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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Alphabet Wall

Preparing for a baby is a lot of work...

...and a LOT of cardboard! 

Between the furniture deliveries and the boxes and packaging of various products, I had a ton of cardboard and styrofoam. I have four large garbage bags full of stryofoam and more to bag up, and I had at least three recycling cans full of cardboard, and more boxes to break up.  
I felt awful wasting all of it, and breaking up all that cardboard made my back hurt just thinking about it... So I think I came up with a fantastic idea to use it for some nursery decor!

I love the look of alphabet walls.  I've seen them all over Pinterest and they all look amazing! Most of them are made with wooden letters and painted with different designs or patterns on them. I like the look of alphabets that use more than one font, to keep it interesting. The craft stores by me only sell one font of wooden letters. And they're pretty pricey, about $5 a letter.  I could've purchased a random font alphabet from etsy but they're also expensive, although they are beautiful.

I decided I could try to make an alphabet wall myself. If I had more artistic talent, I'd draw the letters myself.  But my handwriting stinks, and I've never been able to draw very well. I opened up a word document, typed out the alphabet, made the font HUGE (like 600 pt) so each letter would take up around a full page. Then I went to town on different fonts. This was a lot of fun, but also time consuming; it's harder than it sounds to make something look random yet cohesive. I think I did a pretty good job though.  Now for the really time consuming part...

I planed on using the materials that would otherwise go to waste to create the letters for the wall.  Either stryofoam or cardboard. First I tried cutting out the letters in stryofoam. The stryofoam was thicker, sturdier, and would make more of an impact on the nursery wall.  Perfect!  Or so I thought...

Oh my goodness! What a mess! I thought stryofoam was messy before I broke it up. Once I cut it with an X-Acto knife all teeny tiny little pieces got EVERYWHERE! 

My X-Aacto knife wasn't deep enough to cut all the way through the stryofoam so I had to use a steak knife. Which, if I wanted to do all 26 letters, would seriously dull the knife.  I could just see me saying to my husband later on, "Oh sorry you can't cut your steak darling, I had to use the knife to cut stryofoam!" Oye...

I came across an article on Decozilla and the wheels started turning again.  I wouldn't be wrapping them all in fabric, but I love the idea of using cardboard.
And it wouldn't be my first time working with cardboard.  Here's a picture of one of my college art projects where we had to make a large version of something small from cardboard. I decided to make glasses, and they were a big hit!
I had a friend who wanted to buy them so he could put them on statues as a joke/prank. 

I could wrap a bunch of letters in scrap book paper, gift bags from my baby shower, wrapping paper, or just plain white paper then paint over that.  I think painting directly on the cardboard would leave the grain of the cardboard still visible.  And some of the letters still have pieces of shipping information on them.

I've started cutting out the letters on cardboard and it is SO MUCH easier than the stryofoam, not to mention a lot less messy. I'm using two pieces of cardboard to thicken it up and make it a little more noticable on the wall. After I have all the letters cut out, the fun begins! I can't wait to hang it all up in the little one's room. Of course I'll post pictures if the entire nursery once it's all set up. For now, here's some of the letters I already have cut.  Only a few more to go!

A few hints for you if you're going to try this yourself...
1- Change your X-Acto blade often.  I didn't change mine until I got to the letter M, and I so wish I had done it sooner.  
2- Try to do the harder or more curly letters first, and with a fresh blade if possible.  See that F?  I muttered a few F words to myself while trying to get around all those little furls. Especially with a dull knife and a tired hand. 
3- If the font doesn't look thick enough, make it bold, if it's still really thin, choose a different font.  The W is probably the thinnest I'd do.  I actually cut it adding a bit more to the stems, the original letter was thinner. 
4- Watch the type of cardboard you're using, some is thicker than others.  I was able to use a full box for the entire alphabet, then noticed that other boxes I had were thicker.  Some of the letters are doubled, some are just one piece depending on the cardboard thickness. 
5- Take your time!  It will be much more fun the less stressed you are, and your letters will look better.  Some days I only did two letters a day, one day I did almost ten. Have fun with it! 

Please share some pictures if you attempt an alphabet wall yourself, or even if you just spell out a name or a phrase.  I'd love to see your font and color choices!

Happy Crafting!
~The Craftmeister

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