I’ve had a very hectic couple of weeks at work but I’m finally back! I’m so excited to have some time to share with you about a present that I made for Matt’s mom!
Last year I discovered this sign on The Lettered Cottage -
Isn’t it precious?? I immediately pinned it to my secret Gift Ideas board on Pinterest.
Matt’s parents bought a beach house this year and Matt’s mom has worked SO hard decorating and making it feel like home; it’s amazing how quickly and beautifully she’s brought everything together. When I was brainstorming with Matt last fall about Christmas presents, I mentioned this sign as an idea for his mom and he agreed that she would like it! Game on!
The first step was to figure out what wood I was going to use. Now, I may have mentioned it before, but I have no woodworking skills. I want to learn to build things and I even made an “Easy Builds” Pinterest board to keep track of projects that seem simple enough even for me to build. Anyway, I wanted to keep this as simple as possible so I decided to use shims. I’d pinned a few other ideas that used shims and I had already bought some from Lowe’s. They were less than $5 for 42 of them!
If you’ve ever seen shims, they’re thin on one side and thick on the other. You can see the difference in thickness more clearly in this picture from Shanty 2 Chic (one of the ones I’ve pinned to try later) -
The first thing that I did was to take two shims and glue them (with wood glue) thick side to thin side in order to create sets of shims that were the same thickness across. I used 30 shims to make 15 “planks” for the sign. Once the shims had dried, I stained them with some dark stain that I had on hand. I did this so that after I painted them, I could sand them down a little bit to let the dark wood show through. Some wood glue had oozed out when I attached each set and the stain couldn’t seep through in those areas, but since this wasn’t the final product I didn’t worry about it.
Here’s what the shims looked like at this step -
Next, I painted the shims with two coats of blue paint. The blue that I used was extra left over from our downstairs bedroom. [I'll add the name of this color when I can look it up, but it's a blue-ish sea foamy blue.] After the second coat was dried and all of the wood was covered, I used a glaze to distress the shims. I used a paper towel to apply this Valspar Antiquing Glaze -
Using glaze is so much fun! It’s so easy to apply and whenever I feel like I’ve “messed up,” I can just get a wet paper towel and wipe the glaze off until it’s back to how it should be. The only other thing that I did with the boards at this point was to chip the paint a little bit in a few spots with my fingernail; the stain left the surface a little bit oily so the paint was easy to chip up in a few spots.
Once the shims were painted and distressed, the next thing to think about was the lettering. Because I love the variety of fonts that they have, I used PicMonkey to create the lettering.* I used the font “Luckiest Guy” because it most closely resembles my own handwriting. Once I got the formatting done, I printed it a few times before I got the letters to the right size; I made sure that each word was almost as tall as the width of the shim.
To transfer the words onto the boards, I used this tutorial from Homespun Happenings. Cut each line (in this case, each word) out as a separate strip; flip the paper over and shade the reverse side of your words with a pencil (I just grab whatever wooden pencil I can find lying around), and then tape the strip of paper down so it won’t move. Then trace over the letters, pressing firmly; when you lift off the strip of paper you’ll be left with a penciled outline of your words! Once I had the pencil outline, I filled it in with a white Sharpie pen. Easy, huh? I’ve used this on another project as well and I think it works great!
When the lettering was all done, I laid out the boards to get an idea of spacing. I decided to just have one board above the first “Twinkle” and but to have 5 boards below “Little” where the starfish would go. I flipped those 9 boards over and laid them on a flat surface. I took four more sets of shims and laid them perpendicular and used wood glue to attach them to the 9 sign boards as support. I did put some weights on the boards while the glue dried because I wanted this to be very sturdy. When the glue had dried I added hangers and realized how glad I was that the front looked better than the back! Yikes!
One of my favorite things about this was that I got to embrace the imperfection – the things that aren’t perfect are what makes it beautiful! The letters are a little messy, the shims don’t line up just right, and in all that imperfection it was just what I was hoping for!
What do you think? Have you all ever made anything with shims?
* If you want to create a PicMonkey picture with just lettering like mine, first select “Create a Collage” from their homepage and save the blank collage to your computer. Then open that blank collage and you’ll be able to edit it by adding text.
I’m linking up with: Ginger Snap Crafts, Homemade Ginger, Home Stories A to Z, Glued to My Crafts, Domestically Speaking, DIY Show Off, Thirty Handmade Days, Practically Functional, 36th Avenue, Remodelaholic, Link Party Palooza, The Girl Creative, The Mega Inspiration Party, DIY Show Off, By Stephanie Lynn, Carrie This Home, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Inspiration Exchange, Lamberts Lately, It’s Overflowing, and Your Home Based Mom.