I love cardboard!

Because I’m kind of cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend money on nice things, but recently I haven’t really had money to spend on the “nice to have” stuff, and with a wedding in 2 years and then wanting to buy a house and start a family…well, I’m learning that being thrifty and DIY projects are my friends. So I’ve discovered the versatility of cardboard in home decorating.

Remember how I made a wreath form from cardboard for this project? Pretty smart I think, and also free. I really like when things are free.

So I decided to make some decor for our new bookshelf set up, and I decided to use good old cardboard because it’s, yep you guessed it….FREE!

I remember seeing a tutorial somewhere along the way, in all of the internet trawling that I do for home decor and DIY projects, for making three-dimensional letters out of cardboard. I can’t remember exactly where I saw it, so I can’t include a link, so hopefully no one feels like I’m stealing their idea. I’d love to give credit if I could remember where in the heck I got the inspiration from!

This was a super simple project, but it was kind of tedious. I worked on it a little at a time over a couple of days because I just couldn’t make myself sit and do it all at once. You can make any letter with this technique, unfortunately mine and the Mr.’s initials have some curvature to them so it was a bit more tricky, but if you’re lucky enough to have initials with all straight lines, this project is really a cinch!

So, on to the project….first I started by printing out our initials in a font that would be easy to work with and at the largest allowable size for the page (this tutorial is for the letter S, for Steph).

(Ignore the white part, my printer was not being very co-operative.)

Next, I traced the letter twice onto cardboard and cut them out. (I recommend using an exacto knife. I used scissors and it was sort of a giant pain. I think an exacto knife would have made it much easier.)

Next, I cut out strips of cardboard about an inch and a half wide.

Be sure to cut it so that the corrugation is running horizontally. That way you can curl the cardboard back and forth to make it easy to bend it around the curves of your letter.

Then, working with small sections of cardboard, I used hot glue to attach the cardboard strip along the inside edges of one of the cardboard letters. (Using small sections will be easier to work with and that way the hot glue won’t dry before you get to it.)

Continue doing this until you have done all of the edges. The straight parts are much easier, just cut a piece to size and glue it down. No bending or tedious lining up to do!

Next I glued the second letter on top. I did this part quickly since I couldn’t really glue it down in sections, so I had to run hot glue along all of the edges and put the top piece on before it dried. Also, don’t worry if the pieces don’t line up exactly. You can trim off the uneven edges, and it will be covered anyway.

I decided to cover mine in aluminum foil since I wanted the letters to look like they were made of metal. I cut the foil into strips and lightly scrunched it so that it was crinkly and wrinkled.

Then I wrapped the strips around the letter, gluing them down as I went. The wrinkles in the foil really helped out here since the edges didn’t have to be lined up perfectly and it was easier to wrap the foil around the curves.

Here it is all wrapped up:

If I had wanted a really shiny look I would have just left them like this, but I wanted the letters to look like they were old metal. I also didn’t want them to stand out so much on the shelves. So, using black craft paint and paper towel, I “aged” them. All I did was rub the paint onto the letters. The paint stuck in all of the wrinkles, so it looked really neat, but it still wasn’t quite dark enough for me. So I used the paper towel to sort of sponge the paint on. Here it is all aged up!

I put Ryan’s R on one shelf and my S on the other. Here’s how they look!

I’m still not sure if I’m sold on the “aged” look that I ended up with. I’m going to live with them for a bit and if I’m not loving it than these babies may have a date with some spray paint.

I definitely see more projects in my future that involve cardboard!

10 Responses to “I love cardboard!”
  1. Justine says:

    wow, I’m impressed – making your own 3-D cardboard letters? Great job!

    • nwbnstr says:

      Thanks! It was really easy, just kind of tedious.

      And talking about impressed…your nursery for your little guy looks like you had a professional come in and do it! You did an amazing job at tying all of the little details together. He’s one lucky little baby :)

  2. It looks really nice!
    How big where the letters?… I am trying this DIY for some letters for my wedding, for putting them like decorations… what do you think, 12in?

    • Steph says:

      Sorry for such a late response!!

      I think the ones I made were about 12 inches tall, so that would probably work great! I’d love to see pictures if you make some, there’s a link to my e-mail on the homepage :)

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