Monday, February 17, 2014

Make // DIY Handwriting Chart… For Under $20!

Last year I bought an awesome penmanship print when my then first grader was learning to write in cursive. I thought it'd be a good tool for him and it doesn't hurt that it's on-trend too. And the amazing thing? It only put me out $4! But it gets better….

So I never got around to hanging it up.  At first I was going to frame it, but that just seemed too formal and was more than I wanted to spend. Then I saw several diy botanical charts that were hung in a clean and simple fashion and I was smitten.

So what IS the best part about this project? It cost me less than $20. Total. Actually, it really just cost me $7 since I already had the stain, miter and twine from previous projects. And it took me just a few minutes to assemble. Seriously, for DIY, it doesn't get much better than that!

Here's the cost breakdown...
artwork - $4
wood - $3
stain - $2
craft miter box - $7 (with 50% off coupon)
twine - $3

Click "Read more" for all the details!

How to Make Your Own Large-Scale Wall Art for Under $20

Penmanship 20"x28" print via paper source; many other styles available
balsa wood strip -  1"x 1/4" x 36", purchased at Joanns
walnut stain - I used Folk Art's water based stain
craft miter box
tape - I used artist tape, permanent tape will also work (scotch, masking, etc.)
twine - similar here
high temp hot glue gun (optional)


Choose a Print-

The print I chose is actually a 20"x28" piece of wrapping paper from Paper Source. The paper is thick and is good quality. If Penmanship is not your style, there are many other awesome prints in their gift wrap line-- everything from maps to flowers to vintage postcards. Many of the prints measure 20"x28", but there are several with other dimensions.

Measure and Cut Wood-

My print measured 20" at the top edge. I wanted the wood piece to be a little longer than the print, so I measured and marked it at 22", which leaves an extra inch on each side of the print.

I used a craft miter box and saw to get a perfect 90 degree cut. For thicker wood (i.e. plywood) this would take a little arm muscle, but the balsa wood was very easy to cut.

Stain or Paint Wood-

I used a water based stain in walnut. It does not smell and is easy to wash off your fingers. I applied the stain with a cheap sponge brush. The balsa wood absorbs the stain very well.

You can also use acrylic paint, I used the stain since I had it on-hand and like the color.

Attach Print-

At first I was going to glue the print to the wood, but I decided to keep it versatile so that I can change out the print at a later time. I used artist's tape because it is tacky enough to hold the print to the wood, but not so tacky that it would damage the print once removed.

This is also the reason why I chose balsa wood since it is very light weight and tape can easily hold the print to the wood. However, if you don't plan on changing out the print at a later time, use a permanent tape (scotch, masking, etc.) or glue.

Attach Hanger-

I decided to use hot glue to attach the twine hanger to the wood frame. I made a simple knot in the twine, and pushed it down into a dollop of hot glue. I then added another dollop of hot glue on top of the knot to seal it down.

Since the frame is so lightweight, you can also use strong tape to adhere the hanger.

Note: If your wood is thick enough, you can also use two tacks to attach the hanger. I tried it out on a spare piece of wood. My balsa wood piece at 1/4" thick was too thin and the tack poked through.

DIY Penmanship Chart

It took me about 15 minutes to put this together. Okay, 45 minutes total since I had to wait for the stain to dry. But for a DIY project this is pretty darn quick.

I love the outcome. A clean look with a cool vintage vibe. And all for under 20 bucks. Perfect!

For those of you in the U.S., Happy President's Day! I hope you're able to enjoy the day off. We've been on the baseball fields all weekend. It's been incredibly warm (85 degrees!) and although it's fun to watch 7-year olds play ball… four games in three days is tiring! I'm going to need a few extra days to recuperate.  :) Happy Monday!