Hey folks! Did you know that these letters are made from cardboard? They aren’t actually real metal, as in…. they were not store bought. What..? You had already guessed that? How?! Hmm you might as well just stop reading right now then as I have obviously failed at this faux metal letters thing …. failed miserably!
Just kidding… Don’t leave yet!
So, you’re telling me that you don’t think these letters look even the slightest bit metallic … ? Oh. You do.. but what’s that? ..’Only if you squint your eyes and tilt your head to the side’ you say? That’s fine … I’ll take that!
WHY I DECIDED TO MAKE THESE FAUX METAL LETTERS FROM A CARDBOARD BOX?
Last month, myself and the Admin of the Grillo Designs HOME & DIY group launched our very first DIY challenge . The challenge: upcycle any sized cardboard box into something fun and creative (I even made a cool graphic to go with it!) The best project is chosen by the most votes and the winner gets a cash prize.
Our projects aren’t included in the vote…Boooo! No fun being in charge. We’re still participating though, so technically we should win a prize just for that..right?
I used my box to make large 3D letters for my dining room wall and as I’m a sucker for all things industrial I decided to make them look like galvanised metal too… as if the making of the actual letters wasn’t hard enough.
I did a semi- awkward Facebook live on my dining room makeover progress which you can watch here.… if you want.
Material used to make these faux metal letters:
Affiliate links used for your convenience – please see full disclosure here
- Cardboard box from IKEA (hey did you know that IKEA expect you to build your own sofa too??? Mine actually came packaged in a box..what is up with that?!)
- My faithful glue gun ( well almost always faithful… I couldn’t find mine when it came down to it and ended up using DAP glue – the fumes almost killed me!)
- Exacto knife and (optional)Mat and rotary cutter
- Letter templates : you can download them here
- Glue – I always use this brand
- Valspar flat light grey paint or any other acrylic type grey paint
- Rustoleum white spray paint
- Rustoleum Bronze paint
- Silver spray paint
- Art paint brush
- Turmeric powder (yes the cooking kind) or you could use cinnamon powder
- Rubb on Wax – do you know how awesome this stuff is??
How to make 3D letters:
I want to make this easy for you.. I really do (because God knows it was anything but for me) so I’m going to explain this in steps. If something doesn’t make sense. just leave me a question in the comment section below
STEP ONE: PRINT
Print off your templates.
These are A3 sized ( my printer only prints A4 sized) so I had to convince the hubby to print them off for me at his work place … It’s not the first time he’s been roped into doing things for me at work. He says his work colleagues no longer ask any questions….they just know! Haha
STEP TWO: START CUTTING
Tape each template in place to your cardboard and cut around the outlines using your knife . Placing a board underneath might be useful here so you’d don’t damage or scratch anything . I used an old magazine halfway through … It’s now in shreds and my flooring has seen better days .
Be smart. Buy a cutting board
STEP THREE: CUT 3D WALLS
Now that you have your cardboard letters cut and ready , you need to add the ‘3D aspect’. To do this, cut long pieces of cardboard from your box (width depends on how 3D looking you want them to look).
Using glue attach the ‘walls’ to the outside of the letters (doubling up with tape in corners and edges for added security).
This is a very long process. Be warned. Loads of cutting, measuring and sticking
Your letters should look similar to this at this point .. if you’ve gotten this far, give yourself a pat on the back! You sure do deserve it.
STEP FOUR : PAPER MACHE/DECOUPAGE?
The cardboard I had used was quite thick so it had a jaggedly looking outline where it had been cut. I just knew it wouldn’t look good if I painted over it as it was. That’s where the idea to paper mache comes in.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this step. Just tear bits of newspaper and stick in place with your glue. My 4 year old son helped with this part . He had fun but made lots of mess. Nothing unusual about that. He didn’t help clean up – now thats pretty usual for him.
Notice how much nicer the letter’s outline now looks?
Leave to dry overnight … or not . A few hours will do, but all that cleaning up after my son tired me out so I just chilled out on the sofa that night and went back to them in the morning.
How to get the faux metal letter look:
STEP FIVE : PAINT!
Spray paint a layer of white primer paint – leave to dry
Spray paint a layer of rustoleum bronze metallic paint – leave to dry
Spray paint a thin layer of the metallic paint. They were beginning to look real shiny at this point, which… was not what I wanted. I wanted galvanised!
GAL-VA-NIZED! Was that so difficult….really? I mean really?!
(Yeah..alright I’ll admit to having a mini panic attack at this point. You know the kind where you feel like your head will explode and your stomach is about to fly right out of your mouth… OR it could have just been the effects of the paint fumes that was making me feel like that. I’ll never know now will I?)
Using your art brush start dabbing on the light grey paint whilst the metallic paint is drying.
STEP SIX: ADD FAKE RUST
Add turmeric powder to edges and corners . Sprinkle it on and use your brush to rub it in. This needs to be done when the paint is wet . Why turmeric powder you ask?
I used the same paint brush for all of this – notice the mix of orange and grey in some areas (ahem.. totally intentional of course)
I thought the letters looked a little flat after adding the fake rust so I also added the slightest shimmer of metallic paint once again and lightly brushed on streaks of the silver rub on wax. And finally sprayed lightly again with the bronze.
Here is the ‘proud mum moment – I just gave birth to this!!’ photo I shared on Instagram
NOTE: You really need to play this whole painting part by ear. I’m also not the first person to ever think about faking the metallic look- this tutorial was helpful when I thought all was lost.
Here they are on my chalkboard wall (FYI this is my tutorial on how to to paint this a chalkboard wall)
Ok let’s just assume for an instance that you have no crafting skills what’s so ever, thought this tutorial was a little long winded, have cash to spare and would rather just buy letters that look like these .That’s totally fine today but let’s not make this a habit please, as me and my little blog would be out of business.
Kidding… again.. I think….
Oh and I repeat, don’t forget to VOTE your favourite cardboard project by clicking here … The contest ends on the 9th!
IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, THEN CHANCES ARE YOU ARE EITHER;
A: A HUGE FAN OF ALL THINGS CRAFTS – SO YOU’LL LIKE THESE POSTS
OR B: HUNG UP ON INDUSTRIAL DECOR TOO (LIKE ME) – CHECK OUT THESE POSTS!