Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Crafting Community: Instax Locker Decorating

Welcome to a new guest post series called Crafting Community, with me, Stacey Shapiro. I work in a standalone library in central Jersey, but we are fortunate in that every year we can apply for a grant from Union County, the county we reside in. This year, we’re planning to use that money to create a Crafting Community. Cranford is a town with a strong downtown shopping area and lots of local businesses to partner with, so the children’s librarian, Lauren Antolino, came up with the idea of Crafting Community to pay local businesses to host workshops for our patrons. Most of the money will go towards that, but the first big expenditure was Instax cameras.

I first learned about the possibilities of crafting with Instax photos from this blog, and I’ve wanted to do programs with them since then, but haven’t had the funds. The cameras themselves are $50, plus film which you will go through quickly. Luckily, our cameras arrived in plenty of time for the first Instax program.

Instax locker decorating

Supplies:

  • Instax cameras (I purchased 6)
  • Instax film
  • Sharpies
  • Pens
  • Washi tape
  • Roll of magnets to cut
  • Color lenses 

Stickers and other decorations would have been ideal, too.

Step One: Show the teens how the cameras work, turning them on and turning them off. Make sure to take out the film cover prior to any programming (the first photo is always the cover).  Then let them loose! I had a limited quantity of film so I tried to limit them to two apiece, but they were quickly overrunning me. I had enough film for them to all go home with several magnets.

Step Two: Let the film develop. Instax photos don’t need shaking like a Polaroid; it’s easiest to put them down on a table and leave them. Only start decorating once they’ve developed which should be fairly quickly, or else the inks might get squeezed out.

Step Three: Cut out squares of magnets for them to stick on the backs of the photos, and voila, they have magnets to decorate their locker!

I was cautious about how receptive the teens would be to the Instax format, but several teens had their own at home, and they had their friends there and took a bunch of pictures of each other and themselves. All of the teens had fun, and really enjoyed decorating the photos with washi tape. Several didn’t develop at all, and a teen drew on them with Sharpie and took those home as well, so they weren’t wasted. Towards the end of the program, we had one picture left and a kid’s finger slipped and took an accidental, artsy shot and then we were out. But the teens were definitely interested, and they want more crafty programs like this one.


Stacey Shapiro is a teen librarian in Cranford, New Jersey, a cat mom, and a BTS fan. She was a 2019 ALA Emerging Leader and is currently serving on the Printz 2020 committee. When she has any free time, she’s playing Breath of the Wild on the Switch.

More on the Instax Mini at TLT

MakerSpace: Instax Mini Fun

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I have had an Instax Mini camera sitting in my house for some time, but Thing 2 (now a Tween, how did that happen?) recently discovered it and fell in love. She started asking me to go on walks with her and now we go on nightly walks and take pictures. And because she has spent some time in the Teen MakerSpace at my library she knows all about photo booths, so she asked me to help her make one and some props so that she could have her friends over and take pictures of them. And as always happens, this got me started thinking about all of the ways we could use the Instax Mini in teen programming.

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Thing 2 taking some pics with her Instax Mini

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The Instax Mini is an instant camera that produces pictures on the spot. The camera itself can be purchased for around 55 to 65 dollars. It comes in 3 sizes, the 7s, the 8 and the 9. If you can, I recommend purchasing the 9 because it comes with a close up lens. You can purchase a close up lens for the other editions, but you might as well buy the 9 which comes with the lens. The Instax mini is fun and instant, but it doesn’t have a lot of versatility in terms of things like shudder speed, focus and flash. In fact, the flash always goes off and it is recommended that to avoid over exposure in some situations you may want to cover the flash with electrical tape. There are some user guides out there and I recommend taking a look at them.

The Ultimate Fuji Instax Camera Comparison – Photography Concentrate

The Key Differences Between the Instax Mini 9 and Mini 8

Using your Instax Mini 8 | Some Tips & Tricks – Heidi Swapp

Let Your Creativity Show in an Instax! · Lomography

If you buy the film in bulk each pictures costs an average of anywhere between 60 and 65 cents. Be careful when buying the film, because it can go as high as $1.00 a picture. You can buy film with a plain white border or buy film with decorative borders. Fuji even occasionally releases specialty film, like Alice in Wonderland or Lilo and Stitch. You can buy sticker frames or acrylic frames for your pictures, put them into photo albums, or make a variety of cool crafts with them. You can even buy small scrapbooking stickers and decorate the border yourself.

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This is a Instax pic with a pre-purchased sticker frame. Teens can make their own frames using scrapbook paper or patterned vinyl. Cut it by hand using a stencil or using a cutter like the Silhouette Cameo.

I’ve already made one crafty display for my pictures and Thing 2 is working on one of her one that will take up a large chunk of one wall. In fact, I started a Pinterest board of Instax Mini ideas that I’m planning on trying to implement in a makerspace.

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A co-worker and I recently did our final outside outreach event of the season and we made an “I Love My Library” sign and used the Instax Mini camera to take pictures that we gave to attendees to take home and remember the library. Kids were amazed by the instant photo and their parents were excited to have a blast from the past.

Some ideas I have include:

For Teen Read Week: Have teens create a tripdic (a series of 3 pictures) that relate somehow to their favorite book. Display the pictures and see if other teens can guess what book it is. This can be set up as a bulletin board or display wall and be an interactive promotion.

For Banned Books Week: Set up a jail cell or photo booth and take pictures of teens with their favorite “banned” books. Again, this would make a fun display.

Let teens take a picture or series of pictures and decorate or display them. They can create frames, wall art, magnet frames and more. In fact, we have a Silhouette cameo and you can purchase magnet sheets that can be cut with the Silhouette Cameo. Cut out frames, then cut out a piece of vinyl to decorate the frame, and you have a great fridge or locker craft.