Monday, November 14, 2011

Family Rules Sign... Inspired by a gazillion Pinterest finds.

I have an awkward space in my front entry.  The entryway itself extends to the ceiling of the second floor, but there's a coat closet next to the front door that does not, creating a big flat white space that is too high to conveniently access, so it's mostly been a catch-all for dust and socks and bouncy balls.  I put a couple things up there, but it's never really felt like a purposeful space.

So lately when I've been seeing scads of wooden signs with fun quotes or family rules on them, that seemed like a fantastic solution for that space.

Inspiration found here, here, here, and here.  These are just a few of the things I pinned, but if you search "wood sign" or "family rules sign," you'll find a LOT of other inspiration as well.

So I started looking out for some old pallets or character-filled old wood.  But then I heard that it is actually dangerous to use wood pallets in your home -- they are basically filled with all kinds of bacteria and chemicals and who knows what else.  Click here for a good article from "Cheap Like Me" about the dangers.

Boo to that.  I don't like the look of old wood enough to lose sleep at night over whether my DIY project is going to give my family cancer.  So my plans kind of hit a wall until I saw this pin about using vinegar and steel wool to age new wood.  What?!  I didn't really understand how it worked from that blog post, so I did a little more googling and found this post from {Show & Tell}.

Well, after I found that I could not stop thinking about this project until I did it, even though I had approximately a gazillion other things that really needed to be done first.  I did it in bits and pieces over a couple of weeks, but really it only took a couple hours of actual work and I LOVE the result!  I took pictures along the way so I could share a tutorial with you.

First, buy cheap fence pickets from your local lumber source.  I picked up these 3 1/2"(ish)x6' cedar pickets at Home Depot for about $1.37 each, and I used 6 for this sign.  I used my circular saw to cut off the "dog ear" picket part, then cut each picket in half.

To prepare the vinegar wash, I got an old glass jar out of my cupboard and cut up a piece of steel wool into the jar.  I then filled the jar with vinegar and let it sit for 24 hours.  The vinegar will start to disintegrate the steel wool (I used 0000 grade steel wool, which worked great.  Since you're trying to break it up, I'd imagine the finer the steel wool the better).  I shook it every once in a while, mostly because I'm not good at just sitting and waiting.

After the 24 hours, I just used a cheap-o paintbrush to dip in the vinegar solution and brush it over the wood.  And just like magic, the wood immediately began to "age."  When you get to this point, experiment a little with the strength of your solution.  When I first brushed it on, it turned almost black.  I added a little water to my solution until it turned just the right grey-brown.  (I experimented on one of the pieces that I was going to use for the back of the board.)  You can see in this pic the difference between the straight solution on the left and the slightly watered-down version on the right.

I treated all the wood -- it seriously took me less than 5 minutes to brush the solution onto all the pieces after I figured out the right solution -- and let it dry thoroughly.

New wood on the left and vinegar/steel wool treated wood on the  right.

I then let my kids (since this was a collaborative project) decide how to lay them out, then we flipped them over and use two of the boards to put them all together from behind.  My original plan was to use screws to attach them securely, but I decided that since it wasn't going to hang and there really wasn't going to be a lot of stress on the bonds, I would just use Liquid Nails adhesive glue to put it together.  Once we got it on, we stacked paint cans on the boards to keep them firmly in place while the adhesive set.  (Actually, first Sam and I stood on it, but we eventually got bored...)

This might actually show the difference between the treated and untreated wood better than the  other picture, because you can see where all the splashes have changed the back just in spots.

I used yellow paint to freehand the branches on, then lightly sanded the whole sign.
Bright yellow tree -- not quite what I envisioned.

Everything sanded -- much better.
My family and I collaborated on what our family rules should be.  "Have fun along the way" is our family motto -- all about loving and appreciating and being grateful for where you are in life instead of waiting for something to come along and make you happy -- and the rest were things the kids or I thought up.  In the end they wanted more than I wanted to put on!  There are several ways that you could put your letters on the wood, but I laid it all out on the computer, then used my Cricut and Sure Cuts a Lot software to cut a stencil out of vinyl.  It took 4 12x14 sheets of vinyl to get the whole sign.

With the vinyl adhered, I just used a cheap brush and some leftover white paint (from my kitchen cabinets) and kind of half-brushed, half-stippled it on.  I wanted a really worn finish, so that technique worked really well.  At the bottom I hand-painted the "always."

I let the paint get mostly dry, then removed the vinyl and voila!  A real (and really meaningful) statement piece of art for my entry that cost less than $20 beginning to end.

You can see it as you whether you are coming into the house or leaving, and it fills the space quite nicely.  The finished product is nearly 3' square.  I'm still working on exactly how to style the area around it, but for now the little yellow birdie in my vintage canning jar is making it a happy space.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Quick Vintage Birthday Card

I love when I get to make cards or gifts for my sister-in-law Caitlyn -- she's crafty, too, and our styles are really similar.  So it's no surprise that when her birthday rolled around this year I had no trouble finding inspiration for her card.  This came together so quickly and is definitely one of my favorite cards I've made recently.

I first cut a 4x4 square of book-y paper from 7Gypsies and stamped 3 flowers onto it.  I used pearlescent chalk from Pebbles, Inc. to color all around the image, then used a Viva Pearl Decor pen to dot the centers.  I mounted that to a kraft cardstock base and added the stamped sentiment (Studio G).  I added the lace trim (Fancy Pants) and velvet trim (Stampin Up) to the bottom and I was done!  I adhered the trims with Scor-Tape.

Isn't it funny how some cards or projects you agonize over and spend forever on and then you're still not sold on the result and other ones just come together perfectly, quickly, and you love them?