Friday, April 6, 2012

Awesome Scrabble Letters {epic fail}

Not all DIY projects have a happy ending...luckily for me, I found a way to turn this epic failure into a success story!

So, if you're at all in love with Etsy like I am, you've probably seen lots of cute things and thought, "oh, I can't afford that, maybe I could DO it."  For me, it was huge scrabble letters for Mr. S's 30th birthday party.  I mean, you can't have a game themed bash without scrabble letters!!  Well, when I first checked a few sellers for large letters, I was looking at about $6 - $8 each {a steal for home decor} but as I was going to use them to spell out "FOOD" and "LOVE" and 1 custom designed one, I really didn't have the budget to spend about $70 on this part.  So, I started Google-ing tutorials.  I found a few that appeared promising (links at the bottom) but went with this one from Green Wedding Shoes.

First, you need the wood blocks.  If you are fortunate to have a miter saw or table saw, you can buy long, thin boards ( think 1/2 in x 5 in x 48 in) in the building supply section of your local home improvement store and cut them at home.  Some stores will cut it for you, but that's WAY less fun! ;)

Cut the board into square pieces based on the width of the board.

Next, is printing your letters onto the wood.  So if you jump to the bottom and check out the other links, you'll see that a laser jet printer is one requirement.  This is because all of these methods of transferring some image/letter/etc onto wood uses water to remove the paper.  A laser jet printer uses heat to melt a powdered ink to the paper, which bonds it there and that's why photocopies don't get all ink-runny when they get wet, but papers out of your home printer do.  (As most home printers are inkjets which use water soluble ink.)

However, the directions from Green Wedding Shoes are not specific to the type of print necessary and I had all the other items I needed from that how-to. I go creating from their directions my scrabble letters
 (printed backwards!) on card stock to become my awesome scrabble we go:

So as you can see....I started by running the card stock under water like the instructions said, but this wasn't working {and I PAY for my it's wasteful to just let the water run} so I decided to turn it face down in the sink of water.  In the instructions it says the card stock should release and come off on it's can see that it didnt... So as I used more water and rubbed the paper off the ink began to ran!  The ink ran probably because I used an inkjet printer.  Should have known better....

I ended up with this:

Not so pretty and definitely not going to work (imagine I had 3 other letters to go!).  Luckily, I only did the word "FOOD" first as a test.  Unfortunately, I waited a while to do these thinking they would go smoothly and there were too many other things to worry about to do them WHAT TO DO!?

First, I had to breathe...and think...and let them dry, because they were very wet from being in the water and they were warping from the expansion (caused by the water).

In design school we did some pretty extensive lines with sharpie markers when we would forget to hatch wall sections and such on the computer before plotting.  So if your scrabble letters looked like this and you have a steady hand....don't worry!  I used a fine point Sharpie marker to trace around the letter and number like this:

Fill in the small number with the small sharpie, because the larger one would've looked fuzzy and not crisp enough.

Then fill in the rest of the letter with a larger tipped sharpie.  You can use a fine point on the entire thing if you have that kind of patience...

I don't know why blogger wants to
 rotate this image?!

So here is what I had when it was partially done...

Once all the letters are filled in and dry, you can spray the whole block with a clear top coat to protect it, if you wish or if it is going to come into contact with water.

And here's what they looked like with the sharpie fill-in:

I don't think they turned out too badly! :)  If you want to see them in the party, check them out here!

For how to's (that might actually work for you! lol) try these websites:
Wholly Kao's Photo-to-Wood transfer
Green Wedding Shoe's tutorial
PetaPixel's Wood Block Photo

And here's one I hadn't seen before I did this for transferring color photos to wood using an inkjet printer and t-shirt transfer paper!  From another power-tool savvy lady!  Tool Girl Mag Ruffman

Hope you have good luck with your photo to wood transfers!! I think next time, I'll just buy the letters! ;)

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