Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DIY $4 (plus tax) Christmas Mantel Decor

I am so excited about this little project for three main reasons:

1. It took about an hour altogether- that is my kind of project. I can start and finish without losing motivation... which may or may not be the reason our staircase still looks the same as the last time I posted about it! 
2. It only cost me $4 plus tax- doesn't get much cheaper than that for a DIY project! Keep in mind, a few of the things I used were items I already had on hand. But I also think they are things that most people have on hand- I mean most people have an entire cabinet full of paint and spray paint, right??
3. Lastly, I think it's pretty :) and that is a good enough reason to love it!

Supplies Needed:
-4 picture frames
-spray paint in a color of choice
-long piece of scrap wood or other base material 
-computer with printer 
-tea bag 
-hot glue gun

A few weekends ago, I was shopping with my wonderful mother in law. We were in TJ Maxx while the staff members were putting out all of the Christmas decorations. I honestly felt like we should've waited a little while in order to get a first peek at all the goodies. They were rolling things out by the cart- I'm sure we missed some good pieces! Anyway, sometimes when I am shopping I have a hard time buying things due to the simple fact that I feel like I can make it myself. Now, don't get me wrong, at times I can be a little over-confident. Other times, however, it works in my favor! Here is the inspiration piece for this project:

Four picture frames mounted on a piece of wood. With framed letters printed on burlap. I mean, how hard could that be to replicate?! I've already printed on burlap for a project in the past. And painting frames? Easy! 

In the end, mine looks a lot different than the inspiration piece- and I'm okay with that. That's why I'm calling it the inspiration piece. It inspired me to create my very own version. I chose not to use burlap because in the end, I was going to have to waste a lot more burlap than I was going to use. In order to have enough space to cut out each letter to fit in the frame, I would basically have to print one letter on each page. Meaning I would have to cut four 8.5x11" pieces of burlap (the size of a sheet of printer paper). That just seemed wasteful. An alternative option would be to write your own letters on burlap with a Sharpie/paint. I decided to try it on regular paper first because there wasn't much to lose. I also chose frames that were a little less detailed. The only reason for this is the limited choices at the Dollar Tree! Here are the steps I followed to create this masterpiece:

1. Go to the Dollar Tree and pick out four small frames. You could choose larger frames as well, just remember the amount of clearance space needed if you have your TV mounted above the fireplace like we do. I had planned on spraying my frames with a metallic spray paint but I found some that were already painted!!! Bonus!!! 

2. Find a piece of scrap wood or other suitable material to use as the base for the project. Cut it to the length you need. Spray paint it the desired color and let it dry while you complete the remaining steps! Side note: if you use garland on your mantel, you don't necessarily need to do this step because the garland would most likely be covering the base! Just make sure your frames are pretty :) 

3. Get on your computer. Open a Microsoft Word document and type the following letters: N-O-E-L. Are you still with me?! You could also spell anything you'd like at this stage.Type one letter per page. Center the letter in the middle of the page in order to allow room for cutting. Choose a font that you like. Choose a size that looks like it will fit in the frame you chose. Keep in mind, sometimes what is on the computer screen prints a little larger than it appears. I chose the font "Edwardian Script" and the size was 160 pt. And it only took me two tries to get the size right!  

4. Press print. 

5. Lay the awkward family photo that comes in the frame on top of your letter. I chose to hold it up to the light at this point to ensure that I was centering the letter. Once centered, trace the outline of the template onto your computer paper. 

6. After tracing each template, cut out the letters. 

**The following steps are optional. I wanted my letters to look old and have some texture. 

7. Wrinkle up each letter individually. 

8. Put a tea bag into a small pot of boiling water (just enough to cover the bag). Let it boil for 3-4 minutes. While it is boiling, lay a few paper towels onto a cookie sheet and place the letter sheets on top. 

9. Take the tea bag out of the boiling water and let it cool enough that you can handle it. 

10. Once it cools, use the tea bag to "paint" the sheets of paper. I tried to avoid dragging it across the letters just in case the ink decided to bleed. I used more of a "blotting" method. 

11. Let the tea sit for a few minutes on the paper and then blot off the excess with a paper towel. I tried to get mine looking a little uneven- it gives it some character! 

12. Try to be patient while the sheets of paper dry. I put mine on a drying rack- like you use for baking- and it seemed to really speed up the process!

13. Go get the base that you spray painted along with your hot glue gun. 

14. Put the letter sheets in the frames once they are dry!

15. Hot glue the frames to your base. At this point you can be creative. You can overlap them, you can vary the heights of the frames (see inspiration photo). I chose to keep mine all in a line. 

                       (Top view) 

What do you think?? So easy and so cheap!!!! Not to mention that the possibilities are endless! 

I can't wait to put it on the mantel with the rest of our Christmas decor! I think it will look great with our burlap stockings :)

Update- here it is along with some of our other Christmas decorations:

(Just ignore that white cord to the left... it will be disappearing soon!)


1 comment:

Sharon Crane said...

Oh my gosh honey; this turned out beautiful. I'm going to need you to come decorate my I house for Chtistmas!