DIY Mini Polaroid Photo Magnets

When I saw these on Pinterest, I just HAD to make them. And I wanted to make some really quickly, not wanting to deal with painting the edges with a white marker.

I gave some to my parents, my in-laws and I made some for a few friends. My mom and dad actually argued over who would get to take what photos to their office. I had to make a second set for them! 

These make wonderful gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, or just because. They are perfect for that person in your life who’s really hard to shop for too!

Are you someone who rarely prints out your digital images? Make some of these! These can be a great way to display Instagram images too, since they are so small, the lower resolution of cell phone photos won’t be as noticeable.

I absolutely love giving these as gifts!

What you’ll need:

  • white mat board (Hobby Lobby and some art supply stores sell full 32×40 sheets of mat board, which can get you A LOT of mini polaroid magnets! Or craft and framing stores often sell scrap mat board at a discount. A lot of colored mat board is white on the back and in the core, so it’s totally usable for this. Just have the colored side face the back. If your local framing shop doesn’t have it for sale, just ask. When I worked in picture framing, I often gave away scrap pieces of mat board. Even if it’s a little scuffed, it can work!)
  • craft knife or box cutter/utility knife with a fresh blade
  • metal straight edge/ruler (I prefer a metal ruler with a cork bottom, it slips less)
  • self-healing cutting mat (not required, but helpful)
  • spray adhesive (my fav is Super 77 from Scotch)
  • adhesive-backed magnet material (I buy the ones sized for business cards from office supply stores or Amazon, you can also consider the magnet that comes in a roll)
  • scissors
  • photo paper
  • a computer with either Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Illustrator or Gimp.
  • a printer

Step 1:

Select what photos you’d like to use (this was the hardest part for me!) and paste them onto a template. When I was looking at a few different links on Pinterest, I saw a couple of different downloadable templates. After trying them out, I decided to create my own.

I created a file for Adobe Photoshop that has 36 polaroid magnets laid out on an 8.5″ x 11″ page. It can be used with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or a free photo editing program called Gimp. I also created a file for Adobe Illustrator. You can download whichever template will work with the software you have. 

In Photoshop or Photoshop Elements:

  • Download THIS template.
  • Open the template file and the images you want to use. You don’t have to make 36 different photos, feel free to make duplicates.
  • Drag and drop the images onto the template.
  • In the Layers palette, move one image at a time into the clipping mask (in between the Mask and the numbered image).
  • Once your image is in the right spot, it will be masked behind the numbers that are already on the page.
  • Simply delete the numbered images that I placed there, and your image will show up, masked.
  • Select your image in the Layers palette and then select the Move tool, you can move and scale the image to fit inside the mask however you’d like.

In Gimp:

  • Download THIS template.
  • Open the template file and the pictures you want to use.
  • Copy a photo.
  • Click on number on template file, right-click and Paste (command-click for Mac users).
  • In the Layers palette, right-click on floating selection/scale image.
  • Move the photo over the number you were working on.

In Adobe Illustrator:

  • Download THIS template.
  • Open the Illustrator file and place your images directly onto the file (you can just drag & drop). Then arrange a photo over each of the black boxes.
  • Select all of the images and go to Object/Arrange/Send to Back.
  • Using the Selection Tool, scale each image to just larger than the black boxes.
  • Create a clipping mask for each image so you can mask off any part of the image that sticks out past the black box.
  • Select one image and the black box that is above it (you have to do this one at a time).
  • Go to Object/Clipping Mask/Make.
  • Repeat for the other images that need masking.
  • If your photo doesn’t need to be masked, then simply delete the black box before printing.
  • Use the Direct Selection Tool and select one photo to adjust the scale and alignment of each image to your liking.

Step 2:

Print out the photos onto photo paper. My favorite photo paper for this is HP Advanced Glossy Photo Paper, and I like that I can buy a big box of it from Amazon. 

Step 3:

In a well ventilated space, preferably outside, spray the back of your photo paper with spray adhesive, holding the can about six to eight inches away from the paper. If the can is too close, you can end up with clumps. Wait about 30 seconds and then place the photo paper onto the mat board, smoothing out any bumps with the palm of your hand. Give the adhesive a few minutes to cure before you begin trimming. I usually spend this time washing the spray adhesive off my hands.

I mean it when it comes to using this stuff outside or in an open garage or something. It is essentially rubber cement in an aerosol form. If you are pregnant, I would either do it outside or ask someone else to do the spraying. If inhaled, it can be some nasty stuff.

Step 4:

This part will likely take the longest amount of time. Cut out each photo using your utility or craft knife and straight edge. Scissors can’t really handle the thick mat board. I use my self-healing cutting mat as a base because it helps to avoid slipping and I don’t have to worry about cutting into a table or my hardwood floor. For the times when I haven’t had my mat with me, I have just cut on my carpet. If you are doing this outside, I’d recommend putting down a piece of cardboard to cut on. If you end up hitting concrete, your blade will dull pretty quickly.

I highly recommend using a brand new blade. If you don’t have a ton of experience cutting mat board like this, take your time. I rarely make it through the mat board in just one stroke, it usually takes two to three strokes. As my hands get tired, it takes more strokes. It is very easy to try and go too fast and end up with the knife cutting through a photo, or your hand! Believe me, I have done it! If you have to replace the blade partway through, then do it.

If you end up with some ragged edges, or a little bit of fraying, you can use a clean emery board to smooth the edges.

Step 5:

Take your business card-sized magnets and cut them down with a pair of scissors. I like to make the magnet slightly smaller than the photo. You’ll be able to get approximately six per magnet, depending on the size of your photos. Peel off the backing and stick one onto the back of each of your magnets.

Craft stores sell adhesive magnet “tape” that comes in a regular tape dispenser. I haven’t had the opportunity to see if it’s less expensive than the business card magnets, but it will totally work for this.

Step 6:

Stick on your fridge and enjoy! Then go make some more and share them with friends and family.

18 Responses to DIY Mini Polaroid Photo Magnets

  1. I love mine! And they are so much fun at work!

  2. this is such a great idea! thank you so much for sharing! i think i may use these as a birth announcement!

    • What a great idea Jennifer! If you do use them for your birth announcements, please come back and share a photo! I’ll add it to this post. Thanks!

  3. Hi! Can modge podge be used instead of spray adhesive? And how do your magnets fair in time?

  4. And is there a need for sealer? Great work, by the way! :)

    • Hi Jen, thanks for the questions! I made these for the first time about 2 years ago and they look just as new as when I first made them. I didn’t use any sealer since I knew they were just going to go on the fridge. So far they haven’t really needed it. My son even takes them off the fridge and plays with them at times and they are still going strong.

      I think Mod Podge could work, you just need to be careful with your prints if you use an inkjet printer for the photos since it could accidentally cause the photos to smudge. You’ll also want to do your best to spread a thin, even layer on the back of the photos when adhering them to the mat board.

      If Mod Podge ends up working for you, please come back and let us know how it went!

      • I just made two sheets of these using Mod Podge, since it was what I had on hand. It worked really well, except on a couple of edges where it leaked out (because my board was threatening to curl I weighted it a bit while it dried) which made a few of the photos bleed. One person I gave them to didn’t believe I hadn’t printed them directly on the board!

  5. How thick is mat board? If I can’t get it would foam board work or would the magnet not be strong enough to hold it up?

    • Hi Natalie, standard 4-ply mat board is about 2mm thick. Foam board would probably work fine and the magnet would hold it well. While foam board is thicker than mat board, it’s still very light. Good luck!!

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  9. Thank you for the template! I used the one for photoshop. After I figured out the layers, it worked like a dream. Have not cut mine out yet but had tons of fun lining up the perfect squares and choosing photos.

  10. So, do you need to use a polaroid camera for these or will your phone camera do the trick? I’m new at this and don’t really know much about this, but that I love this. Can you make it more simply for us older folks, please!

    • Hi Kathy, any camera will do! You are printing multiple photos onto a sheet of 8.5×11 photo paper than then trimming a white border that resembles polaroid photos. So they aren’t real polaroids.

  11. Hi, there! Quick question: I downloaded the template for GIMP and it looked correct when I viewed the template, but when I go to open it through GIMP, all of the rectangles are totally misaligned and wonky. Any idea why this might be happening?

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