FYI, there’s a giveaway at the end of this post worth over $100 – keep reading!
Over the past few years I’ve seen popsicle stick bracelet tutorials on various blogs, and while I always thought the idea was cool, the finished result always seemed a bit juvenile. Since Mother’s Day is coming up I’ve been thinking about some personalized jewelry celebrating my kids, and I had an idea: would adding photos to a popsicle stick bracelet turn it into something I’d actually wear? Well, that would be a yes.
This little project actually turned out really fun! If you soak really big popsicle sticks (aka super jumbo craft sticks) in warm water long enough, you can bend them to fit inside a glass or jar. Once they’re dry they keep their shape, making a cute wood bracelet, which you can then make cuter with pictures of yourself & kids.
Adorable, right? I have a couple videos for you demonstrating how to make the bracelets and add the photo strip, and then I’ll show you how easy it is to crop your favorite photos into a photo strip using Adobe Photoshop Elements.
Before I get to the how-to, I want to let you guys know I’ll be partnering with Adobe for the next few months as a brand ambassador. That means every month I’ll showcase at least one project made using Photoshop Elements. I actually use Photoshop Elements nearly every day, both to edit my own family photos and blog photos, and also to create all my printables and pretty much any project that includes photographs. It has everything I need and is easy to use. And I get to give away a copy Photoshop Elements 14 and Premiere Elements 14 (video editor) at the end of the post, so keep reading!
Ok, back to the bracelets. These would make a great DIY Mother’s Day gift! As soon as I take new pictures of my kids I’m going to make a bracelet with a photo of each of them and give it to myself 🙂
This video shows you how to form the bracelets:
A few notes:
- I used super jumbo craft sticks that are 1 inch wide and 7.5 inches long. You want to find a glass or jar that is small enough to bend the sticks until the ends are pretty close to touching (or if you have small hands/wrists maybe actually touching). When I used the pint mason jar and pushed the bracelet all the way to the bottom it ended up the right size, but the one I left near the top was a bit too big (it’s the one you see in most of these photos, and I was able to fix it after I took the photos).
- I boiled the craft sticks for 30 minutes, then let them soak in the hot water for over an hour. At that point they were pretty soft and it wasn’t too hard to bend them into shape, although it did take a minute or two of coaxing for each one. Be gentle when doing so; if you push too hard you’ll snap the stick (so you might want to boil some extras).
- Place the jars/glasses with bracelets in them in a 250 degree oven for about half an hour, or until completely dry. Once cool, they’ll come out easily.
And this video shows you how to add the photo strip to the bracelet:
A few notes:
- I used matte Mod Podge and a foam paintbrush. Trim the photostrip to size first (it should be 1 inch wide and 7 inches tall). Then paint a layer of Mod Podge onto the bracelet and smooth the photo strip on. Try not to get any Mod Podge on your hands at this point – if you do, wipe them off before you touch the front of the photo.
- You might need to hold the photo onto the ends of the bracelet for a minute or two to let it start drying. Then you can set it down to let it dry completely (about 15 minutes).
- Once dry, sand the edges of the photo strip. Then paint another layer of Mod Podge right on top of the photos. Try to use smooth brush strokes as they will be slightly visible when dry (if you really don’t want to see any brushstrokes you could spray with a sealant instead). Once that’s dry, your bracelet is done.
One last note: one of the bracelets I made ended up a little too big, so I got brushed water onto the inside of the bracelet to dampen the wood, slid it into a slightly smaller glass, and baked for about 10 minutes. I let it cool and now it’s perfect!
Ok, here’s how to make a photo strip in Photoshop Elements 14:
(Quick note before we start: I like to use Floating Documents mode in Photoshop Elements, which means you can see and work on more than one document at a time. To turn this on, go to Preferences -> General and click “Allow Floating Documents in Expert Mode”.)
1. Start by opening 5 photos you’d like to put on your bracelet in the photo editor in Photoshop Elements. You’ll want them all to be either horizontal or vertical. Mine are horizontal photos. Also open up a new blank file that is 7 inches wide, 5 inches tall, and 300 pixels/inch. (Note, if you use vertical photos you’ll want your new file 5 inches wide and 7 inches tall).
2. Hit “C” to select the crop tool. At the menu on the bottom left, set cropping to “custom” and then set the crop size to 1.4 inches wide and 1 inch tall. Make sure the resolution (on the lower right) shows 300 pixels/inch. Click and drag on your first photo to open the crop markers. Adjust until you like what portion of your photos is showing, and then hit the green checkmark to complete the crop. (Note: If the Crop Tool Options are not showing along the bottom, click on the Tool Option button near the bottom left of the window.)
3. Repeat the cropping process on all five photos. Hit “V” to get the Move tool, and drag each cropped photo on the new blank file. Arrange them in the order you want them to be in the photo strip. Make sure the leftmost photo touches the left edge of the file and the rightmost photo touches the right edge of the file.
4. To get your photos perfectly spaced, hold down the shift key and click on each photo to select them all, then hit “Align Top” and “Distribute Middle”. The photos will automatically be arranged in a perfect photo strip.
At this point, you can save your photo strip as a .jpg (use Save As and be sure to choose JPEG for the format). Then you can order the photo as a 5×7 from whatever photo processor you normally use, or print it out at home on photo paper or heavy weight card stock. Trim off the white space, and you’re ready to make a bracelet, or display your photo strip in any way you like. Photo strips are perfect for adding to a bulletin board, displaying on the fridge, or decorating a mirror.
And now for the giveaway! Just use the widget below to enter to win a software bundle of Photoshop Elements 14 and Premiere Elements 14, worth over $100:
Thank you to Adobe for sponsoring this post.