Today as I sat down to make some more decorated letters, I had a revelation about creativity. Something of an epiphany, only without the angelic voices and clouds parting. The gist of it was that being creative all boiled down to one thing:
You may be one of those types of people who says “I’m not creative” but believe me when I say that all you have to do is equip yourself with a few creative-type items and then give yourself permission to simply…mess around.
In our society, it’s all about the end result. You must have a goal. A purpose. A mission statement. A plan. But being creative involves very little of that. It involves letting go of the idea that something must turn out a certain way or conform to someone else’s idiom. It involves being open to the idea that your end result may be very different from what you had initially planned.
It’s a beautiful thing.
However, giving yourself permission to mess around also generally means two more things:
1. It’s going to take some time, and
2. It’s going to be messy
So if you’re ready to deal with that, you’re ready to be creative, I don’t care how craft-impared you think you are. Okay? Okay! So let’s make some purdy decorated letters, shall we?
Firstly, the supplies. You need some letters (ha! didn’t see that one coming, didja?) I have been buying my letters at my local Hobby Lobby store, and right now they have the most adorable curly-q type letters on sale, no less. I don’t think these letters will be around forever, though, because they’re only on an endcap and, well, they’re on sale, which means they’re trying to get rid of them. So I’m enjoying them while I can. They’re about ten inches tall and have hanging holes in the back.
My Hobby Lobby store also sells other thinner, smaller wooden letters (about 6 or 8 inches) in a less-adorable font style that I will be forced to use when these curly-q letters do, indeed, go bye-bye. I’m coming to grips with that.
Basically, you can use any wooden letters that you can find, as long as they have a smooth, flat surface and are relatively easy to trace around. Here’s what mine looked like all naked and cold and barren and neglected and pale and unadorned:
Do they not veritably cry out for prettification? That’s what I thought too. They say “MINE” as in “BE MINE” because there’s that holiday of pink and red approaching and I love that holiday. I’m a sap that way.
I also bought these to adorn for a friend of mine who has two boys and a woeful lack of pink in her house:
They’re the thinner, smaller sort.
Then you need to get your hands on this stuff:
Mod Podge is a glue-like substance used for decoupage-type activities. “Decoupage” is a French word which means “paper craft that was beaten nearly to death in the ’60s and ’70s”
And then, if you are a glittery, girly girl, you might want some glitter glue:
I’m not really a girly-girl, but I do love glitter for some reason. Probably because it’s sparkly. My colors today are pink and white because even though I’m not really a girly-girl, I love pink and white. Probably because they’re pretty.
Oh! And you need scrapbook paper. In this area you are free to pick any pattern you like, depending on what your letters spell out and what theme you might be making them conform to. If you are spelling the word “KILL”, for example, you might like this paper. Since my letters are all about peace and love and possessing the hearts of all who know me, mine look like this:
I must emphasize that any paper is fine as long as it makes your heart go pitty-pat. Or flappity-floppity. Or bing-tiddle-tiddle-bong. Patterned paper frequently does that to me, because I do love it so. Or maybe I have an undiagnosed heart condition. Whatever.
So gather your supplies and get set to have some fun. Turn the paper over and lay the first letter face down upon it. Trace around the letter with something very sharp and long so as to get into the nooks and crannies of the shape…a mechanical pencil works well for this. When the lead breaks, refrain from cursing. Instead, whistle a happy tune and repeat “It’s all about the journey” 16 times in your head.
My hands are really veiny.
When you are done tracing, take a pair of sissors that are, ideally, small and very sharp (aka craft sissors) and cut the shape out.
Then take a paintbrush and paint the whole (right side this time) of the letter with mod-podge. Just a thin coat. But not too thin, because mod-podge dries insanely quickly. So take your time but hurry it up, if you get my drift.
Then you simply lay the cut-out paper upon the surface and smooth it out.
And here is where I share a grievous truth:
My paper rippled again. I don’t know why. When I made the SNOW letters, I did not have this problem. Yet I have done nothing differently and the subsequent times I have done this, I got ripples. I can offer no ideas as to how to avoid them, so my advice is to embrace them. Embrace the ripples. Remind yourself that along the journey of life we will all aquire a few ripples here and there.
Some of us more than others.
SO. When the letters are done drying, you get to decide just how fancy-schmancy you want to make them. I experimented with a few ideas. Here is one that did not make the cut:
I thought it looked a little strange…like a boot. Or an elephant nose with an elephant-nose-warmer wrapped around it. Anyway, it was weird, so I tried again.
Do you see the process here, folks? It’s okay to try an idea and then discard it! That’s called messing around. So then I messed around again and came up with this:
Which I liked a lot better.
Repeat this process with all of your letters, and use whatever you can find. Buttons, silk flowers, stickers, etc. Glue these pieces down with more mod-podge, and when you are done, paint the entire surface once again with mod-podge. You can paint the surface as many times as you want until it’s as lacquered as you like, but make sure each coat dries in between. When you’ve got as many coats as you want (my decision was, uh…one coat…because I’m patient that way), you can take your glitter glue and mess around with it. I like to use it to highlight special little patterns on the paper and also to trace around the entire edge of each letter.
And here are all of the letters together:
And here are the letters I made for my pink-deficient friend:
Rawther adorable, if I must say so myself. And I must. Because when you craft, you must pat yourself on the back frequently and tell yourself that you are brilliant.
When I was done with the letters, I cleaned up my mess, laughed maniacally, and ran around the house fourteen times because I had been sitting still for four whole hours, concentrating hard, and my brain was on the brink of exploding.
This is a little-known risk you take when you craft. Just so you know. Also the fact that your house goes to pot because you are not paying any attention to the toddler coating her hands with lipstick right behind you.
Not that something like that ever happened to me. I’m just sayin’.
So there you have it. Now get busy messing around.