Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cabinet Photo Ornaments

This idea for an ornament came from a box of old cabinet and carte de vista photographs that I inherited. I wanted a way to remember family and ancestors around the holidays and this is the perfect way to do it.

If you don't have these types of photos, they can be purchased in large lots, sometimes even grouped thematically by women, children, etc., on Ebay. I usually search under Collectibles, Photographic Images, Antique (Pre-1940), Cabinet Photos using the word "lot." I chose not to use my family's photos. It doesn't bother me that the subjects in the photos I used are not related to me. I like the look and I think antique photos of children go well on a Christmas tree.

One thing I do, however, is to scan the fronts and the backs of the photos I buy. As a genealogy and family history buff, I know what it is like to lose photos or not have them labeled properly. There are websites where I can post these and hopefully someone will identify them. I usually look at the back and note the location of the photo studio. Then I will seek out a genealogy website that specializes in that city or county and post there.

Materials Needed:

Old photos - preferrably CDV, Carte de Vista, or Cabinet format
Glue gun with hot/cold settings
Multipurpose glue sticks (hot and cold)
Preserved Cedar or Sheet Moss
Dried Mini Rosebuds
Card stock
Hole punch


1. Prepare a clean work surface and use a fabric drop cloth, old tablecloth or old bed sheet. Plug in the glue gun so it is warmed up and ready.

2. Select your photos. Go for groupings of infants, children, animals (which are very rare in CDVs), women with fancy hats, etc.

3. Glue card stock to the back of the photos using the glue gun. Select a color that compliments the color of your other ornaments. The card stock will be seen if the photo happens to spin around.

4. Punch a hole at the top of the photo to allow for an ornament hook or ribbon to hang photo.

5. Select pieces of preserved cedar or sheet moss and arrange around edges of photo but do not glue.

6. When you are happy with the layout, begin gluing cedar to the photo using the glue gun.

7. Next, place mini-rosebuds in locations around the photo. I often choose the four corners or two corners (diagonally or horizontally across from each other.)

8. When you are happy with the layout, begin gluing the rosebuds to the photo using the glue gun.

9. Remove any glue "ghosts" or "whispers" once glue has dried.

Other Ideas:

- Don't be afraid to experiment and use other items such as glitter, rhinestones, cedar roses, other types of dried flowers, etc.

- Try to keep the color of the embellishments the same as the colors of your other ornaments.

- Place flowers in the hair or on the hats of women.

- Try using bits of lace or ribbon for girls' dresses.

- Use a ribbon punch around the perimeter of the photo and lace sating ribbon through the holes.

- You may use white glue (Elmer's) or spray adhesive if you don't want to use a glue gun. You may have to wait longer for drying times.


Up front, I'll warn you that these will be difficult to store. Preserved cedar will break and rosebuds will fall off over time. Each year, before I put up the tree, I look at what ornaments need to be fixed and always keep extra cedar and rosebuds on hand.

Use acid-free tissue paper to wrap photos. Line a sturdy box with bubble wrap or other leftover packing material. Label the box "fragile".

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