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How to Make Glowing Photo Spheres

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

We’ve seen record temperatures this summer. Sometimes, it’s just too hot to be outside!

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy scenic views from the comfort of your living room (and air conditioner).

Learn how to turn your photos into glowing photo spheres!

You’ve seen those plain paper lanterns at the store, and now you can convert them to show off your own bright and colorful photographs.

And when the temperature drops, you can take your photo spheres out on the porch. Your neighbors will appreciate the view.

Make Photo Lanterns that Light Up the Night

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Why it’s cool:

ingred-sm It doesn’t take much to transform ordinary paper lanterns into pieces that will make your room shine.

These photo spheres look great in the daylight, and even better at night!

You can bask in the glow of your very own photos. What could be better?

Ingredients:

paint-sm

  • Photos to print
  • Printer
  • 11×17 copy paper
  • 12″ Paper Lantern
  • Gel Medium
  • Sponge Brush
  • Tape
  • Xacto knife
  • Cutting Surface
  • Sphere template (optional)

STEP 1: Size It Up

paint-smMeasure the surface you want to cover and determine how big you need to print your images.

We printed four 11×17′s to wrap around our 12″ diameter lantern.

We found a good price on lanterns at World Market, but you can find them at Target, Michael’s, and a variety of online vendors. The bulb kit is usually sold separately, so make sure to pick that up as well.

Step 2: Print It Out:

paint-sm After sizing your images in Photoshop or another editing program, print them out.

We printed on regular copy paper. We found it to be easier to wrap around the sphere.

Photo paper will work, too. You might need a little extra glue. Keep in mind the thickness of the paper will affect the translucency of the sphere when lit. Photo paper will give off a more subdued light.

Step 3: Cut It Up

paint-smYou’ll need to make vertical slits on your photo in order to get it onto the sphere. Here are your two options.

You can use the sphere template to cut an elliptical pattern. Size this template to fit your photos. Use photoshop to crop it to 11″x17″ before you print. This method will keep the overlapping paper parts to a minimum.

TIP: Make sure the length of your template covers the entire sphere before cutting. You also want to make sure not to cut all the way through. You want your center “equator” to stay in tact, and use the strips to be able to bend around the thinner parts of the sphere.
paint-sm

The other option is to cut straight lines vertically along your photo, again leaving the center in tact. This is the easier version, but will have more overlap at the top and bottom.

These overlapping sections are apparent in the final product, but can also produce cool effects.

Step 4: Stick it Down

paint-smStart by taping down the “equator” of your first section to hold it in place.

Coat the backside of the image with gel medium and press into place. Gel medium is a glue like paste available at any art supply store. It’s a lot like modge podge, but has a nice clean finish when it dries.

Tuck the corners over the inside edge of the lantern. You may want a little extra gel/glue here to secure them.

Step 5: Do it Again

paint-sm Repeat the previous step for each section of the photo.

Overlap each strip slightly to create a continuous image. Tuck the edges, and keep going.

TIP: Work in sections vertically across your lantern, i.e. glue the top of the first strip, then the bottom of that same strip, before moving on to the next section.

Step 6: Seal it Up:

paint-sm This step is optional, but can help give your lantern a nice, finished look.

After each section is in place, brush a thin layer of gel medium over the photo, sealing in any cracks and smoothing out areas on your sphere.

TIP: You can use your hand on the inside of the lantern to press out any parts that may have been crinkled in the process.

Step 7: Dry it out:

paint-sm Let it dry completely before hanging it.

Depending on how much gel medium was used, this can take from one hour to several hours.

Step 8: Hang it up!

paint-sm Follow the instructions that came with your lantern for connecting the bulb and socket.

Pick your favorite place and hang up your glowing photo creation.

Enjoy your photos in all of their glory!

Why Stop There?

  • Make a string of these beauties using paper lantern Christmas lights.
  • Make glowing portraits. Put a face on one orb, torso on another, legs and feet on a third.
  • Try printing photos on transparencies to make other worldly glowing orbs.
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