I decided I'd make my niece her 8th birthday present this year, rather than buy something. She loves animals and puzzles, so after seeing this idea from PhotoJojo, I decided that animal photo blocks using my own photos would be the go. The idea was to go from this:
... to this:
(I've used the Fotki Stacks feature, which I blogged about here, to illustrate the transformation from the originals to the solved puzzles. Just click on the photos to navigate through them.)
It seemed pretty easy; in essence the instructions were buy blocks, print photos, stick photos, cut photos. Repeat the last three steps to do more than one side. Of course, it was not quite so easy ! For a start there were no blocks to be found so I decided to make them out of balsa wood. I had no idea how difficult it would be to create accurate cubes - luckily my mate Angus was there to give a guiding hand. We're at the opposite spectrum when it comes to attention to detail; sometimes it's too easy for me to say close enough is good enough, whereas Gus's tendency to perfectionism borders on extreme. In this case perfectionism was required as the blocks really needed to be perfect cubes for the photo stick and cut to work.
Gus's brainwave in this case was to tape the blocks together so that the rough edges were top and bottom (above); then sanding all the rough edges flat together. However this could only be done once the blocks had gone through a painstaking measure cut and first sand basis.
After than, a painstaking cut with a stanley knife to separate the blocks; tricky the first time and even harder for the latter sides as it was important to avoid scratching the existing sides when cutting.
The final step was to apply multiple layers of lacquer to protect the puzzles, about 9 coats in all, outside and with an hour's drying time !
And then create a box lid with a Picasa mosaic (which created the first photo at the top of the post) and instructions and labels on the inside (below):
Great fun, but certainly not an exercise of one or two hours - lucky I started a week before the birthday. Below are the original animal photos I chose.