Monday, August 8, 2016

How to Make Rustic Home State Art Blocks

Do you call Oregon home? You'll love these rustic barnwood inspired blocks. This DIY project lets you recreate an aged look without all the time and water normally required to age things naturally! Plus, you'll have 5 more sides you can decorate if you'd like! I did two other sides to also spell "love" and "joy".

This project is part of a partnership with five other Oregon bloggers to bring you awesome home state projects. Check those out at the bottom!

Of course, I hope you'll feel inspired even if you don't live in Oregon! Just swap out the Oregon silhouette for a silhouette of your state OR use the heart template I provide instead. 

Ready to make this? Let's get started!


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STEP 1: Stain Blocks

Not everyone has a convenient stash of aged wood and this barnwood finish & wax from Plaid Crafts lets you get the look of aged barnwood without the time it takes for wood to develop a patina.

Note: I highly recommend wearing gloves while applying stain. The stain is nontoxic but it will discolor your skin for several days. Ask me how I figured that one out.

To use the stain, shake the bottle well and apply to one side of your unfinished wood blocks with a sponge brush, brushing in the same direction of the grain. Immediately, wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Repeat on all sides of all blocks and set aside to dry.

Once blocks are completely dry, use a new foam brush to brush wax from the barnwood finish & wax kit onto one side of one block. Immediately, wipe off the excess with a paper towel and use the side of a large craft stick to scrape the surface to remove excess wax. Repeat with all sides of the blocks. Allow to dry at least 4 hours before moving on to the next step.

STEP 2: Create Letter/Image Transfers

To get precise looking letters, the freezer paper transfer method has worked the best for me!

Option 1: Download my free printable template.
Obviously, this template has Oregon as the O in HOME. If you live in a state other than Oregon, you will also need to do a Google image search for "(state name) silhouette", download it, resize it to fit on your 2"x 2" block and also print it following the instructions below.

Option 2: Make your own printable template
If you want to make your own template with a different font, words, etc., you can make your own template. To do this, input your desired words and images into a word processing or image editing program and then flip them to be mirror image. Be sure to check the size of the letters and images to be sure they will fit on your blocks!

Once you have your downloaded or self-created template, you will need to print it out onto Freezer paper.

To do this, cut a piece of freezer paper that is 8.5 inches x 11 inches (standard printer paper size) with your scissors or a paper cutter. Insert it into your printer so that the ink will print onto the glossy size of the freezer paper and print your template.
Please note: this will only work with an inkjet style printer. This will NOT work with a laser printer.

When you take the paper out of the printer DO NOT TOUCH THE INK - it will be wet and will get all over your hands!

Without touching the ink, use your scissors to carefully cut the letters and shapes apart.

STEP 3: Transfer Letters and Images to Blocks

To transfer the images from your little freezer paper squares, pick up a square with a letter or image (again: DO NOT touch the ink!) and flip it ink side down. Place it straight down onto a block. (note: you cannot move the freezer paper once you put it down, so place carefully!). 

Press straight up and down with the pads of your fingers on the back of the paper in a blotting motion to press the ink into the wood.

To transfer the rest of the ink, keep the paper ink-down on the block and use a scraper or the side of a craft stick to rub in one smooth motion up and then down (similar to the motion used for screen printing).

Carefully remove the paper from the block and discard.

Repeat this process with each letter in your desired word.

Note: You should only be working with one side of a block at a time. Do one set of transfers (say, "home"), the painting for those transfers, and then allow the paint to dry before doing the transfers and paint for the other sides.

STEP 4: Paint

Shake the paint well and pour a small amount of Milky WhiteNew England Red and Georgian Yellow milk paint into a pallette. To make the green, pour a small amount of milky white milk paint and add 1 drop of Scottish Highlands craft paint at a time, mixing together until the desired shade of green is acquired.

Use the detailing brushes to carefully outline and then fill in the letters and shapes with paint, painting over the ink transfers. I found the flat tip brush best for letters and a combination of a fine tip and flat tip brush best for the shapes.

Note: As you paint over the ink transfer with the white paint, the paint and ink will mix together and create a grey color. This is okay!

After going through and painting the letters and shapes on all four blocks, go back and do a second coat of paint on the letters. This will help create a more desirable white look.

Allow the letters to dry to the touch (this paint dries pretty quickly) and then rotate your blocks to a clean surface and start over at step 3 with a new word (LOVE or JOY for example).

Once you are done painting, allow to blocks to dry completely - approximately 1 hour.

STEP 5: Finish

To create a distressed finish, lightly buff the paint on each surface the blocks with a fine grit sanding sponge.

Dust off your blocks and you are ready to display!


To see more home state inspired crafts from other Oregonians, check out: 

"Fresh" Farmer's Market Tote Bag
from Story Piece

from An Oregon Cottage

Pendleton Blackberry Limeade
from Pink Tumbleweed

Blackberry Parfait
from Salvage Sister & Mister

About the Author:

Carissa is a lifelong crafter and mom of two creative boys. The owner and lead writer for Creative Green Living, she is also the author of two e-books including the best-selling beverage cookbook, Infused: Recipes for Herb & Fruit Infused Water, Tea and More. You can also find her projects featured in magazines like Kids Crafts 1-2-3 and Capper's Farmer. Her goal is to empower families to make easy projects and healthier choices that are beautiful and fun!

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  1. THESE ARE SO GREAT!!! I love them. Thanks for joining the round up!!!!

  2. Carissa, these are so amazing and I love the tips you include for the letter transfer. I have yet to try out working with freezer paper and I'm looking forward to it.

  3. These are adorable, Carissa! I think my kids would love to work on a project like this with me. I love how it can be changed up for different holidays and uses.

  4. These are wonderful! Thank you for the clear steps - makes me think I could really do this. :)


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