Introduction: $5 Mini Photo Album for Your Valentine.
This Valentines Day I was trying to think of something homemade to give my wife. She is leaving for Air Force Basic Training in March and I wanted something that she could take with her, and make her smile, when life is sucking. The first idea was to make a homemade Photo Clutch (It is a mini photo album shaped like a clutch purse). This would have been a great idea but I couldn't find the hardware to make it happen (someone should make that and put it on here). So since it was still a good idea, it changed into this. It is a really nice looking album, for being made out of duck tape, and she really likes it. Plus you can make it very personal, and put her favorite pictures in it and decorate it nicely. Hope you all find this helpful! (just so you know, I made the green cover as a demonstration, I didn't finish that album, and I spent far less time on it than the blue one)
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
First make sure you have everything you need:
Cardboard/posterboard; I reused a big sheet of posterboard I found in the garbage at work. Shoebox type cardboard would be good, too. I don't recommend corrugated cardboard, unless you want the cover super thick, plus it will have lines on it, and may get bent and creased more easily. Plus it is harder to work with.
Duck Tape; Get what ever colors you want the album to be, I just used what I had on hand.
5 x 7 Photo Sleeves; You can get these at an craft store that carries scrapbooking supplies. These cost about $2.50 to $3.00 for 5 sleeves with front and back pockets, so 10 photos in all.
String/Cord/Wire/Ribbon; I used colored wire, also at craft stores. The green cover had a leather cord on, or some fabric ribbon tied into a bow would look very pretty (to a girl).
Pen/Pencil(?); you can get along without it but I'm sure it won't be a problem.
Time; You could probably crank one of these out in about half an hour if you just want to get it done. I probably spent at least 2 hours on the blue one, but I was being very precise, plus the Air Force emblem was tricky.
Step 2: Cut Out Your Covers.
Take your photo sleeve and use them as a template. I just slapped it down on the posterboard and traced around it with a pencil. If you want the cover to be a little bigger than the sleeves, adjust as needed. Actually, there was a piece of cardboard that came with the photo sleeves to keep it stiff, and since it was the exact right size, I just used that for one cover and as a template for the other.
Once you trace your cover, carefully cut it out and makesure it matches the sleeves the way you want it too.
Now do all of that again for the other cover, and make sure they are both the same size.
Step 3: Cut the Binding Section.
Now take your covers and cut about half an inch off of one end on each of them. This is going to be your binding. You can use a rule or the edge of your posterboard draw a straight line to cut along, but I just cut it without any guides. Just try to keep it straight.
After that, cut a 1/4 inch section from the same ends of the covers as you cut the half inch section. Be as precise as you want to be.
Keep the pieces of each cover together and don't mix them up (if you can help it). You should now have 2 sets of the following: 1 cover, 1 1/2 inch strip, and 1 1/4 inch strip.
Step 4: Line Up the Binding and Prepare the Tape.
The pictures describe this step better than I can in words. Pull out and cut a length of duck tape (what ever cover you want the binding/cover to be) that is a little more than twice the length of the binding and lay on your work surface, sticky side up. Lay the binding and cover on the tape in the same order as they originally were before they were cut, so thay they fit together like a puzzle. Try to get them as straight and parallel with the tape as possible, and don't press it down until you are satisfied. The 1/2 inch strip should be about 1/2 an inch from the top of the tape, so that it can fold over and cover it. Once you have the strips where you want them, all neatly in line, peel out the 1/4 in strip. You do this so that you don't change the length of the cover by putting it to close or far away from the 1/2 inch strip. It would look bad if the sleeves stuck out past the cover. Press down the pieces onto the duck tape.
Now cut the excess corners off of the ducktape, and a slit at the other end, so that it will fold neatly onto the binding (see the pictures.)
Repeat this step for the other cover.
Step 5: Tape the Binding.
You should now have both pieces pressed down on the tape and the corner cut. Fold the side flap first and press it down, then fold the long top piece down and press it smoothly onto the binding.
Then Take the long end and pull it across the album and binding so that it lines up with the bottom of the flap you folded first. Press it down smoothly, then flip the book over. Cut off any excess on the end (it only needs to fold over about 1/2 an inch) and cut out the corner so it will fold onto itself without the extra (see the picture). Fold the tape onto the binding, folding the smaller tab before the longer one, and press it down. The binding is now done.
Repeat for the other cover.
Step 6: Tape the Covers.
Now that both bindings are done, you can tape over the cardboard/posterboard in anyway you see fit, and in any color. On the green one I just did straight strips, but on the blue book I was going for sort of a woven/braided look (sort of like leather or linen on the hilt of some swords). It didn't turn out as good as I had hoped, but it is certainly better than just straight lines and made some nice shapes to break up the monotony. I am sure there are all kinds of patterns one can make, so just be creative, and think about what your valentine would like most.
And of course, repeat on the other cover.
Step 7: Hole Punch.
This part is pretty straight forward. Your photo sleeves should have come with binder ring holes in them. Use these holes as a template and draw a little dot or make a mark on your binding where the holes should be. Then punch out the holes using your hole punch. One word of advice: You are punch through 1 sheet of cardboard/posterboard and about 4 layers of tape, so it will be hard. Unless you have some kind of industrial strength hole punch, I would put on some thick winter gloves before trying it, because that little hole punch handle hurts when you are putting all of your strength on it! You may have to try punching one way, then flip it over and punch from the other side. Good luck!
Step 8: Bind the Pages!
Now that you have 2 completed covers, you can bind it all together. You can uses whatever you can fit through both holes as long as it is strong enough. I think ribbon tied into a bow would be prettiest (in hind sight) but on the other hand, bows an the Air Force symbol don't really match. I used blue wire that I had from making a wire bracelet from another instructable on the blue book, and on the green, I tried green wire and leather strap. You can get both at a craft store and they both look pretty nice. How you secure it doesn't really matter as long as you can get it tight enough to keep it together and keep the pages from sliding around to much. If the can slide out of the cover, then they can get bent up and damaged and the covers aren't doing their job. Plus it will look crappy.
Step 9: Decorate Lovingly!!
This is a Valentines Day gift, so personal touches matter! Get creative, think of your special someone and what he or she would appreciate the most. My wife is going into the Air Force, so I chose blue for the cover and put the Air Force symbol in white duck tape. The red heart was supposed to look like a mosaic, but it kind of looks like a broken heart. She still appreciates the time and effort (about an hour for the heart alone) and I can bust out a cheesy line like "this is what my heart will look like while you are away, my love." The decoration on the green cover took about 5 minutes to do, and looks pretty decent, so just make sure you do something special. For the pictures, make sure you think of what your valentine wants to remember, not you. Also, try to channel your inner scrapbooker, the ladies like it. Don't just stick some pictures in the sleeves, do some different color backrounds, some creative borders, maybe some stickers, add in some captions or labels or something, and he or she will love it, or at least acknowledge the effort. And if not, it is never to late for chocolate. Good luck!
One final thought: If you want this to last a long time, you might consider getting some packing tape or lamination material and going over the whole cover, especially if you have lots of little pieces like the heart or the Air Force emblem. Duck tape tends to loose it's adherence over time, especially when it is handled often. I haven't done this, but I am considering trying it out.