Photograph – I don’t want your
Photograph – I don’t need your
Photograph – all I’ve got is a photograph
But it’s not enough

Def Leppard, 1983

We all love to hang on to them for sentimental reasons, but for one reason or another the vast numbers of old photos filling countless shelves across the world is one day going to have to be dealt with.

Sadly, despite being made mostly of paper, photographic prints are not generally recycled, due to the chemicals in the ink and the thin protective plastic coating. It’s possible, but one of those cases where the energy and effort spent would make it pointless. But the properties that make it hard to recycle also mean your old pictures of Aunty What-was-her-name, or the blurry shot of a mountain that could have been anywhere, can have a glorious second life!

Photo paper is actually very tough and quite effectively water-resistant. I even tested this out by leaving a photo in a tub of water for a week; the ink started to run but the paper was actually fine!

This lends itself to a few uses for interesting and arty projects, but you can also make some useful stuff, especially if you’re handy with a sewing machine.

I first decided to make a wallet. Here is my prototype using sellotape, and here is a neater version sewed by Mrs S.H.

My prototype using sellotape

A neater and more robust version

The photo paper makes for a good, durable material. This took about an hour to make


This container uses about 12 large photo prints

The edges are reinforced with material salvaged from old jeans

Mrs S.H. was quite inspired by the idea and next had a go at a storage box (she does love her boxes!). Pretty neat if you ask me.

Some more interesting projects to try could include hats and bags. I guess just be careful which photos you choose to use if you’re going to be wearing things in public!



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