I’m not a painter, but I play one on TV.

1 May

Actually, I’m not on TV, but you probably already knew that.

So, last year was the year of the baby boom. We’re talking 5 (I think? I started to lose count) couple friends from church, and another pair of friends of ours, all multiplying before our very eyes.

One of my awesome friends asked if I would paint letters for her little miracle’s nursery. Seriously, he’s a miracle. “They” said she wasn’t able to have kids, but he’s here and he’s adorable, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, I don’t consider myself a painter. I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember, but I only dabble in paint for fun. I tentatively said yes, and she assured me she had complete faith in my ability to make them look great (because she’s convinced I can make anything,) so I looked at the bedding and decorations for the nursery, and matched the letters to the vintage sports theme they had going on. I didn’t want to charge her, since it’s not normally the kind of thing I make, and I also wanted it to be a present for her and the baby. So, she bought the supplies and I got to painting. I was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out.

It's no Rembrandt, but I was happy with the results. More importantly, she was happy with them!

As soon as I posted the pic on Facebook, another friend asked if I would do a Texas Ranger’s themed set for their soon-to-be baby boy.

So, for the next baby shower, I asked my other mommy friend if she wanted letters, too. She and her hubby came to the decision that they would wait until their daughter was a little older so that she could decide what theme she wanted. I thought that was so sweet, so I gave her an IOU, and I can’t wait to see what little Lila wants her letters to look like.

Next, another friend actually commissioned me to paint letters for both her boy and her girl! I think I freaked out a little more than I did with the others, since she’s paying me to do them, and she’s trusting me to make executive decisions, so it’s taking me longer than I would like to get them “right.” We decided on an old school superhero theme for her boy, and a Disney princess theme for her girl. This is what the superhero letters look like so far:

These are two of the finished letters. I don't know if you can see it, but the edges of the letters are navy blue, and each image is outlined in glossy black. Every superhero emblem is going to glow in the dark!

So, all of a sudden, I’m having fun painting, and I wanted to share with you guys that you can do this, too, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or painter. I’m not being modest; I’ve never taken a painting class in my life, and I know these aren’t exactly masterpieces. I’ve seen sites that charge quite a bit per letter (and rightfully so,) but this is something you can do yourself if you stick with a simple theme and basic shapes. So, if you have a kid in your life, or a new mommy friend, and would like to give them the gift of the kiddo’s name spelled out on the wall, try it! The supplies are relatively inexpensive, and you won’t use all of the paint you buy on one project, so you get more bang for your buck. If you aren’t up to spelling out a long name, go with initials, or just the first letter of their first name.

What you need: 

Wooden letters from a craft/hobby store (anywhere from $1.99 – $3.99 ea., depending on the size and fanciness of the letter shape)

Acrylic paint in the colors of your choice (anywhere from $.75 – about $3.99 a bottle, depending on the quality of the paint, and the size of the bottle – dont forget to check the clearance section)

Brushes in different sizes (about $5 for a good beginner’s brush kit)

Stencils, if you don’t want to draw a design (I’ve found good ones at the dollar store)

Metal zig zag hangers or ribbon to hang your letters (keep in mind, they can also be displayed on a shelf, so you can skip this step)

E6000 or some other super strong glue suitable for metal and wood if you plan to hang your letters

Some plastic or cardboard to cover the surface on which you’re painting

A thick paper or plastic plate to use as your palette

Measuring tape or ruler

How to make it: 

1) If you’re not into drawing at all, you can always paint simple polka dots, stripes, or plaid, splatter paint, or stencil the design onto your letters. If you’re comfortable with your drawing skills, sketch your design lightly in pencil on your letters.

NOTE: You may need to remove staples from the back of your letters if they came with a hanging tag. A small flathead scredriver or small needlenose plyers will do the trick to pry those babies off. I won’t lie, I had to have my hubby get most of them out for me, so if you can’t do it yourself, you can probably skip this step and still be able hang them if you like.

2) Paint in stages. Start with your background color, then build from there. If you have large sections of your letters that will be a drastically lighter color than the background color (like the sports or superhero themed letters,) do not paint over those sections with the background color. It will take more time and effort to cover the area in a light color if you’re painting over a dark one.

3)  Take your time, and let your paint dry before you start painting the next section. Nothing more frustrating than smearing your paint because you needed to brace your hand against the letter while painting. Plus, it will give you a break if you need to stand, or if you’re starting to hurt because you’ve been hunched over your letters.

4) If you find it hard to paint the edges of the letters, here’s a tip: use thumbtacks or other objects to prop the letter up off of your painting surface. It will bring the letter closer to you, help avoid hand cramps from trying to awkwardly hold the letter, and will keep the letter from sticking to the surface on which you’re painting.

5) Once your letters are painted and totally dry, turn them over and mark the center of your letter toward the top. (I put two hangers on letters like the capital “H” for stability.) Adhere the metal hangers or ribbon with your insanely strong glue. Insanely strong usually equals very smelly, so be sure you’re in a ventilated area, and use the glue sparingly.

You’re done! You can get really creative and add glitter or 3D elements to your letters. Heck, if you don’t want to paint them, you could create collages with decoupage, cover them in fabric, even stain them and use a woodburning tool. Also, if you don’t know any kids, this is a nice gift idea for a monogram for a newly married couple, or even for yourself to spell out inspirational words on your own wall.

If you decide to get crafty, please send me pictures of your finished product! I’d love to share them on my blog.

Gentle hugs,

Chels

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2 Responses to “I’m not a painter, but I play one on TV.”

  1. bandia17 May 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Those letters are gorgeous! I’m going to have to try that with my daughter. She’s 8 and loves to paint and do crafts.

    • Chelsea May 4, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

      Thank you, bandia! That’s a great idea – I think it would make a great mommy/daughter project. I’d love to see how they turn out!

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