Tuesday 4 October 2011

Old aged letters

I never really got the 'shabby chic' look, it all seemed such a waste of time to me. After all why would anyone want to go to all that trouble of lovingly painting furniture to then just rough it up, sand it down and make it look old again?
It just seemed so ... well....pointless!

But then during one of my 'visit as many random blogs as possible' moments I happened across the most amazing gorgeous 'shabby' 'aged' 'distressed' (whatever you wanna call it) project on an amazingly inspirational blog and I was hooked.
The project in question was a wall sign and the blog I was loving was 'eleven-o-one creations' Not just fabulous signs either, just check out the 'Furniture Portfolio' of 'eleven-o-one creations', it's Amazing.
Once I'd seen the signs that Fran had created I was determined to create my own however no matter how much I searched the net I just couldn't find a tutorial that seemed to result in the same look as Frans' creations and as I've never done these paint effects before I wasn't confident that I could pull it off without some form of guidance (I'm not patient enough to spend days practising till I figure it all out).
So I contacted Fran to ask if she knew of a decent tutorial and I was so chuffed when Fran took the time to get right back to me with a tutorial all of her own. Thank you Fran.

Although ultimately I want a couple of signs for my upstairs bathroom I decided I would learn the technique on some wooden blocks that I wanted to letter for the same bathroom. I wanted to create the word 'Relax' in wooden blocks.
One of the reasons I wanted to start there was because I have recently updated my craft stamps and have unmounted them from their wooden blocks, mounted them on UMount and filed them away in files to save on storage.
But I was left with numerous blocks like these

I knew they'd come in handy for something though and figured they'd be great for the bathroom letters.
That is some super tacky glue they use to mount the stamps to the blocks though and it took me a fair while to scrape it all off. The sanding down was a breeze however and I kinda didn't want to stop!

That's them all sanded and ready to go.
Usually I like symmetry and wouldn't go for the different sizes but I decided to be adventurous here.

Fran had told me in her tutorial the paints she would normally use but me being the most impatient person alive I couldn't wait for a paint supply to arrive and so I figured I'd try using 'Patio Paints' and see how they worked.
While I'd been researching the 'Milk Paint' that Fran mentioned I noticed on their website a series of colour layers that resulted is a finish similar to Frans so I used the 'Patio Paints' as close to those colours as I could.
The first 2 layers were 'Wrought Iron Black' followed by 1 layer of 'Cloud White' and finally 1 coat of 'Daisy cream'.
The hardest part of the project was the drying time for each layer, like I said I'm not terribly patient!
While they were drying though I opened up 'Photoshop' on the puter, created the letters I needed in a calligraphy font and printed them out onto regular paper.
Next I went back to the now dried out blocks and went at them with P80 electro coated sandpaper. This was a real fun part but be warned, you have to know when to stop! It's sooooooo easy to get carried away and then you end with something that just looks wrong!
At this stage I stopped the 'roughing up' just short of finished as I figured there'd be more to do once the letters were on, after all solid, new looking letters would look a bit naff on a weathered piece of wood.
The look I wanted was Black edges with the corners and a few other areas sanded down to the bare wood. I also like the White showing through before the Black, it gives it a more weathered look.
Next I transferred those letters to each block by tracing the letter on the reverse of the paper before laying it on the block (original side up obviously) and tracing - ok scribbling - over the top.

 wooden blocks, relax, patio paints, shabby chic, handmade

You're then left with a fine outline on the actual block which you need to go over with your choice of pen or paint.
On my first attempt I used a 'sharpie' pen. The 'Sharpie' is much easier to use than a paintbrush and the edges are much more defined

 wooden blocks, relax, patio paints, shabby chic, handmade

However 'Sharpie' has a tendency to smudge or bleed with some varnishes so if you intend to varnish the project use a paint - I learned that one the hard way and I ended up having to sand the whole lot down, front and back and start again.
Next time round I used the 'Wrought Iron Black' 'Patio Paints' and cut down an artist brush so it was small enough to use - this is not ideal though and TBH I'm not 100% pleased with the result.
Once the lettering was dry I gave it another sand down and then gave it just the 1 coat of floor varnish.

The finished result

 wooden blocks, shabby chic, handmade, patio paints

 shabby chic, wood blocks, relax, handmade, homemade

They are a bit mored weathered and aged than is showing on the photo.
I'm actually quite chuffed with them and am loving this look now. I can see many many future projects being lovingly painted just to be roughed up and sanded down to look old again. lol.

I'm dedicating this post to fran of 'eleven-o-one creations'. Thank you Fran for taking the time to help me out and for your inspirational blog.

Linked to:

'Today's Creative Blog'
'Reasons to skip the Housework'
'Ginger snap crafts'
'Nightowl Crafting'
'Lil Luna'
'Delightful Order'
'Bear rabbit bear'
'Not just a housewife'
'Happy Hour Projects'
'Miss Mustard seed - Furniture Feature Friday'
'The Shabby Nest'
'You had me at craft'
'Restore Interiors'
'sew can do'
'Delightful Order'


Geneva said...

Very interesting post! Thank you for sharing your process for achieving the "Shabby Chic" look...(which I love) Your blocks turned out very nice and look great the way you have them displayed. I'll do as you suggested and check out eleven-o-one creations. TY

Kathryn Ferguson Griffin said...

What a great idea! I'm putting this on my to do list! Thanks for posting. Found you via Bear Rabbit Bear. Toodles, Kathryn http://thededicatedhouse.blogspot.com/2011/10/chest.html

Melanie @ bear rabbit bear said...

Thanks for sharing! Thanks for linking to Things I've Done Thursday.


Lori Comeau said...

Great project. I'm a new follower from You Had Me At Craft. If you get a chance please stop by and visit me at


Unknown said...

Very craftie! Your recycled stamps blocks turned out fabulous! Really nice idea.

L.B. said...

Okay this is such a great way to use those old stamp block and well it is so nice looking as well.

karah said...

Great idea! I love the whole process!!
Karah @ thespacebetweenblog

Danni@SiloHillFarm said...

These look great! Thanks for the great directions as well. Saw you over at 1929 Charmer and I'm your newest follower!