Making Easy Instagram Photo Frames With Jewel Cases

“Who has two thumbs, an Instagram addiction, and just bought a bunch of jewel cases?” I think we all know the answer. THIS GUY had a little art project up his sleeves.

Ever since jumping on the Insta-wagon back in April, I’ve been itching to get some of our photos printed. We just never had a place for them and were always a little wary of the quality through various printers. But a few weeks ago when I spotted a Facebook coupon for five free Instagram prints using Picplum, I ordered away (nothing to lose, right?) and I was pretty impressed with my handful of free 5×5″ prints… so, like the sucker they hoped I’d be, I purchased a bunch more for $1 per print.

My paid order was fueled by the fact that I stumbled upon something completely accidental. With a tiny trim on two sides, these square prints fit pretty darn perfectly into the front of a jewel case (you know, the clear plastic cases that CDs come in… used to come in?… do I need to refresh everyone on what a CD is?). The only reason I ever discovered this is because my five free prints were sitting on my desk on top of an old CD case, and I realized they were basically the same size.

So I swung by Office Depot and snagged a $10 bulk pack of slim jewel cases (there were 30 of them in the pack, and I didn’t need that many, but it was the smallest pack of thin ones, and I thought thin cases would look the best). Then I just slid some of my favorite prints inside twelve of them.

As you may have guessed from that first picture, I’m not designing homemade covers for some stocking stuffer mixed CDs or anything (although I guess this would work for that too). I actually thought they made for a cool way to display photos in my Man Cave Complete With Pegboards as I’ve lovingly come to call the basement these days. Because nothing too precious makes sense down there with pieces of wood and sawdust flying everywhere – but something to cover photos that I want to display (thereby protecting them from said sawdust) might just be handy, right?

It’s certainly not very fancy or overly fussy, but I really like how easy this was and how stress-free it feels. If a rogue screw cracks a “frame” it’ll cost less than a dollar to replace. Plus they look pretty great against my navy pegboard, amIright?

Total cost for each “frame” including the art inside = $1.30. Can’t buy much other framed art for that price, right? And you know Sherry loves to say that geek is the new black. CD cases are bound to be the next mixed tape/eight-track, right?

To hang my grid I just used 3m Command strips (the velcro kind for “damage free” picture hanging). I actually like to use the strips perpendicular to one another (rather than right on top of each other) – that way I have more flexibility to move things around once both strips are stuck in place (I can shift things up and down or side to side a bit that way).

And fortunately the holes on my pegboard made for a great guide when I was pressing them into place.


Wanna know a secret? I actually tucked an extra photo or two behind some of them. So if I ever want to mix things up I can just hinge the case open, swap the photos, and call it a day.

And since I have extra photos and extra cases, I can always expand my super classy inexpensive art installation across the whole board down there. But for now I’m leaving it open so I can hang some other non-Instagrammy item on the right. Ya never know when I might come across something else to dude things up down here. Although I’m surrounded by hammers and drills and saws, so I’m a pretty happy guy already.

Oh and every time we share pics we realize that we should mention a few other things on the basement agenda, so here they are:

  • stain some of the wood going on down there (like that burned shelf and the dusty and less-forgiving-because-they’re-so-light counters)
  • possibly stain the concrete floors (since they’re pretty light and not-too-forgiving either)
  • paint the old scratched up door that leads to the basement (yellow like the front door)
  • hopefully deal with the exposed ceilings (although there are things like plumbing and duct-work that hang down, making it less simple than just screwing up some drywall)

In the meantime, does anyone else have Instagram art projects up their sleeves? I’d love to hear ’em – especially if you know of other cool places to get them printed on paper, canvas, etc. Oh yeah, and if you want to follow us on Instagram you can find us at (you’ll never guess) @younghouselove.

Psst- We hear the Cultivate quiz from yesterday’s giveaway is still running very slowly/crashing. Looks like they weren’t quite ready for all of you quiz-loving folks! So sorry about that, guys. We hope they get all the kinks worked out soon… and there’s still a $200 gift card for one lucky winner (whether you take the quiz or not), so that’s the good news!


  1. Katherine says

    Bing bing bing! Winning!

    I’m heading to that site now to print a bunch of photos – I had been wondering how to showcase them but am much lazier than John, haha. Thanks!

  2. says

    Oooh! Love this. Totally stealing.

    (Also, am I the only person who still buys CDs because I just love being able to pop them in the player and page through the album art and lyrics and all that tactile old-school stuff?)

  3. says

    I adore this project ! So fun! :) I don’t have instagram or know anything about it (I mean, YES, i’ve heard of it, but I don’t really know what it is other than I think you have to have a special phone or something…bah, I don’t know)

    And although I love this project, I have to say that I’m positively JEALOUS of the space and how it’s coming along. Yes, I’m a girl in lust with a workbench and some pegboard.

    Oh, and I have to say that just because you call it an ‘agenda’ – you’re not fooling me!! It’s a to do list!!!!! I knew you had more of them. ;-)

  4. Ellen says

    I’ve also discovered I can put Instagrams into a larger “canvas” (like 4×6) using PhotoShop Elements and have them individually printed at ridiculously cheap prices – like at Costco. Then I just trim the excess. I hit on this when I was printing lots of very old non-standard sized family photos.

  5. Brenda says

    I don’t have Instagram, but I love the idea! Might even be a great way to reuse all those old CD cases I have lying around. I’m a fan of small art in grids or carefully arranged chaos.

  6. says

    Very nice! What a happy workspace! Looking forward to hearing about your ceiling solution. We have a similar issue in our basement laundry area. I would love to cover the ceiling and walls with drywall, but pipes and random important-looking things jut out all over the place.

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