Monday, October 19, 2015

DIY Initial Bulletin Boards

I am so excited to share with you today's DIY project! This one is both easy and inexpensive, which makes it a great project for both the expert and novice DIY'er.

School has been in session for over a month now, which means we have had a month's worth of paperwork and art projects coming home on a daily basis. I'll be the first to admit I am a bad mommy and recycle most of what comes home, but there are those special projects that I want to keep on display and I needed a special place to display them. A bulletin board for each of our children was an obvious choice for pinning up their latest masterpiece. But since I can never leave well enough alone, I decided to personalize each bulletin board with each child's first initial. I had never worked with a stencil before, and after reading this tutorial on how to make your own stencil, I decided this was the perfect time to give it a try. The final product exceeded my expectations; even when empty, it looks like art instead of a plain ol' bulletin board. And, at a total cost of less than $20 per board, there is no reason not to get started on this project right away!

1. Gather Your Supplies: For this project, you will need:
  • Bulletin board (I bought mine at Target for $10)
  • Fine tip permanent marker
  • Box cutter
  • Cutting mat (you can also use a large piece of cardboard)
  • Paint
  • Small foam roller
  • Painters Tape
2. Choose Your Pattern: For our bulletin boards, I used the "Stencil" font in Microsoft Word and printed out each of our children's first initials. I did a font size of 750 and printed it out on a single sheet of 8.5x11 inch paper. Of course, you can choose any pattern for your stencil; it doesn't have to be a letter of the alphabet. Get creative!

3. Make a Jumbo Print: Now that you have chosen your pattern, head on over to your local print shop or office supply store (I used Office Depot) and ask them to print you a jumbo size copy of your pattern. My starting image measured about 7 inches tall. I knew I wanted the final image to measure about 28 inches tall, so I asked for them to copy my image at 400%.  I brought my measuring tape with me and double checked the measurements of the final image to make sure it would fit my bulletin board.  Each print cost me about $3.00.

4. Create Your Stencil Material: Once you have your pattern printed, next you will need a large piece of plastic to create your stencil. And here is where the magic happens: ask your print shop to run their lamination machine with NOTHING INSIDE. Do not laminate your printed pattern! Just have them melt the lamination material together to create a thin piece of "plastic" that is big enough for your stencil. Now, run that piece of laminated material through the laminator again and maybe even a third time so that it is thick enough that it doesn't curl up. (Note: Most print shops and office supply stores can do this for you at a cost of about $2.00 per square foot. However, if you live near a Lakeshore Learning Center, you may want to call and check on their prices. Our local store has a self-use laminator that is only $0.39 per square foot.)

5. Trace Your Stencil: Back at home, tape your jumbo print image-side-up to the back of your laminated plastic. Using a fine-tip sharpie marker, carefully trace your pattern onto the plastic. (Quick tip: If your pattern has a lot of straight lines, use a ruler to help guide you).

6. Cut Your Stencil: Place your piece of plastic down on your cutting mat. Using a box cutter, carefully cut out your stencil.

7. Paint: Tape your stencil to your bulletin board using painter's tape. Using a foam roller, paint over the stencil making sure to get two or three even coats, then carefully remove the stencil. That's it! You're done!!

We used our miter saw and some inexpensive baseboard trim from Home Depot to also create a thicker frame for each board.

I seriously can't get over how well these bulletin boards turned out. I love Love LOVE them! No one will believe you when you tell them how easy they are to make AND that they cost less than $20 each!

Here they are loaded up with a few favorite art projects:

The possibilities for this project are endless. You can get creative with choosing a different design or use the stencil to paint directly on a wall instead of a bulletin board. I am already scheming other places in my house to add a little stencil magic. In the meantime, I'll just go back to admiring a job well done!