This guest blog post was written by Elizabeth Miller.
With online retailers and electronics stores trying to sell everyone the same ten iPad cover designs, it’s time for a design revolution. If you’re not particularly crafty it is possible to find semi-personalized products online for around $50 plus shipping and handling, but if you have a knack for design or know what you like, it’s possible to customize an iPad case for much less with a simple run to your local craft store.
Before You Begin:
First off, you will need a plain iPad case. You can find one at your local Apple store, other electronic retailers, or any other place that sells office supplies online. Clear ones or those of a solid color are much less expensive than graphic designs. If you like the color your iPad came in as a base for your design, a clear one will work best, but if you prefer another solid color feel free to shop around. Once you have the case as your foundation you will need a few other supplies.
-Mod Podge, or any other brand of decoupage sealant and glue
-Paint or permanent markers
-Cleaning items such as rags, soap, and a paint scraper
-Photographs or magazines
-Butcher block paper
-Other items that you may use to finish off your project
Once you have your materials, you should use the drafting paper, pencil, and ruler to lay out your design. This is the most important step in your process. As they say, ‘failing to plan is like planning to fail.’ You should trace the exact dimensions of your iPad case onto the drafting paper then use your pencil, ruler, and other items to lay out the exact design you wish to add to your case. It is possible for someone to get lucky and design something amazing on a whim, but it takes hard work and lots of plastic safe solvent to start over, unless you bought a metal case, so better to be safe than sorry.
Now that you have your design laid out, it’s time to start preparing a space to work. Mod Podge or other decoupage glues and sealants are generally water based for easy clean up, but if you don’t clean them up quickly they can fuse quickly with natural woods. You should definitely cover your work area with butcher block paper, an old sheet or towel, or use a work table that won’t be destroyed if it gets messy. It is also a good idea to be close to a sink as sticky hands make it difficult to place your design pieces where you want them.
Cut out, lay out, and design all the pieces you are going to place on your case. If you’re making flowers, cut them out and lay them close to hand before beginning. If you want to paint something, use a grease marker to lay it out on the case so you can erase as you go. Once you have everything ready it is time to begin.
If you are placing items on the case, use the mod podge as an adhesive and carefully place them where you want. You can move them for a short time before the glue sets in but it’s easier to be careful and get it right the first time. If you’re painting, paint in layers and stages. By letting the paint set in and dry you make sure that it is less likely to flake off or run out of the lines you laid out with the grease marker.
Once everything is in place and dry, cover the entire case with at least two coats of Mod Podge, letting them dry fully between coats. This is a sealant and will protect your art work, 3-D or otherwise from being destroyed as you use your iPad.
Try not to use items that have metals in them. Metal buttons, wire, aluminum foil and etc can get you in serious trouble if you travel, especially through airports, or if the building you work in has metal detectors. These items can also become very hot if your iPad is left in a car or by a heat source and will sometimes melt your case. Double check what is in your buttons–sometimes they are metal coated with plastic. The best hint of all, have fun!
By following the above steps, as well as using your own creativity, you can not only create something lasting and beautiful but something uniquely you. Express yourself through this creative process and when you get sick of the same design, use plastic safe solvents and start over.
Elizabeth Miller is a contributing writer for Viking.com and a crafting enthusiast who lives by the motto, “if you can make it, then why should you buy it?”