Posted on April 22 2018
Our friends had a baby boy recently and we wanted to give them a personalized gift that was a little bit different. After searching high and low for a set of alphabet blocks to make his name, we decided it might be better if to do it ourselves - and I think it came up looking great.
So, where do you get the blocks from? I sent my husband out with a mission to find the right sized blocks after I couldn't find any at the local craft store, and he came back with this. His solution? He went to the hardware store, found a 90mm x 90mm pine post and had them cut it into 90mm lengths. It worked out being super cheap doing it this way too.
Preparing the blocks
Because the blocks were straight from the timber yard they needed a bit of treatment before they were ready to use. I sanded them to get rid of the rough edges and painted them with a clear varnish to seal them (and give them a bit more shine later on).
The little one's father is keen on planes, so I wanted to have the blocks reflect that while at the same time using a color palette that would match most decor. I found a paper pack of plane-themed patterns on Etsy from azredhead which I was able to print out and cut to size (just smaller than 90mm x 90mm).
Tip: for a much nicer look, trim the corners of your paper to give it a rounded-edge. As you see in the later photos, it's a small detail but it makes a lot of difference.
For the individual letters, I bought a set of Kaisercraft medium sized letters from a local craft shop. They are 60mm tall, so they fit nicely on the blocks with a little bit of space either side. I painted them white to make them stick out from the block patterns.
Putting it all together
I used matt Mod Podge to give each side of the blocks a generous coating to make the paper stick. Once the paper was on the block, I then smoothed it down with paper towel to get rid of any air bubbles.
Once the paper was on, I gave it another coat of Mod Podge to seal it, and then glued the letters to the front.
If you want to see the video of how it was done - complete with funky music, you can watch it below.
- Before you start with the varnish or sticking the paper panels with glue, work out a good spot for them to dry without one side being flat on a surface (as it will get stuck and ruin all your hard work). I balanced mine so they were only on one edge.
- Pay attention to the direction of your patterns. Obviously it doesn't matter if you have stars or stripes or circles, but when you have planes it is a good idea not to have them flying upside down.
- In a similar vein, if you are going to have a different pattern on each side of the block, make sure you get organised before the glue is going everywhere. It can drive you slightly crazy trying to find the right piece of paper with sticky fingers!
- Have fun!