We really wanted to ensure our gifts were hand-crafted and heartfelt since each recipient is so dear to us.
We bounced around the idea of personalization, it appears to be the trend currently – monograms, items with names, etc. Here’s what we came up with for 2 of the wedding shower gifts.
You will need:
- Discarded cereal or cracker/snack boxes
- Cutting materials – scissors, Exacto knife
- Cutting mat
- Various tapes – blue painter’s tape and duct tape
- Computer print out of a letter (we recommend staying within the size of an 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper)
- Quick-setting cement (There’s 2 quick-setting formulas that we have used and they come in different colored bags. The red bag: http://www.quikrete.com/ProductLines/FastSettingConcreteMix.asp is a quicker setting formula. The mix tends to be creamier (when water is added) and the end product appears to be smoother. The yellow bag: http://www.quikrete.com/ProductLines/ConcreteMix.asp sets quick as well, but not as quick as the red bag. The mix is more chunky/rocky (when water is added) and the end product, when not tapped enough, can offer a more rustic look by producing a honey-comb effect.)
- Discarded container, mixing device & larger spoon (we used a plastic ice cream bucket, paint stirrer & serving spoon from a project that had gone all wrong)
- Measuring cup (Please dedicate measuring cup to craft projects. After using measuring cup, do NOT use with foods/items that will be consumed by humans or animals!!!)
- Wire (We used a 1/16″ wire that was found in one of our garages. You could use a coat hanger too. Do some snoopin’, use what you have.)
- Wire cutters (use safety glasses when cutting wire)
- Corrugated cardboard
The supply list and instructions for the Stamped Washer Embellishment can be found at our post ‘Stamped Washer Craft’:
- Print out desired letter from computer (On the computer, you may need to adjust the horizontal scale of the letter to achieve desired letter form.) Flip paper over, with a pencil color on the backside of the paper where the imprint of the letter appears. It may help to tape paper onto a window so you can see the letter shape.
- Flip paper back over (to the front) and tape onto inside (brown) side of the box. With the letter, you will be working in reverse. So when you face the bottom of the finished mold towards you, the letter will look correct. Trace over letter with a sturdy pen. When paper is lifted, you will see the letter imprinted onto box. Cut out letter.
- Trim out 1″ long strips from box. The strips will be used for the walls of the mold.
- Flip letter over so the printed side of the box will be the insides of the mold. We found that the printed side of the box is coated which slows down the process of water seeping into the cardboard mold. With duct tape, attach the 1″ strips onto the sides of the letter (make sure printed side of box will be on the inside of the mold). Be generous with the duct tape, seal all edges with it. It’s not gonna look pretty. You don’t want the cement to ooze out, so seal all areas. You have just created the mold for the cement.
- Mark 1/4″ and 1/2″ marks on a couple of the walls of the mold. This will help you monitor the amount of cement to pour into the mold.
- Grab the wire, bend it to fit the shape of the mold. Trim ends. (When pouring the concrete, you will lay the wire inside the mold. This will help bond the concrete together, making the piece more sturdy. (Korene’s husband was a concrete foreman, we had much help with this project. Thank you John. We will explain more later on)
- Mixing the quick-setting cement: We have a very odd ratio, 6 cups of Quikrete® to roughly 1 1/4 cups water filled 2 letter ‘B’s & 1 letter ‘S’. It’s very scientific, trust us (Ha! Ha!). You don’t want the mud (that’s lingo for ‘wet cement’) to be too wet or too dry. Our best explanation is it looks like oversized oatmeal (the kind you would get at a restaurant)?? Reference the photo in the slide show. Stir mixture in ice cream bucket, mixing with paint stirrer.
- Lay letter mold on corrugated cardboard – if you need to move the piece, you will have a means to pick it up and transport it. Use the larger spoon to gently ‘spoon in’ the cement. Pour enough cement to fill ONLY up to the 1/4″ mark. Lightly tap mold to get cement to fill-in all areas (shift the cardboard underneath). Gently lay in wire shape, do not push the wire shape down. Rest wire onto the cement. Continue to fill the mold with the remainder of concrete up to the 1/2″ mark (you will be pouring the remainder of the concrete on top of wire shape). Shift the cardboard underneath, this will help get out the air bubbles. We also gingerly raised up the cardboard (with letter on cardboard) and carefully dropped onto floor. Be extremely careful, you don’t want to be too rough (Don’t do this process too much). Try not to fill concrete past the 1/2″ mark – we noticed the molds started to warp and/or ‘blow out’. If edges start to bow out, back off on the concrete. Grab some boards and brace the mold if bowing starts. Allow concrete to set overnight.
- The next day, GENTLY remove cardboard (Be careful, we’ve busted many letters being too eager to rip off the cardboard). Letter may need to set out in order to fully cure. Do NOT lay in direct sunlight. This can cause the piece to dry too fast and crack. It’s best to allow the letter to dry slowly in a shaded area. Doing so will make the piece stronger.
- Decorate with jute string and washer embellishment.
Note: Hangers may be added during pouring process or after project has been fully cured. When you have poured the concrete to the 1/2″ mark, slightly insert hanger into the wet cement (you can use a mirror hanger or create your own hanger from wire). We’ve also attached hangers to the back of the piece after it has been fully cured with a cement caulk.
Another Note: You CAN use store bought paper mache letters for the mold, by trimming off one side of the letter. We wanted our craft to use repurposed materials and to create our own style of letters.