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?
Click here to see what the other ADMIN and everyone else made from their boxes … And VOTE your favourite! (NOW CLOSED!)
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
CLICK HERE TO PRINT YOUR LETTER TEMPLATES
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
Obviously, if it weren’t for the fact that I had to use a cardboard box for this challenge , I most probably would have skipped these steps and bought either wooden or paper mache letters.
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.
I used command strips to attach these faux metal letters to my wall… I like to use renter friendly ideas where I can. I also like to get my deposit back when I move homes.
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
HOW TO CREATE FAUX RUST METAL LETTERS
HOW TO MAKE A WOODEN SNOWMAN FROM SPINDLES
OR B: HUNG UP ON INDUSTRIAL DECOR TOO (LIKE ME) – CHECK OUT THESE POSTS!
IKEA HACK – BILLY BOOK CASE TO INDUSTRIAL FAUX METAL SHELF
Wow! Wonderful looking!
Thank you so much for your tutorial, love this creative stuff!
Thanks for reading 🙂
You’re my new favorite human!! All comments about the amazing project aside, this post made me laugh my bum off!!!! And what a time for the world to have a laugh!! Thank you so much for sharing your time, talent, and fantabulous personality ❤
Ah this made me so happy to read. Thank you for bringing a little joy to my day!
Holy Cow Poop!! These letters are fabulous, fantastic and wonderful! Great job and you are sooo talented. Tutorial was excellent.
I like your post, These metal letters are really beautiful and attractive home decor. These are very pretty and attractable for someone. Thank you so much for sharing these good creative things with us. We will wait for the next post.
Stainless steel letters
My post did not seem to agree with the captcha? So I’ll try again. Have been wanting to make some EAT letters for my daughters kitchen which has tin sheets on the walls around 2 sides of the stove. These would be perfect. But when I tried to download the letter templates, the 3rd page with the “T” was blank. I even checked my saved download to be sure that it didn’t show up there – nope, blank page 3.
Is there anyway you can check this or supply the template for “T”? I would appreciate any help you could give me on this.
Thanks, Linda J.
Hi Linda – I will take a look and see if I can send over the T!
Have been wanting to do EAT for my daughters kitchen which has tin walls around the stove. But when I went to download the patterns page 3 – the T – was blank. Went back & started over 2-3 times, but never got the T to come up. Went to my download to be sure & it was not there. Page 1-2, the E & A were fine. Is there a way I could get the T?
Thanks for any assistance you can give me on this.
This is an awesome tutorial! Amazing job and super inspirational!! I would like to attempt this DIY but when I downloaded the template it did not include the letter “T.” Am I doing something wrong? Thank you!
The letters are great and really make an awesome addition to your home. You did an awesome job at making these look like metal! Those letters fit the space they were intended for Exactly! Thanks for inspiring me!
Thanks for sharing this informative and interesting post with us. I loved this post. These 3D letters look so amazing.
metal letters for wall
you did an awesome job at making these look like metal! Great post! This was fun learning a new paint technique. This is one that I will be using again and again.
WHY THANK YOU!
This is a beautiful and informative post. The turmeric powder really made the whole thing. I used it in my project with custom cut cardboard letters. http://www.craftcuts.com/community/how-to-paint/faux-metal-letters-diy-cardboard/
These do look amazingly like metal!! Inspired to work on my DIY blog now 🙂
Thanks so much!
What a fabulous project. I love the idea you can make any word or phrase without spending a fortune on letters.
Wow these look amazing! I would never have guessed that these started off life as cardboard boxes. Thank you for sharing them at #DreamandSparkle!
This is brilliant !! I have loads of boxes that i could use #DreamandSparkle
Thank you so much!
Hey, Medina! Just wanted to let you know that we loved your faux metal letters so much when you shared it at the #HomeMattersParty last week, we’ve FEATURED it THIS WEEK! Hope you can check it out when you get a sec. Happy Friday!!!
Thank you so much , im honoured!
Such a beautiful work Medina! I would never tell they are cardboard.
Love the paint technique. Great job!
Wow! This is really clever. I would not know from the pictures that the letters were not metal. Thanks for linking up to The Creative Exchange link party! We are featuring your project this week.
Awesome! Thanks so much!
Awesome tutorial! Thanks for linking u at The Creative Exchange this week. Holly
Thanks for having me!
These look great, and look so easy to make!? You’d never know they were cardboard! #DreamandSparkle
That’s so stunning. They look real and we really struggle to find metal letters here in South Africa. I can’t believe how easy it is. Thank you so much Medina
Thank so much Michelle 🙂
WOW, these look great! I can’t believe how real they look too (well, how “metal” they look). Thanks for sharing for the Home Matters Link Party.
Thanks so much Lindsay!
Wow! It looks like real metal! Great job and great tutorial!
I seriously loved this tutorial and what a great idea to stick those to your chalkboard wall! I couldn’t help but pin this for later. Thanks for sharing on the linky – great find!
Thanks Candace 🙂
These look soooooo good! I think I would’ve failed at this project miserably but, you are freakin’ genius! Especially with the tumeric powder. I’ll bet they look fantastic in person, hung on your wall. It’s so satisfying to make a house a home 🙂 thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks so much!
Super cool! I’ve been looking for a number 5, which has been surprisingly hard to find. I’ll have to try this. They totally look like metal. Visiting from Inspiration Monday party.
I love this project! I have been coveting those big metal letters ever since they first hit craft stores, but the price!!! I am now confident I can make them using materials and paint I already have. Thank you for sharing your tutorial and links 🙂
Aww thanks Kristine! I love your project…. yup just go for it! And dont forget to share pictures :0
Wow, it’s pretty incredible what you’ve done with an old Ikea box! Those metal letters are not cheap, and yours look soo good. This is a great project because you could make it in just about any font you wanted instead of only having the options available in the store!
Thanks so much Cindy 🙂
These look fantastic you would never think they were cardboard ! Need to make some myself.
Thanks Claire 🙂
Ok, I will admit that when I saw the post in your FB group about this challenge I was a bit skeptical. However, as usual you do amazing things once you’ve set your mind to it. These look so fantastic, I’m tempted to try this myself for my dining room 🙂
haha thanks Tony. I actually had no idea where I was going with it at the start!