11 May 2010

Mother's Day Project Unveiled!

Now that all of the Mother's Day presents have been sent and opened, I can post about the awesomeness that was this year's gift idea.
Picture blocks that spell things!
I originally got the idea after looking through various pages on Etsy and had an "I can soooo do that!" moment in front of my computer. Especially since they were selling for $50 a set. (I'm now taking orders for picture blocks. $50 a set.:))
12 blocks of wood, sawdust all over the living room and one can of acrylic sealant (the odor of which still lingers in the kitchen) later, the project is complete. 
Here's what you need:
Enough wooden blocks to go along with what you're trying to spell - I went to our local lumber store and asked for scrap pieces of 2x4's.
Things to sand with - sandpaper and a Dremel works great for rounding edges.
Paint - I used spraypaint because it dries so fast.
Decoupage glue
Foam brush
Acrylic sealant 
Photoshop software
A good printer
First of all, if you do what I did and get the wood from a lumber store, they're going to be pretty rough. You'll want to sand down the edges, which in turn coats your entire living room with sawdust.
Why did I sand everything inside? Because The Office reruns were on.
Next, give them all a nice coat of whatever paint color you want. I chose black because I did the photos in B&W.
That's an old towel we use for the dogs. It's now in the trash.
I then re-sanded the front edges of the blocks to give them an antique-y look.
Next is where it's tricky if you don't know how to use a computer. I took old photos of me and my sister (M and his brother for my mom-in-law's blocks) and touched them up in Photoshop. I shadowed the edges, brightened some of the shadows in the pictures, then used some of my favorite fonts to create the letters. The letters got a nice little glow to help them pop. Important - measure your blocks before you start working on the pictures! You don't want to have to cut someone's forehead off just to get the photo to fit right. Print them out on regular printer paper and start cutting.
My favorite picture is the "O" - the obligatory bathtub shot. That's my sister, the conehead. Very fitting.
Next, get all your supplies ready. This after I cut the picture down to make it fit the face of the block.
Take your decoupage glue and spread it all over the face of the block. You will, without a doubt, get some on your fingers. That's part of the fun!
Once the block is coated, gently...GENTLY press the photo on top. GENTLY. Use a Popsicle stick to smooth the photo - you don't want any wrinkles. This is also tricky...smooth too much, and the paper becomes wet from the glue and might rip.
Let this dry. For real. Don't get in a hurry like I did and try to add the coats of decoupage and then have to rip the picture off and start all over again. Drying in between steps is mucho importante!!
This is the one I messed up. You're supposed to add a bunch of coats of the decoupage glue to set the photo, but not before everything beneath it dries. See the wrinkles? See how the color is coming off of my face? That's what happens when the paper gets too wet and you don't let it dry between steps. Dry! Dry dry dry!
Patience is not one of my virtues. (Amen, says my mother.)
Through trial and error, here is the finished project. I think it turned out ok.
Ignore the "E" photo - I took this picture before I re-did the wrinkly mess. But you can still get the whole effect of the blocks.
If you look carefully at the "A" photo in the Walters' blocks, you'll see my husband as a little punk at Disney World. He and his brother are standing in front of the castle and his brother is smiling like a good little boy...while M has a complete look of pure attitude on his face and stands there with his arms crossed.
Kind of like our wedding pictures.
So happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there! I hope you all had a fantastic Sunday. xoxo


Mel C said...

That is so super duper cute!! I am so steeling this idea for Christmas gifts!! LOVE it!!

RCW said...

I love it Sissy! And I think the conehead photo is adorable. I always was the cutest child.

Grace Wheeler said...

Wow Addie! These are awesome! I'm sending this link to my sister who is very crafty and loves projects like this (and finds time to do them despite her 3 little kids!) :)

Dianne said...

One of my most favorite gifts ever. Proudly displayed on my mantle! So unique and such a treasure! Glad you took pictures to display cause I'm not the best photographer and couldn't get such a good shot.