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Make Glass Photo Magnets on the Cheap!

These EASY photo magnets are so simple that even a kid can make them! Give these glass magnets as gifts, use them as party favors, or keep the kids busy during summer break.

Skills Required: Beginner. If you can cut out paper with scissors, you can make these photo magnets! The time required to make these is minimal, and you can make a lot of these picture magnets at once. You don’t have to worry about any wrinkles in this project.

DIY photo magnets

Are you ready, my friends, to make the easiest craft project you’ve ever made in your life? Then you’re ready for these DIY picture magnets!

It took me forever to finally try making glass magnets like these, and I thought it would be the perfect time to try while looking for a quick craft idea.

The analogy is living in Seattle and never going to the Space Needle. It’s always seemed too obvious, so I’ve never done it.

I hope you will forgive me, because I think the picture I’m about to show you of myself will make up for everything. It’s a picture I used it in this project:

Amy with a shaved head

Yep, it’s me. I shaved my head when I was 22 years old. My hair was long, past my shoulders, and I had a boyfriend at that time who didn’t know I shaved my head until he came over to my house and saw it. Yipes (he didn’t mind).

Why did I do it, you ask? After having long hair for my whole (adult) life, I wanted to know what it felt like to have short hair.

I wasn’t sure how to cut it, so I shaved it off – and didn’t fully realize what happened until the hair was on the ground. I guess doing wild stuff is the fun part of being young. But I digress . . .

DIY Photo Magnets

These photo magnets are easy to make, but I do have a few tips and commonly asked questions I wanted to address before we jump into the tutorial.

I originally published this tutorial in 2011 and since then, this is what people want to know. You can read this section or continue to scroll for the how-to.

Type of Beads/Marbles

For these picture magnets you’re going to be looking for “flat backed” beads or marbles (they might also be called gems or pebbles). They are commonly used in floral displays I’ve found.

The flat back is so that you can glue a magnet to the back, so that part is important! Also you want something that you can see through (even if it’s not clear). The marbles you select for your photo magnets should be transparent.

Bag of glass marbles from Dollar Tree

Where to Buy Them

For these picture magnets, I got a 1-lb. bag at Dollar Tree. I don’t know if they are always there – but I know that Michaels has them in the floral section. In addition, I found them on Amazon and also on Wish (which is good if you want a large quantity for favors).

Personalization Ideas

You can use photos to personalize your glass magnets, however, I do recommend making laserjet copies of the real photos so you don’t get any bleed.

Photos are cute for handmade gifts or wedding favors. But you don’t *have* to use photos; you can use anything. The idea is to pick a scrap of something (the magnets will end up being about 1″ or so) that has meaning to you or to the recipient.

Flat backed marbles for magnets

Paper, Fabric, and More

You can use a variety of materials on the back of the magnets: scrapbook paper, tissue paper, magnets, printed patterns (go for laserjet), fabric, wrapping paper, foil, maps, cardstock, rice paper, and more.

You can paint on the back too. For example, you could put some Sparkle Mod Podge on the back of the marble, let dry, and then paint. Your glass magnets can be anything you want them to be!

Mod Podge Formula to Use with Glass Magnets

Because glass is shiny, I pretty much always use Mod Podge Gloss when glass is my surface. It’s just a personal preference, and you can use any formula you like to be honest.

The only formula I wouldn’t recommend using is Dimensional Magic. Dimensional Magic is meant to provide a 3-D effect on top of surfaces, not to adhere. Stick with Gloss, Matte, or Satin (but other formulas work too).

Are you ready to see how the glass magnets were made?? Keep reading!

Glass Pebble Magnets

Gather These Supplies

  • Computer and printer/scanner
  • Photos to scan
  • Mod Podge Gloss
  • Scrapbook paper scraps
  • Glass beads – my 1 lb. bag is from Dollar Tree
  • Magnets
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pencil or pen
  • Paintbrush

I wanted to commemorate the shaved head times as well as my pug Roxie, both when she was young and now.  Here are the pictures I chose:

Photos to scan

If you use regular photos, scan them in and print them out (preferably on laserjet). I will say that if you have an HP printer, it uses a dry ink, so you’re probably safe.

Use photo software (like PicMonkey) to crop out part of the photo (a simple circle shaped crop), then I printed a few copies in different sizes to see what would work for my glass marbles.

You can cut out just the head shapes – I wanted floating heads on the back of the glass magnets, because that is more funny.  Set the heads aside.

Trace paper with a pen

The glass marbles are not completely round, so trace them onto your scrapbook paper pieces and then cut out the shapes just inside the lines.

This is a great scrap buster project, by the way – it takes just a small amount of paper.

Make personalized glass magnets with Mod Podge

Use your Mod Podge to adhere the face (right side down on the marble); use a thin layer or it’s never going to dry. Smooth it with your fingers and allow to dry for 15 – 20 minutes.

Using a hot glue gun to attach black magnets to the back of glass marbles

Adhere the scrapbook paper (right side down) on to the marble, allow to dry overnight and then hot glue to the magnets to the back. Don’t you love my cordless hot glue gun with a headlight?

DIY picture magnets with dollar store supplies

Here are the finished photo magnets. Wasn’t my piggie cute when she was little? I’d love to see you try these DIY picture magnets and let me know how they turn out in the comments!

Yield: 1 dozen magnets

Photo Magnets

DIY photo magnets

Learn how to make DIY picture magnets using photos you'll print yourself! This is an easy and inexpensive gift to make.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $2

Materials

  • Photos to scan
  • Mod Podge Gloss
  • Scrapbook paper scraps
  • Glass beads
  • Magnets

Tools

  • Computer and printer/scanner
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pencil or pen
  • Paintbrush

Instructions

  1. Use photo editing software to size your images to fit your glass marbles; print out using a laserjet or dry ink printer.
  2. Cut out your photo shapes and set aside.
  3. The glass marbles are not completely round, so trace them onto your scrapbook paper pieces and then cut out the shapes just inside the lines.
  4. Use Mod Podge to adhere the face (right side down on the marble). Smooth and allow to dry for 15 - 20 minutes.
  5. Adhere the scrapbook paper (right side down) on to the marble, allow to dry overnight.
  6. Hot glue to the magnets to the back to finish.

Recommended Products

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Did You Make This Project?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!

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Moe

Wednesday 11th of December 2013

Hello, Where did you get your glass beads from. I bought some from Michaels, They looked great because they were slightly larger than the little ones. Unfortunately, they are very rough on the flat part and it obscures the image when looked at directly through the glass. The pictures are most visible from an angle! What a bummer. I'm looking to try again, and your glass beads look nice and clear.

Thanks for your help!

Amy

Thursday 12th of December 2013

Hi Moe! I got mine at the Dollar Tree a few years ago. If you can't find them, I'd search on Etsy or just Google "flat back glass marbles."

Ellen

Sunday 2nd of June 2013

I make all kinds of magnets this way but had never done pictures. For mothers day I wanted to do pictures of my students for their moms. I took great pictures of them and had them developed. Big woops!! The photo paper refused to dry. I'll know better next time....

r Cox

Monday 27th of May 2013

Loved this until I tried it. Everything was simply enough to follow but the Mod Podge left awful gluey streaks over the faces and yes, I did a very thin layer. Very bummed this looked like a lot of fun, prob user error : (

Amy

Monday 27th of May 2013

Hi there! I'd have to know what you did and what type of paper you used to know what the issue was - if you used regular photos or anything with a coating, the Mod Podge won't dry correctly.

Aimee

Thursday 27th of December 2012

Quick question, I want to make these for my wedding favors. When you reprinted the pictures of your head and of your puggy, did you just use an ink jet? Or did you use special paper or special printing? I'm hoping to make Beatles ones, and will need to print off my own photos. Thanks! Fantastic idea :)

Anonymous

Tuesday 25th of September 2012

Wow! What a cool idea. I too will be making homemade gifts for my g-friends of 45 years (!) For Christmas. Needless to say I have collected tons of pix of us from our also crazy, damn the establishment days of youth. We're all stroking 60 now, and it will be a blast to give them some of these fantastic magnets. And who doesn't love magnets. I am also a dollar store stalker, picking up items here and there. I'll be filling up really beautiful boxes from Michael's (that's also part of the gift) with stuff I'll be making for them. I find these gifts more personal than store bought gifts, and after 45 years of gift sharing, one runs out of ideas. Who needs another pair of pajama's or a gift card! No, really, they love the things I make and love my cards even more. Love your blog. Still crazy after all these years! ;-)

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