Craft Project Time!
Pat and I recently celebrated our first anniversary. So of course, that meant I needed to come up with the perfect gift. Oh sure, I could've made this easy on myself by buying one of the videogames on his Amazon wish list, or pretty much anything signed by an astronaut...either of which he would've LOVED. But I wanted to get him something a little more sentimental and unique to mark the occasion.
So I went straight to the best place to find things that are "sentimental and unique": Etsy.com
And of course, Etsy had the perfect gift. A cute little custom picture with 3 maps in the shape of a heart, each map representing where we met, married, and live. It was perfect...except that it didn't match the decor in our bedroom, which is where I envisioned it would go.
|See, a while back, Pat and I came across this cute little piece of wall art in a cute shop (see right).|
We impulse-purchased it on the spot because it actually contained some of the things Pat said to me in his vows (true story). That cute little box sign resided in our bedroom, where it looked all small and lonely by itself on the wall.
So I thought the idea of the "We Met We Married We Live" sign would be a great little compliment to our lovey-dovey-schmoopy-bear themed bedroom wall art...except for the little fact that it didn't match.
And here's where I did something terrible. I decided to steal the idea from Etsy and make one myself - one that would look good next to our little box sign. To be fair, Etsy sells lots of these little signs, so I'm not even sure which of the crafters had the original idea in the first place. But whoever's idea I stole, just know I'm terribly sorry. There, my soul is cleansed. Now I'll tell you how I did it:
|First, I went to my trusty Amazon, and found another matching box sign from the same brand as our original sign. I wanted my new box sign to be slightly longer than the one I had. There are a ton of variations of these little signs, so I basically just shopped around until I found the one in the dimensions I wanted. This is the one I wound up buying:|
This gave me a nice base that would perfectly match the wall art that was already in our room. I briefly considered building this from scratch, but I figured for only $16.50, it was worth the convenience of buying one pre-made...and one that I could be sure would match perfectly.
For the next step, I sanded off the writing on the new sign (150 grit on electric sander), and touched up the sanded parts with a little black stain: Minwax 70012 1 Quart Dark Waln (Google Affiliate Ad). These signs have a worn look to them, so I used a light hand with the stain. This left me with a blank box sign:
Next up, I found the appropriate maps online. I basically just searched google images until I found ones I liked. I then printed them out at home using glossy paper on my inkjet printer. In case you're curious, our maps are of Atlanta (we met), Cancun (we married), and Northern VA (we live). I then traced a heart shape on the maps and then cut out the hearts with plain old scissors and a steady hand.
I also bought some silver letter stickers for the wording: Sticko Letters/Numbers Sticker Value Pack, Black, Gold and Silver Small, 840-Pack
I decided I'd better practice my letter-stickering-skills before applying the real deal (there are limited numbers of each letter so I couldn't afford to ruin any). So I decided to practice by putting a little message inside the back of the frame. Yep...it's a little crooked. Good thing I practiced first :)
Next up, I used 3M General Purpose 45 Spray Adhesive, 10-1/4-Ounce to apply my heart maps. Spray Adhesive is essential. DO NOT USE GLUE STICKS OR SQUIRT GLUE! It will come out lumpy if you do. Spray the adhesive directly on the back of the heart map while being careful not to touch the printed front with sticky fingers (you might smudge the map print).
After my maps were attached, I added the letters.
TIP: When adding the letters, always align the middle of the phrase with the point of the heart. So, for example, for "we married", the phrase is 10 letters long, counting the space. The middle of the phrase is between the 'a' and the first 'r'. So affix those letters first, aligning them so that the point of the heart lines up perfectly between the two letters. Then continue to add the rest of the letters working outward from the middle. Do the same for the other two phrases, always making sure the bottom of the heart lines up with the middle of the phrase. This will keep everything looking even.
|For the final step, I sprayed the whole thing with 3 light coats of Spray Polyurethane. Wait 30 minutes between each coat. I chose a Satin finish for this because I wanted it to match the matte look of the other box frame already on our wall. However, I think a gloss finish would also look amazing if you're not trying to match another piece (as I was). So choose whichever finish you like here.|
The Big Reveal: Here's Pat after opening his homemade present (and potentially concealing any disappointment in the fact that I blatantly ignored all those hints about that new Assassin's Creed game that he really wanted).
Here's how it looks on our bedroom wall next to our other box sign. We clearly need to add one or two more things to turn this into a grouping, but adding another worded box sign would make it too wordy. So this little wall art arrangement is an ongoing work in progress. We will continue to look for the perfect little piece(s) of wall art to complete this space.
I'm really happy with the final product. I was a little worried that the inkjet-printed maps would bleed when I applied the polyurethane, but that didn't happen. Since we already had the adhesive, stain, and polyurethane in the basement, this little project only cost me what I paid for the stickers and the box sign. Total project cost: $23
In keeping with the theme of being crafty, I also got Pat another gift: A set of supplies for making your own DIY cufflinks. He's already made a couple of really neat ones, which will be the star of an upcoming post. To be continued...