Decorative Letters

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Throughout our college careers (as is the norm for most college students), we’ve constantly been on the move — in and out of dorms, sorority houses, apartments. Each new school year comes with a new place and new people to call home. While definitely exciting as each place will inevitably bring new memories with our friends at school, it makes it a little harder to create that “home away from home” feeling.

When we moved into Towngirls (the 4-girl room in our sorority) together sophomore year, we decided to make a little housewarming gift for our roommates to brighten up the standard white walls and grey carpets of our room and make the place feel a bit more lived-in. Since then, it has been a tradition to begin each school year with this housewarming gift for our new roommates.

This craft is unbelievably easy to make (you’ll be surprised) and can be tailored to each person’s favorite color, pattern, etc. These letters make the perfect housewarming, birthday, holiday gift for friends and family — really, it’s great for any occasion!


Materials:

  • Cardboard letters (we got ours on Amazon, here)
  • Acrylic paint/paintbrush (you can also use spray paint)
  • Decorative paper (we got ours at the Paper Source, here)
  • Modge podge
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

After carefully peeling off all the price stickers from the cardboard (you want to begin with as smooth a surface as possible), we began to paint the letters completely. Two layers ensured a rich paint color. Let dry completely before moving on!

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Next, we flipped the letter upside-down and traced onto the matching decorative paper with a pencil. It’s really important to make sure you are tracing the letter backwards onto the back side of the paper — we don’t want to pull a Karen from Mean Girls!!

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Then, carefully cut out with scissors. Make sure to stay as close to the pencil line as possible so that the paper lines up with the letter so there is no excess or shortage.

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Finally, we painted Modge podge onto the front side of the letter so we could attach the decorative paper. Carefully lay the paper onto the Modge podged surface so that there are no wrinkles. Press down firmly to secure.

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Now you’re ready to keep ’em, gift ’em, hang ’em on a wall – whatever your heart desires!

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Happy Modge Podge-ing!

– Kirby and Michelle

Wooden UCLA Sign

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This is a really exciting time of year to be a UCLA Bruin with the Men’s Basketball team ranked *3rd* in the NCAA. Woohoo!!! Although, to be honest, is there ever a time we’re not trying to show off our Bruin pride? No. As we’re both graduating early and in our final quarter of school (aaah!!!), we’re trying to make the most of our time here – taking advantage of our Den passes to watch the Men’s Basketball team dominate in Pauley Pavilion, enjoying the 70˚F “winters” on campus by Janss Steps, and spending every night with friends who will soon be going their separate ways.

We decided to step up our school spirit a bit with these wooden, distressed UCLA signs. It’s a perfect way to decorate a college apartment and sturdy enough to last forever once you become an alumni. While we’re obviously partial to UCLA, this craft can be tweaked to represent any school/team you desire…even that school across town. 😉


Materials:

  • One 4 x 2 (we used Pine wood)
  • Sand paper
  • Wood stain and rag
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Acrylic paint: white, blue, and gold (yellow)
  • Water
  • UCLA cutout
  • Pencil
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sawtooth picture hangers or command strips to hang

Locate a piece of wood that allows you enough space to decorate to your liking. We opted to cut a 4×2 into four equal-length pieces which we glued together because it adds a little extra texture and character to the final product. Sand down so that the edges are smooth before staining.

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Once you’re happy with the surfaces of the wood, wipe it down with a wet rag to remove leftover wood shavings. Now you are ready to stain it! To get the color the correct richness, it usually takes three layers. Rub it on the wood with a rag and let it dry for 15 minutes. Then, rub off the excess stain with a damp rag and let the leftover stain dry for three hours. Repeat three times for best results.

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After the wood has been stained and dried, sand down the pieces. This wears down the wood and stain a little bit to create a more distressed, vintage look.

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Next, mix the white acrylic paint with water. Our mixture was one-part water, one-part paint – feel free to play around with your own mixture depending on how distressed you want your final product to be (the larger the ratio of water to paint, the more diluted the mixture will be). Once the mixture is to your liking, rub onto the wood with a rag. Let dry.

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With wood glue, glue each of the pieces together on the long end. Hold pieces together with a clamp while drying so that they are secured and will not come apart with time.

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Once all the wood pieces are secured to each other, carefully trace your UCLA cutout onto the wood with a pencil. We taped the cutout to the wood in some places to make the tracing process easier.

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Paint inside the lines of your UCLA tracing with yellow paint. For better results, we painted three layers of yellow onto the wood. The more opaque the yellow paint is, 1) the better it looks against the wood and 2) the fewer number of layers you will need of blue paint on top! Let dry.

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Next, trace the inner part of the UCLA logo on the wood. You can print a shrunken-version of the original cutout to trace or estimate depending on what you are most comfortable with. Paint within these new lines with blue paint. We painted three layers to really ensure there were no spots of yellow shining through.

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From here, you have a few options to hang the sign on the wall. You can install sawtooth picture hangers (like these here) onto the board and secure on the wall with nails. This is the sturdiest option. Because of our college living arrangements we were unable to nail into the walls. Instead, we used command strips.

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Now you’re ready to hang your work and show off your school spirit!

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We chose to hang ours above another craft that showcases some of our favorite UCLA memories. It’s a simple craft that involves many of the same steps as the UCLA sign. Once the wood pieces are secured with wood glue, attach wire to it with small screw eye bolts (like these). Then, hang pictures from the wire with small clothespins.

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Go Bruins!

– Kirby and Michelle