Crafting ideas for a hodge podge of old photos?
June 22, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Calling all artistic, creative MeFites! Help me figure out something creative and not insanely expensive to do with all of these awesome old photos of Memphis and Memphians!

So I have recently stumbled upon the Library of Congress online photo archive, and have spent hours paging through old photos of my home town, Memphis. I have decided that I have to have these photos in my life. The only problem being that there are too many that I love, and framing all of them would be challenging and costly since there are so many, and most will have to print in odd sizes. So fellow MeFites, give me some creative things that I can do with bunch of photos like this. I am very open to crafting, but lack the imagination and creativity to come up with different ways to display things beyond the traditional. Any ideas?

Oh, and of course, links to a bunch of my favorites.
Old Memphis Pano 1
Old Memphis Pano 2
Awesome dudes on corner
Hey, that building is at the zoo!
Just awesome
Cotton Bros

These are only the tip of the iceberg!
posted by Quincy to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm, they do seem to be oddly sized for your commercial collage photo frames. However, you could be a huge frame and pay to have someone manually cut matboard in the correct sizes (you know, like the collage frames where there are multiple individual "holes" cut out for various photos). That way, they could all be technically framed together. A place like Hobby Lobby does not charge much for custom matboard cutting.

Of course, if you don't want one super huge frame, you could use the same technique for displaying two frames with three photos each or three frames with two photos...whatever you prefer.
posted by Eicats at 12:46 PM on June 22, 2012

Oh! if you want to get really creative, you could get some of those "keepsake" frames and hand tack the photos in, perhaps titled various ways and overlapping corners, etc. along with displaying some types of personal mementos. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, search keepsake frame for example—you will see they are like boxes with glass windows, designed for displaying bulkier items, not just flat pictures. These frames are generally more expensive though.
posted by Eicats at 12:48 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

sorry, in my first comment, I meant "you could GET a huge frame"—not "be" :)
posted by Eicats at 12:49 PM on June 22, 2012

How about printing them out and decoupaging them to boxes and things.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:52 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would get a wire mounting system like this and run a couple lines down the wall. Buy another pack or two of the clips, and you could put up a ton of the photos, as well as switch them out easily any time you discover some more.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:54 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Make them into incidental things in your life, like a set of notecards or maybe a stack of stationery. A local print shop like FedEx/Kinkos can do that for you fairly easily.

Or maybe turn them into coasters or trays.

Or you could have them transferred onto mounted canvas. A photo shop or copy store can do that for you.
posted by xingcat at 1:31 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would LOVE to have one of those old trunks covered with decoupaged pics of the steamboats.
posted by raisingsand at 1:34 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a native Memphian, I am thrilled to see these. That second panorama shows the Union Street side of the Cossitt Library with the post office building in the background. When I was a girl, I went to that library on the streetcar every Saturday to return my four books and check out more! That marvelous red stone Richardson Romanesque facade is long gone but it had a presence that transported my young self.

Along the waterfront at the foot of Union Avenue and for a long stretch where riverboats docked, the sloping bank was covered in cobblestones. Part of that space was later given over to parking for downtown activities and I can remember being terrified whenever my father drove the car so confidently right down onto the cobblestones far too close to the water for my comfort. Every time!

I also love the picture of the guy classing cotton. In the Cotton Exchange building, Murdoch's International Cotton School taught generations of cotton merchants, planters and their sons how to class cotton. (One of those former students taught me how to pull fibers and measure (simple) length though I only remember some of the names of the classifications (Strict Low Middling, Low Middling, Middling, Good Middling, Strict Good Middling, etc.) That is all computerized now so you probably won't find men with cotton lint on their trousers on Front Street these days.

Back then, a small amount for the sample was cut out of each bale at the compress, wrapped in a roll of paper with the bale identification and weight, then sent to the sales firm to be officially classed and represent the bale being sold. After the sale, the samples were of no further use and were collected in long jute bags called snakes. There was a reporter on the daily paper who kept seeing the cotton snakes and made a deal with the cotton brokerage houses to collect them and sell them with the proceeds going to the Cynthia Milk Fund--for free milk for needy children.

We have had great success with the wire and clip system specialagentwebb recommends. Mount the photos on foam board for a neat and lightweight installation.

You might want to share them sometime by offering to lend them for a time-limited exhibit at some appropriate Memphis shop or perhaps a school or library. (I love to find such displays instead of neutral and boring wall decor.)

Thank you for this sentimental journey!
posted by Anitanola at 2:32 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Since they are digital files, can you load them all onto a digital display frame and enjoy them when you're in a nostalgic mood? I'm afraid I get "tired" of photos when I look at them every day, and tend to take them for granted. The ever-changing electronic montage might be the thing.

Then again, I might print them all down and use the various sizes to wallpaper a powder room.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:21 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about a lampshade?
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 7:30 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

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