Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DIY: Paper Mache' Letters

As I've mentioned many times before, I have an obsession with anything monogrammed. It could be because I happened to get one of the coolest letters ever, "N", but that's a biased opinion. I also love ampersands. I know, I'm weird.

Steve and I have done some major home decor renovations in the apartment the past couple of months (my way of coping with the fact that we didn't purchase my Westchester dream-home as I had led myself to believe we would). As part of re-doing our oversized hallway, I wanted to find an "N", "&", and "S" to hang above our mirror. Unfortunately, the fabric-covered letters from Anthropologie are a little to feminine for my boyfriend's taste and, unless I want NY Giants memorabilia evenly spread throughout the house, I have to respect his wishes for a not-too-girly apartment.

Most craft stores sell pre-made, unpainted paper mache' letters, but there's only one option- Serif Font, capital letters only. I wanted something a little more vintage looking and lower-case, so JoAnns was not going to be help me out this time. Then I found this helpful DIY blog post from Me Like Stuff where she explains how to make your own "Big Letter".  Here's my take:

  • For the base of the letters I used a sturdy old box. I figured corrugated cardboard is easiest to cut, but be careful because it also bends easily- not good for structural purposes. If I were to make another set I might use chipboard or foam core instead, but this works fine if you're careful.
  • For the spine of the letters I used a lightweight cardboard I stole borrowed from work. Posterboard would also be ideal. The bendier, the better.
  • After taping my letters together into their shape, Steve and I made the decision to not paint them after they were paper mache'ed. We had an old 1970s gossip magazine laying around so I cut the interior pages into strips and planned to leave them exposed (inspired by Anthropologie's Savannah Animal Busts). Remember to save your favorite parts for last so that they're on top (I found a snip of a lingerie ad for Steve's "S" that I wanted to show)
  • Craft Tip: Cut lots of SKINNY strips for the curved parts of the letters- they lay smoother when paper mache'ed on and you can always conceal them with the bigger strips later
  • Other Ideas: Aside from painting the finished product, you could also cover them with fabric, fabric strips, paint them, or use maps (another fave of mine). The options are endless! 
  • TADA! all done! I didn't cover the backs of the letters because I knew I'd be hanging and not leaning them. Plus, I was rushing to get it done for house-guests. Super unique and SUPER cheap home decor project! Give it a try :-) 

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