8 Creative Weekend Printer Projects
Conserve Ink on Web Print-Outs
By now, any decent Web page should have a link to a "printer-friendly" version of its content, especially for things like reservations, e-tickets, articles, or maps. Sometimes, though, they're just not that great. Maybe you're running low on ink and it simply won't print without the images, or the formatting is off and you'll waste paper.
Never fear, PrintWhatYouLike.com is here. Just plug in an URL (or use the handy-dandy bookmarklet) and the site will open up a copy of your desired Web page, with a sidebar that lets you pick and choose which text fields, images, and other page elements to print and how it should look.
Design Your Summer Line
Funny T-shirts may be plentiful, especially from online stores like Threadless or BustedTees. But at $20 pop, the cost-to-chuckle ratio is laughable. Making your own out of plain T-shirts and iron-on inkjet transfers, however, costs significantly less: Iron-ons are about $6 apiece.
Such do-it-yourself designs can be a great way to liven up your T-shirt wardrobe without spending more than what you do on work clothes--and if you find some designs that really stick, you can opt to get those T-shirts printed in a more permanent fashion elsewhere. (Read "Design Your Own T-Shirt" for more tips on T-shirt design and printing.)
Of course, you don't need to stop at t-shirts, either. Most iron-on transfer sheets work with any fabric blend that is at least 50 percent cotton, so you can print your own tote bags, trucker caps, and more.
Throw a Party
"Party" might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of printers. However, the amount of free printable party decorations on the Internet is absolutely mind-boggling: Epson's CreativeZone, HP's Creative Studio for Home, and Canon's Creative Park are good places to start for party kits for everything from pirate parties to Kung Fu Panda lanterns. You can also download plenty of home decorations to spruce up your home or party venue, including a collection of projects by Martha Stewart. Banners, invitations, place settings, nametags--it's all here for your kids and adults parties alike.
Take Close-Up Photos
If you have a multifunction printer with a built-in scanner, here's how to go beyond boring old document scanning: Use them to take close-up shots, just by putting stuff directly on the scanner glass. It's called "Scanography," and the results can be both beautiful and bizarre.
Scanners typically have a rather shallow field depth (generally about half an inch at most), and they take much longer to process an image than a digital camera, so the clearest images come out with flat inanimate objects, like flowers and leaves, which can yield a very vivid high-resolution image that a camera cannot. Of course, these shortcomings can be used to artistic effect, as well. Scanning a human face, for example, will obscure most of the face in shadow (due to the field depth), and if the subject moves at any time the image will be "wavy" and distorted.
Have your own printer projects (or pictures) you'd like to share? Post them in the comments!
Patrick Miller is a staff editor for PC World. Find him off-duty @pattheflip.