Monday, May 23, 2011

Photo Marbles Tutorial

Have you ever seen a fridge without a photo on it? They are kind of sad and lonely-looking.

Here's a way to spice up your fridge! These would make great gifts for Dad on Father's Day, for a high school grad moving away from home, or for your kids' teacher to say Thank You!

What you need to make Photo Marbles:

digital photos
printer paper
clear, flat marbles*
Mod Podge
paint brush
magnets (make sure they're smaller than the marbles)
hot glue gun or superglue

*Note on the marbles: I got mine in the floral section of Michael's but they're also available here and here. Pick any size you want, but make sure they're clear and not iridescent. See the difference here? The two on the left are iridescent and the two on the right are clear:

First you'll need to figure out how big your photos need to . Using a photo editing program, do a trial run (or two) and print some small, cropped photos. Make sure the whole face fits under the marbles!

Then, print up a page full of the correct size photos. If you're making this for a gift, you can keep it a surprise by "borrowing" pictures from their Facebook page. (Since the printed size is so small, even low quality/small photos work great for this project--just make sure the color and lighting are decent.)

Now you're going to cut the photos to fit the marbles. I like to just hold the paper in place while I cut. You could also trace an outline but it takes longer and I tend to be a lazy crafter sometimes. We don't need perfection here. =)

Time to Mod Podge. Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on your marble, then lay your photo right-side down onto the glue. Press down firmly to adhere photo to marble and look at the front to make sure there aren't globs of glue anywhere. Try not to move the photo around after you lay it on the glue (if you move it too much, the color from the printer ink will start to smudge), just press straight down.

If the photo edge extends past the marble, trim it up. Then Mod Podge another thin layer and lay upside-down to dry.

Now it's time to add the magnets. I put a dollop of hot glue on one side of the magnet and adhere it to the back of the photo marble.

Side note on the magnets: I used super-strong magnets which was probably a mistake. Since I was mailing them as gifts and packaging them together, the magnets kept getting stuck together and the magnets were coming unglued. An obvious solution is to not buy the super-strong ones. Or you can put them in a magnetic box or on a magnetic strip when mailing so they stick to that and not each other.

Update: One of my readers mentioned that super glue works better than hot glue if you're going to use the strong magnets, which is advisable so they don't fall apart and become choking hazards. Thanks, Cheryl!

All done!

Think about all the other things you could do with these marbles:
  • Use patterned cardstock and make cute generic magnets to have on hand for a quick and easy gift
  • Print up the letters of the alphabet in a cute, easy-to-read font for kids to practice spelling
  • Use photo marbles to hold up important papers for each member of the family (a fridge filing system?)
  • Buy giant marbles and make paperweights or coasters
  • Print words and your families' names and make your own set of "magnetic poetry"
What other ideas do you have for this craft?


  1. What a great idea! We will def be making these!

  2. I love making these things. Soooo much fun! Works great with pretty patterned paper too. I have a bunch of them in my office to dress up my boring file cabinet.

  3. Cute and great idea! I definitely need to spice up my refrigerator.

  4. really cute idea.
    Would you consider linking up to my "20 minute tuesday" party at this address tomorrow?
    It's for projects that: take 20-30 mins and cost less than 10 bucks.
    Great place for people to come and check out quick and inexpensive ideas!
    PS: I'm giving away 20 more button pony tailers! Here's the info:

  5. This is a lovely tutorial. I love how simple it is, and it has great results. It would be fun to make a bunch of the circles with numbers and use them for a perpetual calendar, or something else fun.

    I'm saving this for later!

  6. Love this idea!!!! I just might use this too!

  7. i seriously love this. i am totally going to try them, i love mod podge-possibilities are endless, they are the perfect gift idea and am sure very affordable. i am bookmarking this and when i try ill link back to your page/ great directions :)

  8. These are adorable! Thanks for sharing!

  9. This is a really cute idea!! I saw another tutorial for making mini polaroid photo magnets for the fridge, but this looks much faster(i.e., more practical to make for gifts). Thanks so much for including links to find marbles online!! Most of the craft and hobby stores here are far away or hard to get to without a car.

  10. I am not crafty at all, but I'm doing these right now! My mother-in-law is turning 60, retiring, and moving to SC this weekend and I needed a gift. This is PERFECT (along with the ipod we bought her, lol)! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  11. What an adorable idea! Would make a wonderful gift for family.

  12. Great idea! They look wonderful!

    I'm a new follower from the Creative Tuesday blog hop! Please stop on by and follow me at and say hello :)

  13. Yay! Glad you all like them. They were very easy and cheap! I didn't post the cost this time since there are so many options for the marbles. But you're basically just buying those,magnets and Mod Podge (if you don't have that already). SO easy and people love personalized gifts!

  14. Wow!!! I've never seen this before! This is really creative! Please come over and enter this on our arts & crafts section!

    When you have a chance, please come join us at voiceBoks - The Voice of Motherhood where you can enter your site's info in the various categories of our directory along with a chance to meet a great group of women who truly WILL follow you back and keep revisiting.

    Have a great rest of the week!


    Lexie Lane

  15. Love this and have made them several times. One suggestion, the powerful magnets are perfect because they will actually stay on your fridge but you will want to use super glue of some sort instead of hot glue. These will inevitably fall on the ground and the magnet will pop right off with plain hot glue which is not good if you have little ones or animals around that may put them in their mouths.

  16. This is so cute! I love that it uses things already in my craft stash!

    Thanks for sharing

  17. Very cute and looks easy!! I'll have to try it ;) Thanks so much!

  18. These are great - I made some with pictures of me when my head was shaved. Haha!!

  19. Wow, these look easy but so cute and impressive. Love it love it love it!

  20. Lexie, thanks for inviting me to voiceboks!

    Cheryl, Thanks for the info! I'll update my post.

    Glad everyone else wants to try this easy-but-cute craft!

  21. So cute! Thanks for sharing at Make Something Mondays!

    ~ Sarah

  22. This is a fantastic idea - i really like your work!

  23. Lovely idea... A great idea for gifts too.... !!

  24. Thanks for visiting my blog - these look great! I never thought of using photos - I might have a new Father's Day gift idea coming up! I have also made larger ones with plastic domes and letters underneath as fridge magnets for the kids..

    I made a lot of these last year with the small glass pebbles as Christmas gifts and I made the same mistake of using magnets that were too strong!

    Lowri :-)

  25. I am making these for wedding favors, just tight budget = all DIY ;) Our theme is peacock and I found tons of great images online but cannot figure out how to size them down. I wanted to print them on cardstock so the magnet didn’t show through the image and since cardstock isn’t cheap I want to do an entire page at a time. I am at a loss here… I thought I had it ok but they just turn out too small every time I try. Would you be able to post or send you template? HELP! :P

  26. Impressed alot.I really like your blog.
    Thanks for the post. Fridge Magnets

  27. I Love this idea!!!! I just might use this Marble! Thanks for the sharing.

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