MAKING THE PRINTS
There's really not much to it:
1. Carefully rip out a page and measure it.
2. Choose a photo (or in my case, 6)
3. Convert the photo to black and white. It's best to use photos with some contrast and a decent amount of white space. Whatever is white will not actually print white on your page; it will just show through to the background.
4. The first tricky part is to figure out the margins so your photo will print on the right part of the page. Not that it's necessary to be exact with this kind of thing. I measured the size I wanted, made a blank document in Photoshop at that size, opened my photo, copied and pasted it into my blank document, and then used the Free Transform tool to make it the size I needed with the margins I needed. The best thing to do is approach it with a very forgiving attitude. Apply the "galloping horse" rule (which is that if you don't notice the error when galloping by on a horse then it's fine).
5. The second tricky part is feeding your paper into the printer. If your paper is old like mine was, you'll have to carefully hand feed it.
Once I knew it was going to work, I used the first page of the dictionary for this photo I took of an iron gate in Paris:
One feature of this particular dictionary that I really like is the letters down the right side.
The door knocker looks really cool, in my opinion, because of the contrast and the ample white space.
I bought an old six-pane wooden window for $10 at a consignment store. I knew I was going to use it for photos, and it turns out that the panes are just about the right size for the dictionary pages. My plan was to simply tack the pages on the wall with decorative upholstery tacks and then hang the window on top of it. The trick is figuring out where to pin each photo. I hate doing anything that requires measuring and calculation, so I hung up the window, marked with pencil just outside of each pane, took the frame down, and then put painters tape to show where the divisions were:
I had to take the window on and off a few times and adjust the tape until it lined up pretty well:
Finally, I just started tacking on the pages, making sure that they were at least in line with each other (I didn't care if they were perfectly centered in each frame--galloping horse, remember?).
I used a variety of upholstery tacks that had been sitting in a drawer in the basement just waiting for something like this. Here is what it looked like before I put the window back up:
The detail of a chair (top left) seems to be a favorite. Top middle is my favorite, but I like them all. In fact, I have about 20 photos that are good candidates for this sort of project.
Finally, I hung the window back up:
You can save yourself time by just framing the thing. Or better still, don't even frame it; just use decorative pins, tacks, or whatever. You could also save yourself the printing effort by scanning the dictionary page and making a composite, but I really wanted to print on the actual pages.
Maybe this will inspire you for your own project. If you do something and post it, send me a link.
Don't want to make your printer hate you by feeding it old dictionary pages? OK. Check out the tutorial I just posted on how to do the whole thing in Photoshop.