In one of her blog postings, Sharon challenged her readers with the question, “What’s on your kitchen table?” I replied, “Nothing—all the clutter ends up on the kitchen counter.” But I hated to admit that I really had absolutely nothing on the table; after all, Sharon’s blog is all about having a nice looking table that shows your family you care about meals with them! So, I followed up by telling her that, even though I’m not into centerpieces, I do dress up the table a bit with colorful placemats.
Some years ago, on a trip to Israel, I discovered a fantastic souvenir—placemats made of laminated photos of scenes in the Holy Land. They were relatively inexpensive, light weight, and fit perfectly into a carry-on suitcase. And there were lots of them. Every tourist site had an assortment and I ended up with more than a dozen.
One day it occurred to me that, with the technology available at self-service print shops, I could make my own personalized placemats.
The first one I made shows our party riding camels in the desert.
Our shadows are on the back side of the placemat.
I have found two ways to make placemats. The first is very low-tech, involving 4x6 photo prints. The second method took some help from the experts, as I went to the print shop with my pictures on a flash drive and got the technician to help me with the process. I also wanted to compare two different print shops, so I went first to FedEx Office and then to Office Depot.
At FedEx Office I put my 4x6 color print onto the copy machine screen, chose “color” and set the enlargement to 283% to increase the size of the finished picture to 11x17 inches. I enlarged two photos to that size and then put them back-to-back, securing them with a bit of “Glue Stic”. One of the employees helped me with the laminating process.
Before going to Office Depot with my pictures on a flash drive, I worked with them in the computer, trying to make them the right size. (For a standard placemat, you want the ratio of height-to-width to be 2:3; the original pictures had a more square shape, the ratio being 3:4.) At Office Depot a technician put my flash drive into their computer and told me that I had a little problem—my pictures were in jpg format, and they needed to be in pdf format. I don’t have the right software to do that, but the fellow told me that they could do it for me—at $1.00 a minute. Fortunately, he was a fast worker and this part of the procedure only cost $5.00. He also had to resize some of the pictures.
Once that step was done, he pushed some buttons and soon my 11x17 pictures were sliding out of a printer.
Then he put the pictures back-to-back and ran them through the lamination process. Office Depot offers two weights of laminate, 5 mil and 10 mil. Five mil seems most suitable for placemats.
FedEx Office charged $3.56 for two color copies, size 11x17. The cost for laminating was $3.99. So, the total for one placemat was $7.55.
At Office Depot I had three placemats made for a total of $15.17, including the $5.00 for changing to the pdf format. The color copies were 20 cents each (I expected the price to be 49 cents—maybe they were having a special sale that day) and the laminating was $2.99 for each placemat. Office Depot’s lamination was lighter weight than what FedEx offers, and I like it better. With the lighter lamination the pictures seem brighter.
With four new placemats in hand, I was ready to show them off to my family on Friday night when our two adults sons usually have dinner with us. We staged the photo after the meal because you wouldn’t be able to see the placemats with food and plates on the table.
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