Patent prints on the cheap

In the Parade of Homes pics, I shared a photo of a couple large-scale patents leaning against the wall behind the desk. Today I wanted to share the how-to for this art, which cost practically nothing.

When I was looking for something to hang on this wall, I wanted something big that would make a big impact. But big usually means expensive. I found a few patent prints online that I loved, and I was about to pull the trigger and order some that cost more than $60 each (and that’s without the frame).

Fortunately, I remembered at the last minute that patents are available online. So I did a quick Google search and found the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where I could search for any patents (football, make-up compacts, tractors, cheerleading, bicycles, trucks—you get the picture). I even found the exact patent for the football print I almost bought; it was easy to find because the print online has the patent number right on it! I just searched that number, and voila! The patent came right up.

Visit the U.S. Patent Office and scroll down until you see this; then click on “Quick Search”:

Next, you’ll see the screen below. Make sure when you are searching that you change the years to read “1790 to present.” The best images are the earlier ones.

You guys, this is so easy. Just find the patent you want, save the PDF, and print it as an engineering print at Staples or the like. I printed both the lipstick and the football patent at 24″ X 36″ for $3.47 total. I probably spent more on gas driving to pick them up than I did on the prints themselves.

Does that lipstick patent look like a tampon to you? 

Here’s one heads up: Engineering prints are flimsy, so they wrinkle easily. Have your frame ready before you order your prints so you can get them right into the frames before they’re damaged.

Another option would be to print the patents as posters, which would have much heavier paper. This would also allow you to print the patents in reverse (black background with white image), which I like better. Images with 30 percent or more black ink cannot be printed as engineering prints because the paper is too thin. Still, if you print a poster, it will cost less than ordering a print online.

Hope this is helpful and that you score some big artwork for just a little dough. •

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