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Pin Review: Oversize Engineering Prints as Gallery Wraps

Make a cheaper DIY gallery wrap with a Staples engineering print and foamboard. Original pin idea from dearlillieblog.blogspot.com

Make a cheaper DIY gallery wrap with a Staples engineering print and foamboard. Original pin idea from dearlillieblog.blogspot.com

Another pin I thought I would try. As a photographer myself, I love large, gorgeous prints as home decor. However, high quality gallery wraps are usually $50-200. Recently I’d been hearing of this new trend of getting “engineering prints” done at office supplies stores for really cheap (under $10) instead. I was kind of skeptical. Are you really going to get high quality prints using some secret other method? Though of course I had to try it out of curiosity, too.

Disclaimer: Engineering prints are black and white only. Staples’ websites says these types of prints are more for blueprints than photos. However, I think the trend is picking up, the young woman working there said that a lot of people had been doing it. However, if you have a lot quality photo, you’re taking a risk with your money and it will probably look horrible. Also, know when you are getting this kind of print it will probably not be perfect. Be open to imperfection and being a little artsy and offbeat with this project.

I decided go big or go home. I got the largest print size since it was only around $7. I later realized that I don’t think I have many places with enough wall space (40 inches?) for it, haha. The foam board which was a slightly smaller size than the actual print (but still huge, it barely fit in my trunk) was also around $6-7.

I chose to use this black and white photo I took in China several years ago. It was high resolution and already looked good in b&w, making it perfect for a 40 inch print.

I chose to use this black and white photo I took in China several years ago. It was high resolution and already looked good in b&w, making it perfect for a 40 inch print.

I chose this black and white photograph I took a few years ago of some Naxi minority children in Lijiang, China. I’ve always loved the details and emotional impact. If you look closely, there are a lot of flies – a detail you can’t really see in a small version, hence why this was the perfect photo for a huge print. It is also extremely high res – the original file is 3088 x 2056 pixels.

This photo has always represented to me that the world is so much bigger than I think, with so many needs. I have a lot to be thankful for and should be proud of who I am and where I come from, while still respecting and appreciating other backgrounds and cultures. There are people and cultures I cannot even fathom. Somehow, it looks like the world is looking into my life through the window in this photograph.

I made a trip to Staples with my flash drive and got it printed. The print shop worker was impressed by how it turned out. She said usually people print low res photos there and they don’t turn out that well, and she could tell I must have used a pretty good camera (Canon Rebel XSi).

The texture of the print had a few lines that were a little more faded / where the printer didn’t do as well as other areas, but it was huge, so I doubt anyone would notice. I was okay with this anyway as I was going for something more artistic and a little grungy. The faces and small details came out in excellent, sharp quality. The print was on normal paper though and really floppy / thin.

Now it’s time to attach it to the foam board! Granted, foam board is nothing like wood / stretched canvas in quality. First cut off excess paper from the print. Then fold the print around the back of the foam board, wrapping the corners like a present, then secure with scotch tape. Now you’re going to need some way to hang it. It is lightweight, so don’t stress out too much about a way to hang it. Since my print was so big, it actually fell twice just using tape and a wire. Make sure you use a strong materials, especially if you used a large print size!

It got a little damaged from falling (see tear in photo)…even though it’s wound tightly around the foamboard, the paper is very thin so it can still rip. Be careful!

The consensus: this pin is really all about saving money and doing something expensive a cheaper way. There are a few limitations – black and white photos only, and prints can be streaky or slightly inconsistent, even with a high resolution photo. The paper is very light and can get torn or damaged easily. If you want high quality and thoroughly classy, cough up the cash for a gallery wrap. If you’re in need of some quick and cheap home decor and have great photos but can’t afford to make them into big prints, give this pin a try.

Comment below to suggest what pin I should try next!