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Vintage-inspired custom name letters: a cheap and simple craft tutorial

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how to use children's book pages to cover letters for a kid's room

I recently finished transforming the Little Red Caboose into this for Levi’s room:

I love the vintage — yet still bright — feel to this personalized wall decor.

It’s a project that cost me under $10.00, is one-of-a kind, and easy enough for most any novice crafter to pull off.

Creating these is fun and simple!

1) Gather your supplies:

1. Letters spelling your child’s name. (Choose a “thin” letter if you want to use them on the wall, or a “thicker” letter if you want to them to stand alone on a shelf.)
2. Clear varnish. (I prefer spray varnish.)
3. Clear-drying PVA craft glue.
4. Paper of your choice. I used a $2.50 classic golden book, but you can also use scrapbooking paper, photographs, comics, or anything else you wish.
5. Screw in hooks (if you choose to hang them on the wall).

2) Tear the paper into strips of your liking. (You can cut them for a more geometric feel, but I prefer the soft edges you get when tearing.) For this example, my strips are about 1/2 inch wide.

3) Layer and glue the strips over the face of your letter using the PVA glue. (Don’t worry about glue squeezing out the edges – it will dry clear!) Choose a “random” look to layer your strips (like I’ve done) or lay them carefully side-by-side for a more “ordered” look (choose vertical, horizontal, or diagonal). Make sure there are no little spots left uncovered.

4) Turn the letter over and glue strips along the edges of the letter. This will serve as a base to ensure no “empty” spots when you’re gluing your original strips (from the front) down over the edge.

5) Trim the strips down with scissors so that they are more manageable. Make sure to leave enough to work with though – perhaps one or two inches.

6) Fold and glue the end of the strips from the front of the letter over the edges. This will give the edges the same “random” look as the surface of the letter.

7) Trim the edges again. You want to make sure you don’t have excess paper all over the place so that your letter can lay flat against the wall, but you also need to ensure there is enough excess edge to fold over the back so that it will glue down easily. About 1/2 a centimeter works well.

8) Glue down the last bits of paper to the back, making sure that all of your corners are as crisp and clean as possible.

9) Put any final touches on the front of your letters. I like to include some key phrases from the text of the book.

10) Let your letters dry thoroughly. After they have dried, if you notice any bits that were not glued properly, add more glue and smooth everything down. Wait for it to dry again and re-check. Repeat this until you are completely satisfied.

11) Begin your varnishing process. Lay the letters on wax paper (or something similar) and spray the varnish over your letters, covering both the front as well as the edges. Do this at least eight to ten times, letting the varnish dry between each spray. The varnish will protect the paper, prolong the life of your letters, and add a shiny, finished-looking surface to your piece. (Of course you should be doing this part outside!)

12) Attach hooks to the back if you plan to hang them on the wall. (Make sure to measure carefully so that they will hang evenly.)





13) Add them to the nursery wall or wherever else you had in mind and applaud yourself for being a creative genius. Ok, applaud yourself for making a really simple (and inexpensive!) craft that makes it look like you’re a creative genius.

 

 

 

Dear friends, I don’t “get crafty” often, but I have fun when I do. Aren’t these cute and simple?! The possibilities are endless. Try using a major color theme on each different letter or using alternate color themes every other letter. Try using the Sunday comics or text only from your favorite book, newspapers, or magazines. Try using your child’s favorite Disney-theme books or a classic Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme book. Try using sheet music or favorite photos from a family trip. Try using various patterns of scrapbooking paper in a similar color scheme. Try… well, you get the picture! The possibilities are pretty much endless!!! Enjoy.

always thrilled by decorating on a dime,


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13 Comments

  • Reply Jennifer Kay 20 February 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I think they are awesome, I always wonder how people think of things like this or I'll say "Man, I wish I would have thought of that!"

    Levi will treasure those someday…

  • Reply cooperl788 20 February 2011 at 9:04 pm

    These are so cool! I've been thinking about making over Georgia's room, and this would be a perfect way to add something special for her. I'm definitely filing this under "To-Do!"

  • Reply Emma 20 February 2011 at 9:27 pm

    That's a really neat idea. We are off on holiday this week so am looking for some ideas of crafts to do with Chick. I'm pretty sure that she'll love this idea!!!

  • Reply Becca 20 February 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I love this idea! I know I want to do letters once we name our baby, and I'm definitely putting this on the idea list.

  • Reply Twinbaby 21 February 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I really like the concept of your artwork.. It is really inviting to everyone's eyes..Neat and yet looks expensive. I've got to try this one.

  • Reply Lindsey 21 February 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Beautiful! I love this idea and you're right — it looks simple enough. Unfortunately, it looks like our son is going to end up with a much longer name, so it may take me some more time!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

  • Reply Branson @ Reflection of Something 22 February 2011 at 12:04 am

    I totally LOVE the idea of using pages from a children's book! That is brilliant!

  • Reply Kerry McCullough 22 February 2011 at 2:39 am

    Wow, those are so cute! I can't believe you MADE them. That's some serious talent :)

  • Reply L 22 February 2011 at 5:34 pm

    You are just too creative! I think this would look awesome in a photo frame too.

  • Reply Amy 23 February 2011 at 2:57 am

    Those are so stinkin' cute–I'm not at all crafty but I'm going to try this!! Thanks for the great idea!

  • Reply Jill 14 April 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Super cute! I'm doing this with sheet music and vintage book pages for a more 'grown-up' look. Although, this will be perfect for my Christmas gifts for the kiddies in my family – time to get gluing!

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  • Reply holy flippin moly. it sure was a wild ride. « The Mommyhood Memos 30 December 2011 at 1:24 pm

    […] This was the month I found out I was pregnant… and also the month that I got eaten by the tired monster. Apparently many of you could relate. I also got my craft on and posted a tutorial on some adorable vintage inspired custom name letters. […]

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