Repurposed photo slide curtain project brings memories to life

My grandfather was an avid photographer, carpenter, and pastor. He loved documenting the world around him and capturing moments in time. Years ago he had captured his mission trips to Alaska and parts of Mexico on slides. He would also capture his trips to Hawaii and the adventures of the northwest destinations and share them in photo slide shows with our family on many occasions.

When my mom delivered four binders full of my grandfather’s slides this summer, I knew I wanted to do this photo slide curtain project. It was time to start. I’d found blogs from ideas for repurposing photo slides a few years ago and had wanted to do these with my own slides. But I ended up getting rid of a lot of my slides over the past few years. I had mentioned this project to my mom and she reminded me this summer.

So I started by getting the tools that I used to create the curtain. I had the slides in the binder, so I spent the first afternoon pulling all the slides out and laying them on the floor. I took measurements of the window in my kitchen where the curtain would go and then used the measurements to fill in the curtain on the floor with slides.

The measurements called for 15 slides per row, and for 15 rows, totaling 225 slides. I also went to figure out how many I needed to get the correct number of clasps to connect the slides. I used Jump Rings, which I got from Michael’s. For drilling the holes, I borrowed a coworkers drill, which worked well. I used a 1/16 drill bit, which didn’t last the entire project. Due to the amount of pressure, and how many holes I drilled, I ended up breaking the drill bit. I found replacement bits at Home Depot.

Each row took me between 1–2 hours to drill the holes, insert the clasp, and close the clasp. I found that for me it was easier to use a pair of scissors than the jewelry clamp that I purchased at the store. I’m not someone who uses my hands in putting together something so detailed, so it took a lot of patience for the attention to detail involved in the project. I used these curtain clip rings to clip the rows together, which I found at Target.

Since the curtain is finished, I can share that I’ve learned a lot in the process. I didn’t go into the selection of the slides intentionally, and now I know for the second curtain I’m planning to make, I’ll use darker slides. A few friends had mentioned that they would fade with constant exposure to light, but I didn’t think ahead on that too much! So going into the next set of curtains, I’ll use darker slides. I also will be doing two panels, not one. As this panel became wider, it was harder to work with attaching the clasps and connecting the slides. So I’ll be making a set of panels for the kitchen window which will have the ability to open and close, and will be smaller.

My neighbors had commented that they watched my progress over the past few months and would notice the curtain “grow” over time. I started this project in July and it’s November. I worked on it once a week, with some weeks working on it twice a week. It was great to share my progress online as well. I had great feedback from many people who loved to see this DIY project improve over time. My family also enjoyed seeing my grandfather’s photos come back to life and you can check out more of the photos here in the full gallery.



Deb Schell, Author and Community Strategist

Community Strategist, Author, Podcaster, Designer. Find Calm Here, where community strategy meets intentionality.