Distressed Stenciled Sign using Contact Paper (Before and After)

The other day I decided that I wanted to stencil a quote on a sign to display in my home that would inspire confidence as my kids return back to school.  I went online and read through quite a few quotes before I came across one that was just what I was hoping to find.

The sign says 'Believe you can and you're halfway there' by Theodore Roosevelt and will rest on the board and batten ledge in my dining room.  It will be right at eye level when the family is sitting down to eat so I'm pretty sure they might actually even read it from time to time. 

Size:  4" tall x 34" long

My goal was to coordinate the sign with my gallery wall by repeating the shapes and colors. 

I first made this sign at a 'Super Saturday' craft day years ago--back in the day before vinyl and personal craft cutters.  I had to use a sharpie marker to write the words on it and was never happy with how it looked.  It hasn't hung on my wall in a very long time and was taking up precious storage space so it was time to either donate it or give it a makeover.

First I had to sand the board down to bare wood.  I stained it in dark walnut with a clean rag, painted it with SW Alabaster paint, and then sanded the edges to distress it.

I don't have pictures of the next steps, which might be for the best because things got a little ugly.  I took it to a craft night to work on and (despite my better judgement) I used regular paint to stencil the black letters instead of spray paint (which looks so clean and smooth).  This would have been fine if I'd been patient and brushed it on in several thin coats, or even if I'd used my stenciling brush, but I didn't.  The result was a whole lot of sloppy, messy lines.  I figured I'd have to go home and sand it back down and start all over again but a friend suggested that I try distressing it first. 

In the picture the sign is distressed on the left and the sloppy mess is on the right. 
(I was actually quite happy with how the pattern turned out, it was spray painted and the lines were crisp and clean.)

Sloppy Mess

Distressed and Aged
 (I was able to wipe off most of the black smudges on the white paint that you see with a damp cloth.)

I buy my contact paper at Wal-mart (it's a better quality than what you would buy at the dollar store and cuts so much cleaner) for around $5-6 for a large roll.  It's so cheap that you can afford to mess up, unlike with vinyl.  I use a Silhouette craft cutter to cut my contact paper stencils.  (Shanty 2 Chic first shared this great tip!)  The width needs to be cut to 8.5-9" wide to feed through (or the maximum width of your cutter) and doesn't require a mat.  I set the Silhouette on the vinyl setting and it works perfectly.  Once you have your stencil cut, weed out the letters and, just like vinyl, use transfer paper to place the design on the wood.

Tip:  I like to reuse my transfer paper.  I can usually use it 2 or sometimes 3 times before it loses it's stickiness.  I wrap it back on the roll in-between uses.  It saves a little money this way. 

Once you have pressed the contact paper down on the board well, spray over it with light coats of spray paint.  The paint will not dry well over top of the contact paper so be careful as you pull it off so that it doesn't mess up your board, tweezers help.  I like to take the contact paper off when the paint is still tacky.  You won't want to leave the contact paper on the wood for very long or it will leave behind a sticky residue.

In the picture below you can see how clean and smooth the blue words are because I used spray paint.  I think that it looks just like vinyl but it's less expensive and gives you a wide variety of color options.  You can also still choose a gloss or matte finish, depending on what paint you use.  Another plus, you won't ever have a letter peel off or bubble over time.

The sign didn't turn out exactly how I first imagined it would, but I think I like it even better this way.  I love the distressed vintage look and I think the flaws give it some personality.  Anyway that's my story and I'm sticking to it because I really don't want to start over. ;)

I hope that I was able to pass on a few tips that might save one or more of you some frustration.   For those of you who don't have access to a craft cutter I think that if you are using a stencil that isn't too detailed you could cut the contact paper with scissors or an x-acto knife. If you've tried this, I'm curious to know how it worked for you.

I have a little Fall craft that I made the other day that is also stenciled and am looking forward to sharing it with you soon!

My kids go back to school this week so I'm hoping to get in a little more crafting/blogging time.  Thanks for sticking with me through my random posting over the last several months and a big welcome to all of you who are new readers!

Today's Fabulous Find...
Stenciling with Contact Paper and Spray Paint

Linking up to:  I Heart Naptime  Today's Creative Blog
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Childen's Handmade Rocking Chair

Today I'm so thrilled to share with you one of my Dad's latest projects (of many).  He is recently retired and is thinking of spending some of his newly acquired time making handmade furniture to sell.  If you have a moment to offer some feedback on this project (for ex. would you buy it, how much would you pay for it, do you like the design, etc.) he would be very grateful.  
Thanks so much!

In my last post I showed you a picture of an apple tree that was 'the before'.  This is the amazing 'after'!

My Dad needed to prune the apple tree and instead of throwing away the branches, he recycled them into a beautiful rocking chair that his grandchildren will enjoy for years.  If you look closely you can see where one of the cuts was made.

I thought it would be fun to sew a reversible cushion for the rocking chair (with fabric that would work for both boys and girls) although my kids told me after it was done that the rocker is so comfy it really didn't need one.

This side has a strip of green fabric sewn into the seam in front of the piping to add some contrast.  The green fabric and ribbon was left over from last years Winter mantel.  All of the fabric was purchased at JoAnn Fabrics.

Rocking Chair Features

*Made with 100% recycled wood:
Apple Wood (pruned apple tree branches)
Oak Rockers (wood from a remodeled church)
and a
Shaped Pine Seat (from a neighbors cut tree)

*Curved Back

*Mortise and tenon joints

*Dowel fasteners

*All Wood (no nails or screws)

*Butternut Stain (Sikkens brand)

*Measures 30" tall, 17" wide, seat is 13" square

It's hard to believe that this chair was once part of an apple tree in my parents orchard.  A tree that was planted when I was a child.  My kids have loved rocking in this chair and it means so much that their Grandpa made it for them.  

Thanks for taking a moment to look at my dad's chair!

Today's Fabulous Find...
with Recycled Wood

Linking to:  Not Just a Housewife   Thrifty Decor Chick   Lil Luna
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Summer Heat and Guess the 'After'

Well Hello!  It's been awhile!  How is your summer going?  Mine has been hot, hot, hot!  We don't have central air in our home and try to get by with a small portable air conditioner, so when temps are in the upper 80's and 90's week after week, our little cooler just can't keep up with the heat. This means staying up late until it cools down outside so we can sleep and then feeling tired the next day.  It hasn't left me with much of a desire to craft.  Anyone else having the same problem?  

We took our kids to the zoo this week and when I saw this poor little sloth hanging precariously from his sling with that miserable look on his face I had to laugh because this is pretty much how I felt through most of July.  Okay maybe it wasn't that bad.  Pretty close though. :)

Moving on!

Recently my dad retired and has finally found the time to work on some fun woodworking projects.   I'm so excited to share one of them with you in my next post!    

 Any guesses on what the 'After' is???

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