DIY TYPE TRAY PHOTO DISPLAY
I’m so excited to write this post. This is a DIY project that needs a lot of time, love and patience. But the result is amazing!
I’ve been surrounded by the printing industry all my life. My Dad was an apprentice printer, then a print sales rep, then he set up his own small printing company. I helped out on weekends to earn money to take back to London where I studied Printing and Publishing at The London Institute during the week. Printing has been good to me.
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One thing I have always had a soft spot for is a good Type Tray. Sometimes called a Printers Tray. Or if you must…a Vintage Printers Tray. They were the trays that Printers used to hold their letterpress blocks many moons ago.
Growing up, we always had one on our wall that housed our collection of seashells. My sister also had a mini one that displayed her thimbles. So when I was browsing the local antique shop with my mother-in-law one afternoon and spotted one, I went a little bit bonkers. I had to have it! To my utter gratefulness, my rather lovely mother-in-law bought it for me.
Now that I had one…what was I to do with it? I had to honour it. I have to give it a new lease of life. And then it hit me. I would use it to display a ton of pictures that I love but that I just couldn’t feasibly display in their own individual frames.
I set to work. And this is what you’ll need to do too if you want to make one…
Decide whether you are going to make a portrait or a landscape display
This will greatly influence how you choose your pictures. If you go for the landscape option, make sure that the images you choose can be cropped accordingly.
Measure the spaces
There are usually 4-5 different sizes of blocks. For example, you may have 20 that are 1″x2″ and 10 that are 2″x4″ etc. Make a list of each of the size options as well as how many blocks you have in each size.
Pick your feature images
For the bigger spaces, pick your favourite pics to showcase. Remember to keep in mind the orientation of your blocks…can your chosen images be cropped to fit the space?
Crop/resize your images
I used Microsoft Word for this step. I made a picture box in the correct size for each block, imported my photos accordingly and cropped where necessary. I also decided that I wanted a black and white display, and it was during this step that I reformatted all the photos to black and white.
You have two options here. You can either print on normal paper or opt for photo paper. Your pictures will most probably be clearer on photo paper, but for a more rustic effect the normal paper works well.
Self-explanatory I hope, but this step is quite time consuming.
This is the fun bit…arranging your photos and seeing your masterpiece come together. To give yourself more flexibility to change the display, you don’t necessarily have to stick the photos into their blocks. Mine are just tucked in to place. You could modge podge them into place if you wanted to.
Sit back and admire your creation
Isn’t it cool!? I was a little bit obsessed with the This Is Us series at the time, so I added those words into the mix as well. Another idea might be to put your family name. Use one block for each letter of whatever you want to spell out.
The hardest part is finding a decent type tray. Some are a bit banged up and weathered so keep a look out for a good one (although if you have the equipment and the skills, buy a distressed one and give it some TLC!). I’m always looking as I can’t wait to do more of these little beauties. I just think they are so effective. If you’d like to make one of these but just can’t find one, they are actually available on Amazon.