04 July 2013

Scrabble-Inspired Wall Art - a tutorial!

So I am a huge Scrabble fan. Like huge. Andrew won't play with me anymore, so I'm pretty much up a creek as far as actual game-play. I figured it would be a fantastic form of "nobody wants to play with me" punishment to put a big Scrabble board on our wall! 

I started searching around for some kind of inspiration about three years ago and came up empty. I wasn't really in the mood for creating something sight-unseen and we were still looking for our forever home, so I put it on hold. Who wants to hang a million little tiles on the wall if you're going to do it again in 6 months? Uh, nobody. 

So this spring I started looking again. I found ONE tutorial online throughout the entire internet. Bananas. Do people really not want Scrabble art?!?! This tutorial was good, but there were a few things that we needed to change in the execution. 

If you look at a Scrabble tile closely, the letters do not take up the entire tile, nor is the tile square. We were actually attempting to make the tiles square at first, and with a twist of "that's not what I thought I bought" fate, we lucked out and had the perfect size. 

I'm not posting a lot of pictures for this because it's REALLY SIMPLE.  

What you'll need: 

A saw (or a nice man at Lowes to do some cutting for you. Our Lowes does cuts for $.25 per cut, first cut free. Not bad if you're not a saw-owning individual.) 
Mod Podge
A paintbrush
2 inch vinyl letters
1/2 inch vinyl numbers 
Itty bitty hangers (I found mine in the clock-making section of Hobby Lobby)
One pan of brownies (Two if you have more than four names in your family)

Here's how it goes: 

1) Arrange your letters. This is the most difficult part. We did it in Excel so that we could arrange and re-arrange easily. After it was totally done, we took a screen shot and saved it to our desktop, as we knew we'd be referencing it many times before the art was up on the wall. You can see we made a final tweak in the arrangement when we started hanging it. It turned out that making the words branch out a little more made it look a little more natural and easy on the eyes. 

2) Pick out your wood. A 1X4 is your best bet. Nice and light. Andrew went to Lowes to find the perfect piece and he came home with a gorgeous piece of poplar. It was an expensive piece of wood, but when you consider how large the entire thing will be on your wall, $16 for wood is decent. One of the things I wanted to change about the tutorial above was that I didn't want to be whitewashing or painting anything. Scrabble pieces aren't whitewashed, so I wanted something that was the right shade right off the bat. We have a big family, so whitewashing that much wood sounded like a nightmare, anyway. The poplar was the perfect color AND the wood itself was a lot more forgiving with the saw, so there was no splintering. I made a second set for someone later and made the mistake of using a white pine. The poplar was much softer, and I think that helped a lot.

3) Measure and cut your wood. We thought we were doing a 4 inch by 4 inch cut, and when Andrew was done cutting I pretty much died a million deaths because his 4 inch cuts didn't come out to a square piece of wood. Huh?! It turns out that Andrew bought a 1 x 3.5. It ALSO turns out that a Scrabble tile is not square. Happy twist of fate. 

4) Stick on the stickers. Easy peasy. Pull your Scrabble game out of the hall closet to reference the numbers that should be on each tile. Be aware that most of the letters are worth one point and most packets of vinyl letters/numbers don't have very many 1's. You may end up with several packets of 1/2 inch numbers/letters left over, but seriously? Who cares?! It looks amazing. 

5) Mod podge! I just did the face of each tile. Don't be a hero! 

6) Convince your husband to screw on a million itty bitty hangers. This is actually easier than it looks, unless he has severe carpal tunnel. Start mixing up brownies now. 

7) Convince your husband to hang the tiles. You're going to want to have a pan of brownies handy to calm his nerves once he finishes. He says, "Space them half an inch apart." He did it using a straight edge and a pencil and then went back and erased the line when they were all hung. Maybe two pans of brownies. It was harrowing. But worth the effort! 

I need to go fix my "D." What IS that?! Crookedy crookedy!

These are just an example of how big this is. Our living/dining room area is pretty big and this piece worked really well on our "big empty wall." We needed something that would be a good focal piece that sort of make a bang when you walked around the corner, and our Scrabble art really does the trick! 

Okay, friends. Go make something awesome! 

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