Monday, August 17, 2015

DIY Try: Wooden Letter Wall Art

I wanted to make some really cute monogram letters for my roommate and I to decorate our new living space. Since my name is Katelyn and her's is Amie, I bought a K, an ampersand and an A. They didn't have a K in the larger white letters and they didn't have an ampersand in the black letters, so I decided to mix and match a bit. This project is a play on the typical monogram letters that you see everywhere nowadays. (I admit to owning my own monogram necklace) Those monograms are so generic and don't really showcase what makes you unique, so I decided to display my personality by designing my own wooden wall art monogram letters. They're not huge, so they could be hung on our dorm room door, but they also stand up on their own, so maybe I'll set them on our bookshelves.
Wooden Letter Wall Art Image of Original Letters

  • Wooden Letters (I used 7" letters that I found at my local Michael's Craft Store)
  • Sandpaper (I used 120 grit for a fine finish)
  • Acrylic Craft Paint or Spray Paint In Your Desired Color
  • Scrapbook Paper and other Embellishments
  • Matte Medium (Modpodge could be used in place of this)
  • Paint Brushes (I also used a foam brush in this project) 
  • Ballpoint Pen or a Pencil
  • Scissors (I recommend using a pair of scissors that you know can cut detailed shapes)
  • Newspaper (To provide a surface for painting and drying) 
  • Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks (I used tacky glue in my project but believe that hot glue would adhere better to the surface)
  • Smock or Apron (It's going to get a little messy!)

So, I began by sanding off the top layer of paint on the letters so that when I repainted them, the paint wouldn't get all splotchy on the glossy surface. I used a 120 grit sandpaper which gave the letters an even surface and successfully removed the majority of the paint. I wasn't able to sand the edges of the letters because of the odd shapes that some of them formed, so I needed to put some extra layers of paint on the edges when painting them.
Once I had sanded off the top layer of paint from my wooden letters and cleaned up the huge pile of dust that had accumulated during this, the letters were ready to be decorated. I began with painting my ampersand with a layer of Craft Smart orchid craft acrylic paint. Craft acrylic is pre-mixed with thinner, so it is ready to be used directly from the bottle. 

The paint dried kinda streaky, so I did about three different layers of paint on the top of my ampersand. I made sure to do each layer of paint in a different direction so that when it dried, my brushstrokes wouldn't be visible.

As you can see in the image on the left, the paint shows the direction of my brushstrokes, but in the right image when the paint has dried, there are no evident brushstrokes. After the top and sides were painted and dried, I took my ampersand outside to the patio for spray painting. You want to make sure you have good ventilation when spray painting because the fumes aren't meant to be inhaled or breathed continuously. 

I used a purple glitter spray paint that I picked up at Michael's Arts and Crafts. The paint probably should have been sprayed from farther away to give it a more even color, but I didn't want to accidentally get spray paint on my parent's nice patio table and I didn't have any newspaper to make a drop cloth. I ended up using paper towel as a drop cloth, but the paint started to seep through and I had to quickly transition my project to the ground for drying. 

I waited a while for this to dry out in the sunlight, but probably should have left it out there for a little bit longer because it was still kind of sticky after sitting out there for only two hours. I don't think the spray paint has any color to it, just glitter. 

I had a whole lot of rhinestones left over from when I decorated my powderpuff football jersey. Did you know that you can actually get a one pound container of rhinestones at Hobby Lobby? I don't know why I thought I would need that many rhinestones, but they've lasted me quite a long time and are super fun to play with. Every chance I get when making a craft project, I add rhinestones- partially because I have so many and partially because I love rhinestones.

Next, I began adding the rhinestones to my wooden ampersand beginning at the bottom with the largest rhinestones and then gradually getting smaller as I moved up. I used tacky glue to apply them, but I think that hot glue would do just the same job.

I began with my largest rhinestones and put them along the outsides of the shape. I let these rhinestones dry in place before adding more stones because if you apply too many at the same time without time to dry, they slide around when you try to place stones next to them.

I'm also having my dad drill a small hole in the backs of all of my letters so that they can be hung with a command strip when I get to school.

For my other two wooden letters, I chose to decorate them with a scrapbook paper. I began by sanding these letters down with 120 grit sandpaper and avoided sanding the edges this time because I learned how much of a pain messing with them could be from doing my ampersand. The two letters were black, so I chose to use black and white patterned scrapbook paper for their front faces.

For the K, I picked a black and cream floral pattern that has a semi-glossy surface. For the A, I picked a cream pattern that is fainter but will later be accented. My sister helped me pick the pattern for my roommate's latter because I really don't know what she would like. Once the project was finished, I decided that the cream looked too plain and switched it to the same pattern as the K.

I used a ballpoint pen to trace the outline of my letters onto the scrapbook paper as closely as I could. I tried to trace lightly in case I cut a little sloppily and my pen marks ended up on the finished project. I made sure to utilize the straight edges of my scrapbook paper because it will be a lot easier when I cut the letters out knowing I have some definite straight lines that will match up when I glue the paper to the letter.

I cut the letters out as precisely as I could, trying not to get any of my ballpoint pen markings on the piece that was going to be added to my wooden letter. Because the pen couldn't get exactly to the edge of the shape when I traced, I knew that I would be able to cut slightly to the inside of my outline and it would still fit my letter.

Once I had my letters cut out of my paper, I set all those supplies to the side and replaced them with a foam brush and a jar of matte medium. Matte medium can be bought at most craft stores; the particular jar I used was from Dick Blick. It's very similar to Modpodge but dries without the glossy surface. If you wanted to get a glossy finish and didn't want to use Modpodge, gloss medium would do that for you. Matte medium is a little bit cheaper than buying Modpodge and is useful for many different techniques. (I like to use it when collaging!)

I covered the surface of the letters that I had sanded with a layer of my matte medium. I regret using the foam brush for this because it made the matte medium kind of bubbly from being pressed through the odd material of the brush. If I re-did this project, I would either use spray adhesive to attach the letters initially or use a regular paintbrush.

I applied the scrapbook paper letters starting at one corner and working my way out to make sure that no wrinkles formed underneath. I then put another layer of matte medium on top of the paper  and around the edges of the letter. I used a pretty thick layer of matte medium in this step, so it took a while to dry. After it had dried, I added one more layer just to seal it together.

I broke out my sandpaper again and slightly distressed the edges of the scrapbook paper. This helped get rid of the extra paper that may have been hanging over the edge of the wooden letter and also helped transition the paper onto its surface. You can distress your letters as much as you'd like to give them a shabby chic vibe.Once I distressed my letters, I did one final coat of matte medium and played the waiting game once again. Then, my letters were ready to be decorated!

I then used some of my washi tape to go around the edges of my letters. I used a bright floral pattern for the ampersand and a black and white, vintage printed one for the K and the A. Neither of them was the exact size of the border, but I folded over the edge on the floral tape and it worked out perfectly. The black and white tape was a thinner tape, so I let a black border show on the bottom.

This particular project had a lot of waiting for things to dry, so if you're doing multiple letters at once like I did, I suggest staggering them slightly so that you can work on one while another dries. The great thing about this project is that you can decorate the letters however much you want, and, honestly, the letters look pretty cute before they were decorated.

If you have the time, it would be super cute to spell out a word or a name with these wooden letters and then use them as wall art. I just did the initials because I'm very limited on wall space in my dorm room and I'm not quite sure what my roommate will be bringing decoration wise.

I can't wait for my roommate to see these after all of the hard work that I put into them. I hope that she likes them as much as I do! I'm keeping this as a move-in day surprise and hope to have them up before she gets there. You'll get to see the final result in my official dorm room tour post which will be posted in a little over a week.

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