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Day 7 – Photo Book Girl’s Holiday Gift Ideas – Acrylic, Aluminum, Glass & Wood Prints (Updated 2014)



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It’s Day 7 of my Twelve Days of Christmas Gift Ideas! Today my pick is acrylic, aluminum, glass and wood prints. What I find really neat about this idea is how many choices we have nowadays to display our photos. In writing and researching about photo books, it’s natural to come across other types of photo gifts and I can’t resist trying a lot of the new stuff out there. You are probably familiar with my Day 5 pick – canvas prints, but you may not be so familiar with these other new materials. Out of the four I mentioned, I’ve tried glass prints before, but the other media are calling my name as well! If you’re someone who likes to surprise friends and family with unique gifts, you might want to consider one of these. Here’s an overview of where you can find these attention-getting “can’t miss” gifts!

Glass Prints

glass printsMy glass prints came out really neat – very eye catching. I made them with Fracture after I saw a Groupon deal last year. I made two smaller ones to put on our bookshelves in the living room (one of Photo Book Baby and one of my favorite wedding photo). I also made two larger ones to hang on the wall. Because of the reflective quality of the glass, I tried to think of the photos I had that may be enhanced by this type of printing. I ended up picking two underwater shots of the Great Barrier Reef (my first foray into underwater photography). It really highlights the photographs. They look great in my bathroom. I didn’t know where I was going to hang them at the time, but a glass print really makes sense for a moisture prone environment like a bathroom where you may be concerned about hanging paper artwork. I’m starting to see more companies offering glass prints so I bet they’ll become more commonly offered soon. Where I purchased mine, an approximate 8 x 10 size runs $30.00 while the 10 x 14 size runs about $40.00.

Acrylic Prints

Shutterfly acrylic printI’ve always been interested in acrylic prints and signs, but I’ve only seen them used in commercial applications, mostly building signage and retail displays. I find myself attracted to the clean, modern look so acrylic is a material that works well for that design aesthetic. In addition to the actual material, I also like the way they are mounted with silver bolts. It raises the panel off the wall, so you get a cool floating look. Years back I tried to look into this, but not surprisingly only found companies catering to commercial applications. I probably could have ordered one, but the companies I saw generally didn’t list prices and the extra steps of calling for a quote and not having a preview made it not as consumer friendly. Recently however, I found that Shutterfly now offers acrylic prints. (Update 11/2013 – Smilebooks also offers acrylic prints). Compared to glass prints, acrylic prints are pricier, but they are typically lighter. Plus you get the cool mounts! A 10 x 14 size is about $100.00, so it’s not cheap but I’ve seen frequent sales. If you’re more budget conscious then I’d go with the glass prints (but I do like those metal floating mounts!). Shutterfly also offers acrylic photo blocks made for desktop photos.

Aluminum Prints

How about printing your photos on aluminum? I found a company named Aluminyze that offers aluminum prints. Your photo is embedded into the aluminum, not just mounted to it. Being that it’s aluminum, it’s very lightweight. From what I read on Aluminyze’s site, you can choose to have a sheer metallic background or a white background, with a matte or glossy finish. They also come with rounded corners, which I am a big fan of. An 8 x 10 will run $34.95 and an 11 x 14 is $59.95, so the aluminum prints are in the middle price wise as compared to glass and acrylic. (Update 11/2013: Smilebooks also offers aluminum prints.)

Wood Prints

Examples from Print on Wood.

While I’d say the first three give off a more modern look, this last one can also give off a more rustic charm. You can actually have your photo printed directly onto wood – this is not just a photo print that is glued and mounted onto wood which I’ve seen numerous DIY examples of on Pinterest – this technique involves printing onto the wood surface itself. It actually allows the wood grain to show through. I think photos with a vintage look to them, or the ones where some type of antique or retro filter is applied to them would look especially good on wood. Even without a retro filter, printing on wood would give it vintage charm in itself. From what I can tell from viewing examples of these prints online, you’re not going to get an intense color from wooden prints, I would expect the colors to appear more muted than printing on glass or acrylic. I haven’t tried this yet, so I can’t tell you much about the companies that do this firsthand, but while researching for this post, I found Woodsnap and Prints On Wood. Both companies say on their sites that they use only sustainable wood. An 8 x 10 ranges from about $30.00 to $45.00 and a 11 x 14 is $35.00 to $60.00. (Update 11/2013: Shutterfly is also offering wood prints.)

How To Decide?

With these types of media, it’s a bit difficult to capture what these prints would really look like in person. When you’re thinking about which option to choose, you have to figure out the look you want and think about the actual photo you want to display. Select the medium that will highlight it best. Location may be another thing to think about – where will the photo be displayed? Would one type of material hold up better in a particular environment?

Price may also be another consideration. Acrylic is the most expensive while the others are pretty similar in pricing. Be sure to check out the latest photo deals here. I track more than just photo book deals – some of you may already be familiar with the calendar, photo card, canvas prints and other photo gift deals that I post every day!

If you’re interested in finding out more about canvas prints, check out my prior post.

After writing this post, the wheels in my head are turning about the photos I have and what would look best on each medium. So many ideas, so little time!

Happy Photoprinting!



Be sure not to miss any of my gift ideas! I’ll be archiving all of them on the main Photo Book Girl gift page as we go through all 12 days so be sure to check back! I’d love to hear if you’re planning on making any of my picks for someone on your list, or if you’ve had experience with any of the products or companies listed. Comment below!





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One Comment

  1. Janine
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm | #

    Some great ideas. Regarding the acrylic prints, I really don’t like the standoffs in the corner. I’ve used Bumblejax which doesn’t use standoffs which take away from the image. http://www.bumblejax.com

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