Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shelly's Studio Presents: Be the change

So I have an awesome and super crafty friend named Sheila.  We met through Harper's school.  (To those of you who told me that local friends would happen once Harper was in school, you were right! Thank you!)

Sheila's birthday was yesterday.  She tries to ignore this birthday thing a bit, but we weren't very cooperative.  So of course a birthday project had to be made because I can't really afford Sheila's real birthday wish -- a private island.

Here's what I made (and had to hang on my wall for a few minutes of course):

- Boards cut to approximately the same length + boards for the back to hold it all together
- Screws (I used 1 1/4 inch screws, but use whatever is appropriate for the boards you pick)
- Glue
- White acrylic paint or white gesso (I prefer gesso or white primer because it dries very "flat" (not shiny))
- Brown acrylic paint or stain
- Accent color paint (optional - I used aqua craft paint)
- Water
- Container for the paint/water mix
- Waterproof covering for your table (a trash bag will work fine)
- Paper towels
- Baby wipes (optional)
- Large paintbrush
- Small flat paintbrush (I used a #6)

I started with some old board scraps we had sitting around (you can find scraps at home improvement stores in the giveaway bin too), and I attached them together with GLUE (don't forget glue - you will regret it like I did) and screws.  PREDRILL your holes for your screws that you don't split the wood pieces.  Here's what the back looked like:
PAINT the front with some white gesso or a watered down white acrylic or latex paint (even white primer will work fine).  You can even use a different light color of paint if you want (light blue, green, pink, etc.)  I used a light coat of white gesso, and I didn't paint the sides of the boards (they end up brown later). 

A fun step after painting - If your boards are too perfect, DISTRESS them with a hammer, screwdriver, anything else you can think of to make marks on the board.  You can go as crazy as you want with the distressing. 

Then collect these supplies:
- something waterproof to cover your table (I used plastic coated paper from the grocery store, but a trash bag would work great too.) 
- brown acrylic paint (or stain will work too)
- water to thin down the paint (I use about a 40% paint, 60% water mix)
- a large paint brush
- paper towels
- baby wipes (optional, but I like this step)
Here's a step that looks a little scary, but it all works out in the end.  Paint the thinned down brown paint onto the boards -- paint the sides too.  You don't get extra credit for being neat here.  Just get that brown paint on there fairly quickly.  You might be thinking, "Wow, that's really brown."  Well, get the paper towels, and start mopping the brown off. 
Then (if you want) use BABY WIPES to remove even more of the paint.  Just a heads up - if you rub too much, the white paint under the brown paint will start to also wipe off and wood will start to show through.  I like some of that, so mine has a little wood showing through here and there.  I dripped on three blobs of the optional acrylic accent paint (I used aqua).
 And I used baby wipes to spread it across the boards.
Ok, time to get a cup of tea or coffee and do some breathing.  Let the boards dry completely.  Besides, the next step is the lettering, so we need to settle down a bit from all this excitement.  Stare at your boards for a while and make a plan for where the words are going to sit.  I didn't have a big plan at first, so I turned the boards upside down, and then back, and then back again.  I ended up turning mine upside down from where I started because I thought the words would fit better that way.

Scared of painting without guides?  DON'T WORRY.  Here's another way you can do this.  On your computer (in MS Word or whatever word processing software you use), find a font that you like, make the letters BIG (maybe 250 point to 350 point depending on the size of your boards).  Print them out.  Use graphite paper and trace the letters onto the board.  Don't have graphite paper?  Flip your printed pages over, and color all over the back of them in pencil (use the side of the lead like when you were a little kid making rubbings).  Now you have your own graphite paper on the back of your papers.  Trace away.

So, time to begin.  I used the white gesso and flat #6 brush to paint my letters.  I won't lie, it was a fairly slow process. 

- Don't use too much paint on your brush. 
- Don't press down too hard on your brush tip. 
- Use BABY WIPES or a wet paper towel to wipe away mistakes.
- Turn your board as needed to get a better angle.
- To get an even spacing, paint letters from both the left and right sides (that is why below, the word "WANT" was painted before the "U" in "YOU".  I wasn't exactly sure how much space I would have, so I went to the right side and painted the T, N, A, and W.  Then I came back and painted the U.
- Use the square tip of the paint brush to go back and make "squarer" ends on your letters.  This ends up looking better than the more rounded end you may get when making your first brush stroke to make the letter.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH!  Attach a hanger on the back (I used two screws and some wire), and you are done!  ENJOY!


  1. I should post the picture of how amazing it looks on my wall!!! I LOVE it and I LOVE your new "how to" on your art page!!!! I'm lucky to have such an amazing AND talented friend!!!!

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  2. This is awesome and you make it look so easy!

  3. congratulations sheila on your birthday, and that amazing birthday present that you received

  4. Shelly--you are generous on so many levels. Gift to Sheila and to all your blogettes.

  5. So beautiful!!! I've always wanted to know how to do one of these. Wish I had your talent with lettering!

  6. Beautiful sentiment and project! Happy Birthday Sheila! I wish that Shelly lived near me!

  7. I absolutely love this!!! Fabulous!