Welcome To Our Little Big House On The Prairie

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Motivating... DIY Wall Art

"Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it."
~ George  Halas

This quote, by George Halas, a pioneer in American professional football, are words we can all live by.  And it is also a very good summarization of something I always tells my boys before a game or a match:  "If you do your very best, you have nothing to be ashamed of.  All I care about is that you give 110% and have fun doing it."

On my last post, I showed you a picture of a few odds-n-ends that I picked up to work on a project for the boys' room:

A few months ago, I ran across this awesome little dealie on a blog while randomly looking for ideas for the Diva's room:

Here's the link for it HERE.

I completely fell in love with how it grabbed your attention with its boldness, yet it projects simplicity at the same time.  What a statement maker.  I also adore the message - from the Bible, as well as one of my favorite songs by Steven Curtis Chapman.

My first thought was to use the idea for the Diva's room, but thinking about it more, I decided to put something similar in the boys' room.  I wanted to use it as something that inspires them and keep it so simple that the words not only become a mantra because they see it so often, but also something they keep with them for the rest of their lives.  So, I decided to put my own twist on her original idea.

My first step was to purchase a piece of plywood from Menard's.  Luckily they have a help yourself section, and I had plenty of sizes and thicknesses to choose from.  I went with a 3/4" 4'x4' sheet knowing I had plenty of wall space to use.

I lugged that bad boy home (Thank goodness for my Yukon XL with its awesome storage space), up the stairs, and into the Diva's room that is, by necessity, becoming my workspace, while we wait for the skim coat to cure.  After layering newspaper on the floor, I laid the sheet flat and primed the entire surface.  I didn't bother roughing it up, as it was already pre-sanded.

Then, I waited overnight for it to dry.  I didn't get around to putting the first coat of paint on it until later that evening since we were busy.  I have a really great local True Value store, that helped me mix the exact match to U of I's Gold when I painted the boys' room a year ago.  They have it saved in their computer as "Hawkeye Gold" for me, so if I ever needed it again (which it turned out I did), they'd have it.

Unfortunately, one of the new kittens that we got last week got shut in the bedroom with the sign and decided to contribute her own artistic talent to my wall art.  Silver Lining:  That area will be covered by another coat of paint when I finish, so I didn't have do put on another coat of paint.  WHEW!

After painting, I began thinking about my lettering.  In her post on Pink Coffee PhotoArt, she used regular 6" letter decals from an office supply store.  I decided I didn't want to purchase that many decals because my saying is a little longer than her's.  I still had plenty of contact paper left over from using it on the basketball player's chest of drawers, so I decided to use that instead.

I went on my computer and found a font that I liked for the signage.  I went with IMPACT in a size 600 font and printed them out on my handy-dandy printer.

Something you might do, but I didn't think of is to figure out how many multiples of letters you have in the phrase or saying you're going to use.  It never even crossed my mind to do that, so I printed out all of the letters.  And OF COURSE, my printer ran out of black ink 4 letters short of completing the entire quote.  So, I had to stop in the middle of what I was doing and make a run to Wal-Mart.  Not to mention the amount of trees you'd save.  :)

Then, I went about tracing the letters onto contact paper.  It took me about an hour to trace all of the letters.

After tracing all the letters, I put each word into a pile and laid anything I could find that was heavy on it to flatten the letters out because they wanted to roll up.  I left them like that overnight.  Worked like a charm.

Finally I started on the task of using an X-ACTO knife to cut out all of the letters I had traced.  That took me about an hour and a half with breaks after every 3rd word.

I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't going for perfect.  I found doing anything with a curve pretty tedious, but any straight lines were a snap.  I think I'll probably get better with that in time.  Plus, I want the wall art to have a home-made aged look to it.  I just kept repeating to myself when I would goof up:  "Its not supposed to look perfect."  Pretty hard giving that up for a perfectionist like me.

After I was done cutting out all the letters, I laid them out on the board to get a feel for where I should place the words, how many words per line, how many lines I would need, and spacing of the letters and the lines.

I'm really not sure why the camera makes the board look longer than it is wide, but it really is a true square.

My next step was to mark lines using a pencil to make sure each line was straight and evenly measured out.

I'm what I like to call leveling-challenged.  I can't draw a straight line even using a ruler.  My husband hangs all the pictures in the house.  I can't even tell that the line I've drawn is at an angle.  Its ridiculous!  And frustrating!  So, when I'm having to draw a straight  line, I first measure vertically from a straight edge and use hash marks across the surface I'm drawing on to make sure when I lay the ruler horizontally, I'm keeping it straight.  Each line was exactly 66 cm apart.  I don't know why I used centimeters, it just happened to be the side of the yardstick I was using.

Then I measured 4 across the width of the surface...

After painstakingly (I'm sure you'll be able to do it much quicker if you can draw a straight line), measuring out all four lines, I laid all my words out again to figure out the best placement of the letters.

Because I ended up with some extra space at the bottom, I went back to the computer and printed out an 8x10 of our school mascot, the Go-Hawk.  I thought that added a nice touch and was glad it turned out that way.  So I would remember where I had placed each word, I put a hash mark beside the first letter of each word and a line where the center of the Go-Hawk needed to be.

Next I began to apply the contact paper letters.  At first, I was kind of concerned  because the contact paper really didn't seem sticky enough to adhere to the painted plywood.  That actually turned out to be a God-send because then I was able to move them around quite easily and didn't have to worry about the letter getting stuck at an angle or spacing that wasn't right.  When I got the letter positioned properly, I used a credit card to smooth the letters and get out all the air bubbles, just as she advised on her blog at Pink Coffee Photoart.  It worked wonderfully!

Here's what it looked like once all the words were on:

I realized that the "O" in nobody is actually smaller, but I have no clue how I managed to do that.  However, I decided to leave it because I thought it looked neat (Read:  I told myself it wasn't supposed to be perfect anyway!").  It took me just under an hour to finish this stage.

The next part is pretty simple.  Just cover the entire piece of wood in your secondary paint color.  I, of course, went with black.

I chose to use a brush to apply the paint.  The idea is for the sign to look old and worn, so I wanted visible brush strokes in the paint. I have to admit, that at this point I was holding my breath because I wasn't sure if the contact paper adhered enough for the paint not to seep under it and ruin the crisp lines.

Here's what the board looked like completely painted with the 2nd coat:

At this point, I put a fan on it and closed the door on it.  It either would or wouldn't work, but boy I sure hoped it would!

Unfortunately, it did bleed the slightest bit.  Maybe I should have gone with the decals from the office supply store, but what do you do when something doesn't work exactly the way you planned?  You make it LOOK like it's supposed to be that way.  I ended up with an sign that looks like the yellow paint is peeling off the black surface.  WORKS FOR ME!  And in the end, perfect for a bunch of rough and tumble athletes.  Lord knows, nothing stays perfect for long in their room anyway!  ;)

Here's the final result:

Not too bad for a gal that has not one stitch of craftiness in her.  :)