Laminated Painting Bookmark Craft

Monday, May 27, 2013

Last year for Mother's Day my son brought home from preschool the most perfect gift a writer and mom could ever receive: a bookmark made from a picture of him.  I loved it so much I've been actively looking for a way to do something similar ever since.

It was the first thing I thought of this spring when I was looking for an art project for the boys that was more springy, and less, well, Eastery.

I still had bookmarks in mind and I remembered pinning this celery paint stamp concept I'd seen in an issue of Martha Stewart and... voila!  Combination inspiration.

Just about any painting, drawing or photograph that can be recognizably represented within a 4" x 2" rectangle will work for this project.

Paint supplies
Sturdy paper
Cut end from a bunch of celery
Paper cutter (optional)
Laminating pouches
Hole punch (optional)
Ribbon (optional)
Round corner punch (optional)

Time required: allow 24 hours so the painting can dry overnight

I got the counter all set up for Bear to do the painting phase of the project.  Which is to say, our resident artist Dude saw me get the painting stuff out and had to get in on the action.

Put this color here, Mommy!
We let him have at it until his interest waned.  Then I make the mistake of pulling out the celery for Bear, which Dude promptly stole. And tried to eat.
Bear was not amused that Dude was eating his art project

Daddy whisked the Dude away for his second favorite activity - playing in the bathtub - so Bear could get down to business.
Celery paint stamp test

We used neutral construction paper.  If we do this project again, I'll get some white card stock.

Bear is very linear and literal.  It took a lot of coaxing to get him to break away from from straight lines and let some of the flowers be partial along the edges.

Tip: We learned that you get a much cleaner, more recognizable flower impression if you coat the celery with a paint brush rather than dipping.

My favorite part was the lovely mixed color flowers that started to develop, but as you can see from the late afternoon light I didn't have time to explore that.  We set the finished painting aside to dry overnight.

We were able to cut 12 equal bookmarks from the finished painting (this is where the ruler comes in).  You don't have to have a paper cutter for this project, but it certainly makes this step fast and easy.

Because the whole point of this project was to make gifts for friends and family, Bear signed each one.  (He's still learning to write numbers, so I added the year myself.)

Tip: Depending on your kiddo and the number of bookmarks, you may need to break the signing step into multiple sessions.  Last year Bear would have needed at least three sessions, this year he really impressed me by getting through it in one.

I used a standard 4 3/8 x 6 1/2 laminating pouch for each bookmark.  You could also fit several into a standard letter size pouch, but I'm a klutz and didn't want to mess with trying to keep multiple items straight at once.

The kids can help with this step, but laminators get hot so it's obviously a "with adult supervision" situation. 

Sidebar: Look! I finally got a laminator!  And I loooooves it!  I got it to do some things for work. And for making therapeutic items like visual schedules and PECS cards and all that spectrum jazz.  But I love having it around because it opens up a whole new world of crafting and organizing projects.


I broke out the paper cutter again to trim the excess plastic, but as before, it's not a requirement.  I did a couple of one-off bookmarks recently and it was no big deal trim with scissors.

- Trimming with scissors can leave sharp edges that will scratch, use extra care if cutting this way
- If the bookmark is crooked in the pouch, be sure to trim along the angle of the bookmark
- Refer to laminator's instructions for how close you can trim to the item without breaking the seal
- If you want to hole punch for the ribbon through the plastic and not the painting, be sure to leave at least a half inch of extra space along one edge
- Unless your kids are too old for this type of project, they probably should not be helping with the paper cutter.

A hole punch, corner round punch and color coordinated ribbon (I used necklace string from the jewelry making section of my local craft store) are optional.  The corner rounder makes finishing the edges much faster and easier.  The hole punch and ribbon are a nice touch, but purely personal preference.

We tried it both ways and unanimously decided we preferred the hole punch through the plastic and not the painting.  That's why (and I realize it's hard to see in this photo) one edge of the bookmark has wider plastic than the others.  

The corners of the bookmark are genuinely sharp and scratchy, so I think rounding them is a necessity.  I tried rounding some manually with scissors - it was slow and the results were inconsistent.  For myself I don't care as much (who am I kidding? It drove me crazy), but these were for gifts and I wanted to do better.

That said, the laminate is quite thick and sturdy, and the corner punch I bought was clearly intended for paper.  It was quite a challenge to get it to work on the laminated bookmarks.  We also learned that the smaller radius setting was too small and cracked the laminate; the larger radius setting worked (with significant effort).

The last step in the project was for Bear to carefully review the finished products and tell me which one he wanted to give to each friend and relative.  I was surprised and touched at how much it mattered to him.  After the obligatory familial gifts were dispensed, we gave them to people who have supported us through some rough times with Bear.  It made me so happy to see he realized their importance in his life, and I made sure each one he chose made it to the right person.

I'm on Pinterest! No, seriously. I am.

I'm a total loser and haven't worked out how to embed Pin It button in posts yet.  If you're so inclined, here's a link to my original pin of this project for easy re-pinning.