Crafting unique homemade gifts using the power of print

From a pretty paper bouquet that will last for years to a personalised memory box, find out how you can give meaningful gifts using Canon Creative Park and your PIXMA printer.
A pair of hands places a papercraft flower bouquet, created with a template from Canon Creative Park, into a hand-crafted box decorated with découpage photographs.

Buying someone a bunch of flowers and a card is a lovely gesture, which can brighten their day, but ultimately the flowers will wilt and the card will get thrown away. Why not take a different approach with handmade papercraft creations that make more meaningful presents for loved ones? Plus, you might enjoy making them, too.

Canon Creative Park is full of free templates for papercraft models which you can keep for yourself or give as gifts. We invited crafter Martin of @MartinMayhem to create a papercraft bouquet and card for his partner, but this wasn't his only task.

We also challenged him to make his homemade gifts even more personalised by including photographs.

"Paper is amazing," says Martin. "For me, it's about having something physical to cut up, fold, apply ink and add colour to. The opportunities are endless with it if you can think of something to make – and even if you can't, there's so much inspiration out there."

Here's how Martin went the extra mile with his gift making.

Make your gift unique

A papercraft bouquet sits on a table in front of a wooden box with a card on top in the middle of a living room.

Martin's advice for those new to Canon Creative Park papercraft is to read the instructions carefully, and when making the templates themselves, remember you don't need as much glue as you might think. This was particularly important when he crafted his paper flower bouquet and pop-up card. Initially, he planned to gift them in a wooden box, which he embellished with a flower pattern on top, but decided instead to craft a more personalised version using an old shoe box, photos and découpage.

Once you've crafted your papercraft gift using Canon's free library of templates, Creative Park, it's time to really make it your own.

Martin used the Canon Creative Park website and app from his smartphone. "I often don't have enough space on my desk for my laptop, due to the amount of craft mess, so being able to view the design on my phone and then print made life just that little bit easier," says Martin.

Martin made his paper bouquet by following the paper crafting instructions on Creative Park, cutting out the shapes and then scoring and folding the lines before securing them together with glue.

You could embellish your papercraft gifts with glitter, stickers or even decorate them with pens or paint – for example you could do a polka dot design for your pattern-obsessed friend.

Adding photographs

A pair of hands adds sticks with personalised heart-shaped photos to a papercraft flower bouquet.

Martin glued images of himself and his partner on to sticks, which he then added to personalise his papercraft bouquet. "Crafting to me is escapism," he says. "I work between 50 and 60 hours per week normally, in a pretty busy job, so when I craft that's time away from all the hustle and bustle of work and normal life. Just time for me to focus on something I enjoy."

A pair of hands holds a smartphone with a photo on the screen in front of a Canon PIXMA printer with a sheet of photos in the process of being printed.

Looking through old photographs when creating a personalised present is a lovely way of reliving precious moments. When you've chosen your favourites, it's quick and easy to print them directly from your smartphone to your Canon PIXMA printer using the Canon PRINT app, as Martin did. "We don't take as many photos together now, so it's lovely remembering the start of our relationship," he says of the process.

Having created a finished bouquet, Martin wanted to add a personal touch, so he printed his favourite images of himself and his partner from his Canon PIXMA printer using Canon Glossy Photo Paper. Once his images were printed, he cut them into shapes – he chose hearts but you could pick whatever look you wanted.

Once the images were cut out, Martin took some recyclable paper straws and attached his images to the top, making a kind of photo lollipop. After these had dried, he then added them into the bouquet itself, displaying his favourite memories with his partner.

"I used a paper straw for the stick as the colour would blend in with the stems of the flowers. I used two of the heart shapes to create a sandwich over the top of the straw and adhered it together with liquid glue. I only used one photo in the examples, but there is no harm in having each side a different image," he suggests.

"I also added some ribbon to the bottom of the heart in the same colour as I wrapped around the bouquet," explains Martin. "I felt this made a lovely connection between the two elements."

Assembling your gift box

A young man uses scissors to cut around photographs printed on a Canon PIXMA printer. On the table beside him is a pack of Canon paper, glue and a part-finished découpage shoe box.

Martin used images of himself and his partner to découpage the gift box, but you could use images of a person's favourite food, their pet or their hobbies for your own personalised touch.

A pair of hands uses a hole punch to cut out heart-shaped photos. On the table below are a pair of scissors, a cutting board and a pack of Canon paper.

As well as a good idea for cheering someone up, papercraft gifts could work for birthdays, Christmas or even celebrations like engagement parties – incorporating images of the happy couple on to a découpage box. Martin used a heart-shaped hole punch to add that extra romantic touch to photos of himself and his partner, but other shapes could be used to suit different subjects too.

Martin decorated a wooden box to place his gifts in, before deciding to make his own personalised one out of an old shoebox. Because you're covering it in images, you could recycle any box you have at home.

Martin decorated his shoebox with photographs using a découpage technique. Découpage is when you take photographs or paper and add it in layers to a surface, covering each one in a thin layer of glue, like papier-mâché but with photographs. The final result is a personalised decorated box, which can be kept and reused after gifting. "Découpage was something I've heard of before but never really tried. What an experience!" says Martin. "I printed the images in both black and white as well as colour for a good variety."

Then Martin spent some time cutting these out carefully. For some of the smaller images he used a heart-shaped punch to cut out the photos, but you could also do this with scissors or leave the images as they are. "This added a more 'lovey-dovey' look to it," Martin says. "This heart-shaped punch is also what I used when cutting out the shapes for the images on the sticks in the bouquet."

A pair of hands uses a brush to glue down photographs on to the lid of a shoebox using a découpage technique.

A gift box is a lovely present, which can be reused over and over again. You could use a wooden box bought from a craft store or you could make your own using an old shoe box, like Martin. Because découpage images are layered with glue, they may be more effective when using Canon Matte Photo Paper rather than Canon Glossy Photo Paper, and a final layer of glue to stick everything down securely can mean the box stays looking good for longer.

A young man uses a brush to glue down the finishing touches to a découpage gift box with photos on. A papercraft flower bouquet, pack of Canon paper and crafting tools are also on the table.

The hours Martin spent on personalising the papercraft flower bouquet, pop-up card and découpage gift box makes it a unique triple gift that celebrates cherished memories with his partner. "There's nothing more precious than time," says Martin. "When you invest time into a handmade gift you've dedicated hours to it. Anyone can spend 30 minutes shopping online, but for someone special, make the time."

Once the images were prepared, Martin laid a layer of découpage glue down on to the shoe box before sticking the image over the top, but this would also work with PVA. To ensure the image was secure, and to protect it from any damp or moisture, Martin brushed over the image with a second layer of glue.

"This action of glueing over the top of the image really helps when it comes to sticking the images around the corners. It was nice to reminisce while glueing the images down; our first trip to London together, our first holiday," says Martin.

The final result is a striking, personalised gift box for the papercraft bouquet with the pop-up card placed on top, which can be reused afterwards. Martin's partner has kept the gift box and is using it to store mementos of their relationship, such as Valentine's Day cards and concert tickets.

Why not have a go at making your own one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one?

Written by Tamzin Wilks

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