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Zazzle® Instant iPhone App – New!

You’ve been wondering how to instantly turn your iPhone photos into cool products, right?

Oh, you neither?

Well, sometimes we just don’t think of all the possibilities. Some right-brained person came up with the cool idea and found some coders to turn it into an interesting app. The official Zazzle Instant page has more details. Basically, you load the app on your phone, and take a photo (or use one you already have) and play with it to create nearly instant custom products.

It’s a free app. Check it out in the iTunes store. If you use this app along with free shipping available from the Zazzle Black program (if you’re in the USA), you could enjoy quickly sending cool gifts to yourself, friends and family.

How Zazzle Instant Works

I did some test images with photos on my iPhone.

The process is

  1. Create:
    1. Choose / Take a Photo
    2. Move and Scale
  2. Design
    1. Choose product
    2. Apply filters
  3. Review
    1. Share
    2. Add to cart for purchase
  4. Go to Zazzle site and buy

It’s easy to jump back and forth between all the options.

There are currently ten filters you can apply for many of the products, but they are “either or.” In other words, no overlapping of filters. You change them by swiping across the phone.

Which products are available?

The choice of products is limited, but seems practical:

  • iPhone 5 case
  • t-shirt (different variety of filters!)
  • postcard
  • postage stamps (that’s a surprise because US postage has strict rules!)
  • messenger bags (a variety of collage options makes this one possible)
  • playing cards
  • stickers
  • photo plaques
  • pillows (was grayed out for my photos because it requires larger images – this won’t work for everything!)
  • wrapped canvas (was grayed out because it requires larger images also)
  • iPad sleeves
  • greeting cards
  • square magnets
  • buttons
  • mousepads

photo resolution warningA yellow warning sign indicates that a photo isn’t big enough to go on a product, so you won’t get blurry or pixelated images. If that shows up, you have to backtrack to Create again or choose another product.

Samples of how it works

Most products are straightforward. However, the t-shirts and messenger bags work differently than the other products because they offer a collage option that either breaks your photo into pieces and re-colors them or else adds it to an existing design.

For the bags, you try out the various filters, but can’t see much until you click next. There you can (finally) increase the size of your product view. In the case of a two-sided design like the messenger bag, we seem to be SOL about seeing the back side. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too anxious to pay $85.95 for something I could only see on one side! The easiest way to see the back turns out to be to mail the product to yourself and then open it on Zazzle. Below is the original image of a baby dress on display at the library and how it turned out with the newspaper collage filter on Zazzle Instant.

christening dress photo original

baby dress photo original – as is from the camera

newspaper filter option on messenger bagdress on messenger bag full back

Another advantage to mailing it to yourself and then opening it up in Zazzle is you will get the option to change the binding and front colors and adjust anything you like. OK, that takes away from the instant fun, but still, that’s a lot of money for the messenger bags!

Postcards and mousepads are a different story! These, you could just order without having to look closer or see the back.

The t-shirts had some interesting filters that frame your photo or turn it into a collage. For a people photo, one of the framing filters is probably the way to go. Like this TV frame shows off the baby chewing on her foot.

Zazzle instant photo of baby on TV filter

Zazzle instant photo of baby on TV filter

I found the other filters were less useful for people shots than objects or scenes. Like this 1974 filter: great on scenery, dismal on faces, interesting on objects:

scene with 1974 filterbaby with 1974 filterbaby dress with 1974 filter

How are Zazzle associates affected?

This app doesn’t offer benefits to Zazzle storekeepers or affiliates. It’s outside the regular Zazzle game, so there doesn’t seem to be a way for designers or affiliates to participate. Someone may figure one out, however! For now, you do sign in with your regular Zazzle account and password, but a created product won’t show your store name, just a numerical code for the designer. It’s just a cool option for consumers on the go in line with other instant products being offered and as part of the current liking for altered photos.

Bottom Line

The app got stuck for me after sending one of the emails and I had to power off the iPhone to re-set it. Other than that, it was pretty simple to use and there weren’t any dead ends. I would definitely consider using this to create cards and magnets and other gifts. I love the TV baby, but probably wouldn’t go for the messenger bags.

We’ll see if this app gets updated and where it goes. For now, just another cute toy in the iPhone users toybox!

Zazzle Product Review: Custom Notebooks

Wild Grapes in Winter notebookWhat did I think when I opened the package with my new Zazzle notebook?

Wow, the cover is beautiful! And super glossy! It is very true to the product image.

I had ordered the Wild Grapes in Winter Art Notebook from my Paper Lake store on  Sometimes a blue color leaning towards purple tips over to purple and looks weird, but this was just right. The Wild Grapes image is a watercolor style design created from a photograph of a sparse cluster of wild grapes against a blue-sky winter day.  I had not seen it printed on glossy paper before and I do like the printing! The translucency of the personalized text bar also came out very well.

This is a custom notebook where you can add your own name or other text to the front cover. Zazzle has thousands of custom notebooks available with prices starting at $12.95 and going up into the thousands. (People set those prices to raise money for charities usually, in case you’re wondering what makes people crazy enough to spend over $1000 on a notebook!)

To my surprise, the back cover is also glossy, although plain white. I rather expected it to be a cardboard, but it’s the same heavy photo paper as the front cover. The size is similar to the composition notebooks that I used to like – not so wide as those were, but a convenient size and not that many pages. It’s a comfortable size to stash in a large purse or tote or in a nightstand drawer. It’s too flimsy to write on without placing it on a hard surface.

notebook back cover


inside pages


The pages have black lines made up of tiny dots with a darker line of dots at the top – a nice effect. Both sides are printed and there’s a comfortable margin of white around each page. These pages are not perforated, but then, I didn’t expect them to be. The inside pages have a decent weight and a nice hand (feel) to them. The spiral binding is a double black wire and the pages do open flat.

It would be nice if there were an option to choose a different kind of page – like plain paper for sketching or possibly graph paper, but the ruled pages do work for most people.

I wrote on the pages with two different kinds of pens to see how much bleed through there was to the back of the sheets. Not bad, although a very inky pen would have bleed-through. It was acceptable with both a fine art pen and a Uni-ball pen to write on both sides.

notebook pagenotebook page
notebook pagenotebook page

Who would like custom notebooks?

You can get cute notebooks at discount stores for a lot less money, right? Why would you want to look at buying notebooks from an online store?

Simple. Choice and customization.

It’s hard to imagine how many different options there are when you order products from a print-on-demand or custom printing store like Zazzle or CafePress or the like. You simply cannot get this kind of choice any other way unless you pay a premium price.

Whether you buy a design already made up, personalize a template design or start from scratch with your own, you can get just what you want. Well, within your design capabilities, product limits and legal restrictions. 🙂

For a change, with this review, I gathered together some ideas of who might shop for custom notebooks – or who might like or use them. Here’s a not-very-long list. I’m sure you could come up with a lot more!


Their light weight would make these notebooks nice gifts for travelers. You can customize many of them with their name or a phrase. You can choose one that has the flavor of their destination city. Or you can create your own! And create another one with a great cover photo when you return!

london westminster england art deco retro poster spiral note book  French bulldog in Paris spiral notebook Railroad Tracks in Autumn Custom Travel Journal African Theme Notebook

New Parents

A notebook that fits in a diaper bag as well it fits on the nightstand might be just the right gift for new mom or dad who want to write notes to their baby or about his or her smiles and accomplishments.

Our Baby Pastel Alphabet Blocks Custom Notebook Mommy's memory Notebook Blue Baby Carriage Shower Notebook Baby blue dot scallop circle custom photo journal notebook 

Creative Writers

This is obvious! Creative writers and custom notebooks go together like macaroni and cheese. Many times the act of putting pen to paper is a different use of the creative mind and writers like paper!

Purple Blue Kaleidoscope Pattern Custom Note Books Abstract Turquoise Ocean Blue & Seaweed Green Notebooks Simple grace purple green inspiration journal spiral notebooks  Peace Love Write Spiral Notebooks W


Photographers can take notes in custom notebooks during a shoot, give custom notebooks to customers, take notes during a photography class and more. Show off photographs and collect knowledge!

Create Your Own Photo Design Notebook Stylish Initial Personalized Notebook My favorite things hot pink photo collage journal notebook Vintage Camera Photographers Notebook 


If you like to collect or invent recipes on the go, you might like to carry a cookbook’s notebook with you. You can jot notes for a dinner party, request recipes from a fellow cook or keep track of special diet or cooking details.

Hunter Hunting Sport Funny Eat More Fast Food Buck Note Books Macaroni Loves Cheese, Cute Mac N Cheese Cartoon Spiral Note Books Italian Greyhound Dressed Up Like a Chef Spiral Notebook  Notebook Vintage Retro Lady Home Canning Recipes


Those of you who plan your Christmas shopping in detail and get started in the Spring might find it helpful to carry a little notebook for keeping track of sizes and wishes and gift purchases.

Peace Joy Love Hope Note Book  Thank you, Santa Claus! Merry Christmas Spiral Note Books Whimsical Christmas Planning and Shopping Notebook Gingerbread Man Spiral Note Books


Brides can use custom notebooks for planning the wedding, the honeymoon or just writing about their special day. Custom notebooks also make excellent wedding guest books.

Heart of Sea Shells on Beach Photography Notebook Something Blue Damask Wedding Planner Journal Spiral Note Book  Personalized Bridal Wedding Journal Damask Notebooks Custom Photo Wedding Guestbook - Sage and White Spiral Notebooks

Guest Books

If you have  a house you rent out, a cottage with lots of visitors or a shop with walk-in customers, chances are you could use a guest book to collect notes, address and memories.

Up North Lake Huron in Summer Journal Spiral Notebook  Vintage Vegas Wedding Guest Book Template Notebook Watermelon Picnic Guest Book Notebook Personalized Pink Rose Floral Guest Book Notebook 

Hobby Notes

Whether your hobby is a handcraft, bird watching, genealogy, rock collecting, gardening or navel gazing, you probably like to take notes occasionally. What works better than a custom notebook just for that?

Beach Stones - Red and Orange Granite Notebook Black Lake Wildflower Photography Collage Notebook Colorful blocks of knitted yarn spiral notebooks  Genealogy Preserving The Past Spiral Notebook


The Bottom Line

Am I happy with the notebook? Mostly. I just would have preferred a much sturdier back cover. Actually, I would have liked a back cover that wasn’t glossy either.

Rating: ♥♥♥


  • Cover printed in vibrant, sharp color
  • Lay flat spiral binding
  • 80 black & white pages on 60# paper
  • Size: 6.5″ x 8.75″


With prices starting at $12.95, these are a bit pricey to buy a whole bunch for all the kids you know in school. It’s not bad for a gift or a self-indulgence. Not to keep harping on the back cover, but a sturdy back cover would have affected my opinion of the price. If notebooks have gone on sale at Zazzle at all, it was a one-time shot. Notebooks do not carry a volume discount either. Of course, there’s no set-up charge!

Competing Products:

For comparison, I checked on Cafe Press’s notebooks. They are a little bit smaller than these at 5×8 and start at $11. I had ordered one of those some years ago and it also had a flimsy back cover, but made of black plastic. You do get four choices for the type of inside paper however. I also looked at, which lets you order custom notebooks. You could order a very different kind of custom notebook there (hardcover and you can choose the type and number of pages and also print images on some of the interior pages). Blurb books start at $16.95

One thing both Blurb and Cafe Press do that is seemingly more helpful is give the paper weight on two different scales: Blurb is 60# or 90 GSM. CafePress is 60# bookweight or 24# bond. Not being a printer, I have little idea how either of those relate to Zazzle’s 60# paper. They might all be the same because 24# bond ledger paper is equivalent to 60# offset text paper which is equivalent to 90 GMS (grams/square meter).


  • It arrived pretty quickly and was well packaged in a box.

If you’d like to shop for a custom notebook, start here.  If you’d like to try creating your own, go here.


An enthusiastic Zazzle customer tells her story

The Zazzle forums are circulating this lively customer review by Kiwiberrylicious (Mariah) of her search for on-line make your own card resources. She describes in detail how she ended up at Zazzle and what she wanted to be able to do. I was really touched by how persistent and earnest she was about being able to make just the right thing for her mom. Her enthusiasm is really contagious!
My favorite line: I don’t need 10 cards! I’ve got one Mom!

My New Liberty Water Bottle Arrived!

Review of Liberty Water Bottle designed and purchased through

I’ve never liked drinking out of plastic cups or bottles, so I knew I’d be ordering a custom water bottle soon after they were introduced on At some point, you have to let go of those plastic freebie water bottles, right? And buying disposable water bottles over and over again is wasteful and expensive. And we keep hearing that some mysterious chemical in ordinary water bottles will haunt you if you re-use them! So, I’m giving aluminum a try. Plus, with custom water bottles, you never worry you’re drinking out of someone else’s bottle by mistake! (Yes, I’m an admitted germaphobe – aren’t you?)

Liberty Bottle Works

The new aluminum water bottles are manufactured in the USA by Liberty Bottle Works in Yakima, Washington from recycled materials. They’re the only aluminum water bottles manufactured in the United States. And Liberty supports artists! You can’t beat that. Liberty and Zazzle recently partnered for Zazzle to offer gazillions of custom designs by Zazzle designers on two sizes (24 and 32 oz) and thirteen colors of bottles.

Made of 100% rugged aluminum, these water bottles exceed the FDA standards for nontoxic and non-leaching food products and are 100% BPA free. Covered in a food-grade protective coating, your artwork will look amazing and your drinking will be 100% safe.

My Experience

So, I ordered a 32 oz water bottle with a design that matches this blog and it arrived almost exactly two weeks later.

UPS dropped it off in a compact (read: minimal waste) package. Good start.

I was delighted with the brightness of the colors and the clarity of the design! The colors are very true to what I have on my monitor, which is sometimes tricky with such a bright red as I chose.

I took the bottle to a meeting tonight and showed it to a couple of people who also liked the printing. We were all surprised by how it is raised just bit from the actual surface of the bottle. I have no idea how the printing is done. However, it really does look nice. Awesome, even!

I wrote my name out in Photoshop and uploaded it as an image to Zazzle to apply to the side of the bottle – a fun touch if you want to try it yourself! (Put it on a transparent background and upload as a PNG file.) I’m not sure why it came out with a few extra pixels. That could very well have been because I didn’t use a very big file. It was 195 px high and only 150 ppi. I’d make the file at 300 ppi when I make another one.
name detail

You see the orange and white sticker that describes the sealing mechanism? I was a bit surprised because the top does not get threaded on. This makes for more pleasant drinking experience and top feels pretty secure. It’s a patent pending process to do the “feel the click” turning. I wonder if this would be easier for people with wrist problems or who are older? The sticker peeled off cleanly, too, if you’re wondering.

These bottles come with a standard cap. If you really like a sports cap, Liberty does offer them as accessories.


Finally, there’s a handy-dandy how to card included with recommended care instructions.
instructions card

The Bottom Line on my Liberty Water Bottle

Would I recommend a Liberty water bottle? Yes, I think they’d make great personalized gifts for graduates and commuters and outdoor people. I drink a lot, so I was pretty sure the 32 oz size was right for me. You may want to consider both sizes however.

Here you can see that the larger size is just a wider bottle, it doesn’t appear any taller than the other one.
Bright Colors Dots Custom Name Water Bottle Bright Colors Dots Custom Name Water Bottle

I am wondering how the paint will hold up to abuse and how I will like an aluminum bottle when the summer temps hit 100º. Of course, I am always afraid of cooked plastic, so I’m pretty sure this will be better. I’ll post any updates!

Want to Design Your Own Water Bottle?

Start here: Create Your Own

Want to Shop for Water Bottles with great and/or customizable designs?

Start here: Shop Liberty Water Bottles

Zazzle Product Review: Postage Stamps

Zazzle postage stampsIf you’re like me, you don’t buy postage stamps as often as you once did. The electric bills, the car payments, the rent are paid online now so we don’t write checks and send those in the mail much anymore. What we do still mail is more of the fun and celebratory stuff in life: birthday cards, baby announcements, bridal shower invitations, graduation announcements, wedding invitations, thank you cards and Christmas cards.

Ordinary post office stamps were fine for all those bills, but now we want to sometimes splurge for special occasions and get unique or custom postage!

At, the postage stamps are:

• Real U.S. postage
• 100% satisfaction guaranteed
• 3 sizes for all mailings
• Produced in as few as 48 hours
• Vibrant printing & color
• FREE customization

People sometimes wonder: is it legal to design my own stamps or use really awesome designs like what I find on Yes, it is! The U.S. post office has guidelines about what is allowable, but they are pretty generous. Keep in mind that nakedness, bad words and religion are the main no-nos. And you cannot violate intellectual property laws or personal privacy either.

After several years of designing stamps on Zazzle, I finally purchased some myself recently. Just before the latest rate hike, unfortunately! Drats. I ordered sheets of both the small and the medium stamps: Pinecone on a Snowy Branch Painting and Heart of Shells on the Beach.

   Zazzle pinecone postage stamps  Zazzle Heart on the Beach stamps


packagingVery well done! The sheets arrived in a cardboard envelope with a cardboard folder inside so they were in perfect condition. Mine were dropped off by UPS at the door, so no worries about the envelope getting bent fitting it into a mailbox.


I was astonished at how GLOSSY and how BIG the stamps are!

Unlike post office stamps which have a very matte finish, these stamps are high gloss. If you think of glossy photos, that’s a good comparison. The colors print really well and true to the image on the screen. (Note: I have a calibrated monitor, so your results may differ!)

Zazzle and US postage stamps Zazzle and US postage stamps On the images above, standard U.S. postage stamps from the post office are laid over the Zazzle custom postage stamps so you can see the size and gloss differences.

I have to tell you that I must never have looked at the actual sizes of the in the past, only relative sizes and proportions, because I never realized these custom stamps are almost twice the size of standard post office stamps. The small stamps – which feature a square image – are almost 2 inches tall!
Heart of Shells on the Beach Postage Stamp stampPine Cone on a Snowy Branch Painting stamp

Postage Stamp Sizes

Small: 1.8″ x 1.3″ (image: 1.1″ x 1.1″).
Aspect ratio: 1 x 1.
Landscape or Portrait orientation.
20 stamps per sheet.
Choose from thirteen postage denominations.
Medium: 2.1″ x 1.3″ (image: 1.4″ x 1.1″).
Aspect ratio: 3 x 4.
Landscape or Portrait orientation.
20 stamps per sheet.
Choose from thirteen postage denominations.
Large: 2.5″ x 1.5″ (image: 1.7″ x 1.2″).
Aspect ratio: 5 x 7.
Landscape or Portrait orientation.
20 stamps per sheet.
Choose from thirteen postage denominations.


These particular stamps are currently, by size: $21.80 / $23.10 / $24.40. Prices vary by the rates of the different kinds of postage, starting with 32¢ postcard stamps and going up to $5.15 priority stamps. (Note: prices may change as the Post Office raises rates, or Zazzle revises prices or a particular designer does.)

You do pay a premium for the customization, artistry and short print runs!


Would I recommend Zazzle postage stamps? Absolutely! The ability to create or order very small runs of stamps is awesome. And the printing is wonderful. If you have a special occasion coming up, custom stamps will really set off your cards or letters.

I would suggest that you choose the small stamps for postcards, however. You can see in the matching postage stamp and postcard image that a bigger stamp would overwhelm the postcard!
stamped postcard
Many designers create sets of wedding or party invitations with coordinating postage. If you are looking for custom stamps, check out the options below.

Love & Weddings



Browse other gifts from Zazzle.