March 14, 2012

DIY Cardboard Letters [Paper Mache Tutorial]


So this is like a Pinterest challenge, times 2! I have been in love with this whole pic for the longest time. Not just for the ombre dresser, but also the giant B- this blog ain't called from Gardners 2 Bergers for nothin' yo!
Then I saw this pin about making your own cardboard letters with cereal boxes and paper mache! Say what!!  The "B" I was envisioning was bigger than a cereal box- I stuck the idea in my brain for later and that was that. Until, dun, dun, dun (that's supposed to be climatic music) I was in the gift wrapping isle and saw the answer- 24 inch gift boxes! Word! 
Now, here's how I made my own paper mache letter.
You can use any sturdy cardboard to make the letter. I think a thin cardboard would work better, like a quality gift box or a cereal box. I don't know for certain, but I'm guessing that a regular cardboard box wouldn't work that well. It seems more porous and I think the coats or wet paper (paper mache) would warp it- but if you try it and let me know what happens!
I drew my letters using a tupperware lid and ruler as a guide. 
Then I cut it out with an Exacto Knife. 
Using the cut out letter as a stencil I traced it on the bottom half of the box and then cut that baby out.
For the sides of the B I used the sides of the original box. I used scotch tape to attach the sides to the bottom. Then created the insides of the B the same way. Next you was to add the top of your letter and tape it on the same way. I probably used a whole roll of tape to make this secure. I wasn't sure how well it should be adhered and figured, better safe than sorry.

Next step- paper mache! I used this step by step for the paper mache. Here's what I did.

YOU NEED:
flour, water, paper (preferably newspaper), and your letter

You want to make the paper mache paste- it's equal part flour and water. I used about 1c flour and 1c water to paper mache the entire letter one time. {Are you thinking to yourself now that maybe I did it more than once? Yup- 3 times!}
 
Whisk the mixture until the lumps are gone. You have the consistency of pancake batter, it's OK to add a little flour or water, which ever you need, to get the right consistency. The paste will still work even if it's a little thick or thin- if it's a little thin it may saturate the cardboard too much, if it's a little thick it may take longer to dry. See the thick/thinness in this BH&G pancake batter pic? That's about how my paste looked.

I used our old phone book for the paper {recycling?} That's the type of paper that works best. You want the paper in strips from 1-2 inches. Don't cut them, instead tear them to the right size- torn edges adhere best. 
Really liked the mixture of sizes for different parts of the B. Curved portions did best with thinner strips where the flat surfaces would go faster with larger ones.

Wet the strips in the mixture, remove the excess then apply to your form. Make sure your apply the strips in a criss-crossed manner. There was no way I could apply the paper mache and take pics- and since I do all my crafty stuff at like midnight or later no one was around to play photographer!


After the whole box is covered you're done for the day- or the night like in my case. You should wait 24 hours in between paper mache coats. If you add additional layers when the bottom isn't dry then you can get mold. Eek!


So, I did 3 coats of paper mache, over the course of 3 days. It's pretty much hard as a rock at this point. If you had an easier letter, like I or J, then I'm pretty sure 2 layers would've worked fine.
I painted it with some 59 cent spray paint- it's the same stuff I used on my Z Gallerie lamp copy and the mantel clock makeover. That can has gone the distance- seriously!
I used some gray and some brown glaze- the faux glazing stuff you tint yourself {Behr Premuim Plus Faux Glaze, from Lowe's}- and kept layering until it looked like something I found instead of something I made the other day!
You can see from the side shot that the B is really sturdy and is probably 4 inches thick. I initially imagined it on the wall- but it can pretty much go anywhere since it's so thick. So now I have a 2 foot tall- giant- B!



I found these awesome book ends thrifting- they're bronze and amazing and I painted the lampshade myself awhile back. 
Have you paper mached lately? I have another project planned for paper mache clay-I can't wait to start, it'll be A-May-Zing!! Thanks for reading!

74 comments:

  1. Thank you for the tutorial, I think I'm gonna do an "M" for my study! I just came over to thank you for pinning my fake wallpaper, but I found an amazing blog and now I'm your newest follower :)

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  2. wow! that is just amazing! I like that your letter is so thick...thanks for showing us how you did that. I also have a problem with no one else usually being around to help take photos of projects in progress when I have goop on my hands. My poor camera...I hope my husband doesn't take a close look at it...he will freak.

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  3. Wow! It's beautiful! Totally looks store bought!

    evie @ brown paper packages

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  4. This looks amazing! I can't believe you made it out of a cardboard box!

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  5. Oh so cute! I love the size of it too!

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  6. This turned out great! You can't even tell it is paper mache! Thanks for sharing! I am re-doing our master bedroom and and definetly going to try this!

    Emily

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  7. I love it!! Maybe I'll try a letter, too. Probably an L, because our last name starts with it.

    I made a flower vase with paper mache last year, if you want to see the result click here:
    http://inside9b.blogspot.com/2011/02/vasen-cloning.html

    Jule

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  8. I so love this Becca! I need to try this.

    Thanks for stopping by earlier :)

    Mandy

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  9. I love that big B! I need to make one for our mantle, but with an R.

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  10. THAT IS GREAT, I AM GOING TO PASS THIS OFF TO THE KID, HE FOUND A WORD (I'M THINKING THE WORD WOULD BE OFFENSIVE TO MOST OF OUR READERS) ON FAB.COM THAT HE WANTED, BUT IT WAS CRAZY MONEY, BUT HE NEVER BELIEVES COMPLETELY THAT MOMMA CAN HELP HIM DO THIS STUFF!! SO THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH FOR THIS MORE THAN TIMELY TUTORIAL!!

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  11. That's a lot of work! I may have to stick to ebay for this...or buy one from you.

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  12. I love this!!! I have been eyeballing the same picture on pinterest...I can't wait to make my own!

    Katherine
    harpsandollie.blogspot.com

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  13. This is so cool! I am impressed you made this. You never cease to amaze me!

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  14. Totally cool, totally doable and totally great tutorial.

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  15. Nice job Bec! When I was over, I didn't realize you made the B and everything- I thought you bought it and painted it!

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  16. Wow!! That turned out totally awesome! Kudos to you for having the patience to make it over 3 days; that's my biggest struggle when I craft, I want it done RIGHT NOW! Lol. Thanks for sharing such a fun project; hope you'll link it at tomorrow's party! Impressive as usual!

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  17. Hey Becca! Well, you're being absolutely brilliant again!!! Love, love, love this DIY! You did such an amazing job distressing it too. You are very creative and talented and I am eager to see all your projects week by week :) Have a great day!
    Heather @ settingforfour.blogspot.com

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  18. Becca, Love the large letter and the finish on it is wonderful...very creative!
    xo, Sherry

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  19. I am in love with your massive B! I am a fellow pinterest challenger, and figured I should take a minute to check out some of the others. yours caught my eye right away. There's just something about that big old B. I've been eyeing one up at Joann's for a while, but haven't sprung for it. It is so much cooler to be able to do it in the font and exact size of my choosing. I will definitely be pinning this one, and attempting it in the near future. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  20. this is a GREAT idea…I love the B!!

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  21. That is so CUTE! I love the paint job!

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  22. Great idea - I love those letters! Stop by to link up - I would love if you would!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

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  23. What a great tutorial! I love the color(s) you used at the end! It looks stunning!
    I hope you'll share this with my "Unveil Your Genius" Link Party!
    http://taylornorris.blogspot.com/2012/03/unveil-your-genius-link-party_15.html

    Happy Weekend!

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  24. Great tutorial, and your letter looks amazing - love the colour and finish you gave it !

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  25. You did a wonderful job! I need to try paper mache again. Its been a long time!
    Would love to have link this up at Sunday Round UP!
    3 blogs = 1 party
    xx
    Heather
    http://www.heatherlyloves.com/2012/03/sunday-round-up-1_8663.html

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  26. Thanks for linking up to the "Unveil Your Genius" Link party!!

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  27. Amazing!! I love the finish you put on it, and that it was made out of things that would probably just be recycled anyway!
    I would love if you would link to my new linky party- Scout's Sweet Sundays- http://xstitchandcrafts.blogspot.com/2012/03/scouts-sweet-sundays-features-and-linky.html

    Have a great day!

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  28. What a brilliant idea! My pinterest boards are going to be filled with your projects soon! :)


    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

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  29. ummmmm....WOW!!!!! I will be making this in the very near future!!! Thanks so much for the great tutorial :) I'm in complete awe, and a new follower!

    Christine @ www.firsthomelovelife.com

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  30. That looks awesome! I love it! I haven't done paper mache since my school days for a project or something. Good to know it can come in handy now for craft projects! ;)

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  31. Love the color and textured look to this!!! Thanks for sharing.

    Visiting again from,
    Sarah@
    www.dottedlinecrafts.blogspot.com

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  32. I love this! I'm pinning it right now!

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  33. uh oh! another letter I want to make! Looks great!

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  34. Wow this looks absolutely fabulous! You did a great job! Love how you completely created this from scratch! Amazing!

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  35. Awesome job! I would love foryou to link up at my Linky Party via: http://ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com/2012/03/show-me-what-you-got-linky-party-6.html


    Mrs. Delightful
    www.ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

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  36. How smart of you! Don't you love projects, like this, that start out as something common and end up gorgeous?! Way to go! Thanks for sharing on Handmade Tuesdays!

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  37. This is fabulous! I'm your newest follower :)

    Carolyn
    {my simple messterpiece}

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  38. Another project that looks like you could have bought it for a million dollars! Way to go! Thanks for linking up again. :-)

    Erin @ The Great Indoors

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  39. Thanks for linking to Handmade Tuesdays. You're being featured next week!

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  40. I love this B!! but girl, there is NO way i could have ever come up with that idea in a gazillion years. Looks great :) Found you via the Picket Fence

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  41. Great job! I love doing paper mache and this is a great project. Nice tutorial.

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  42. Great project. Using a gift box was genius. thanks for sharing.

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  43. This really did come out great! I'm pinning it. I'm a sucker for a good B. :)

    Love the new header btw.
    Karah

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  44. My last name starts with a J (as you mentioned it may be easier than a B) so it was meant to be that I try this ;) I have been reading your blog for the past 20 minutes and loveeeeeeeeeeee how creative you are, Becca! Just thought I'd letcha know!

    Happy Saturday!
    xoxo

    :)Kristi @ Lolly Jane

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  45. LOVE it!!! I'm pinning this!!

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  46. I have never tried Paper Mache..now I am going to have to try love your 2 foot tall b and your grey bedding!
    Sarah@budgetfriendlydecorating

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  47. This is a really great project! Your directions are fantastic. I am definitely pinning this so I can give it a try.
    I would love it if you would come link this up at my Pinworthy Projects Link Party.

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  48. Great tutorial. I will be featuring it tonight at my Swing into Spring party that opens at 8pm EST. Please stop by and pick up an I've Been Featured button. Thanks.

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  49. Such a cute craft!! Looks amazing and we love the color you chose! We hope you'll be back to our "Strut Your Stuff Saturday". We loved having you! -The Sisters

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  50. Awesome job! I may try this if I can make an "F" stand up and not fall over!

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  51. you did a beautiful job on this!

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  52. I know its the 55th time, but it is seriously awesome! I cant wait to try!
    Stefanie
    myblissfulhappiness.blogspot.com

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  53. Turned out great and I loved your layered painting technique!

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  54. This is GENIUS!!! You're so smart. I can't wait to make a giant D like this for us!! It's so awesome. I'm so happy you linked up with us at Mop It Up Mondays!! Thanks so much for stopping by!
    {HUGS},
    kristi

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  55. This is amazing, I can't wait to collect some cereal boxes and make letters for our home too. xx

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  56. That looks fabulous! Great tutorial!I would love for you to share this (and any other creations) at Pin It and Win It Wednesday @ www.cheapcraftymama.com!

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  57. It turned out really great!! Thanks for the tutorial, I will have to try this for our house. I also like how it looks old instead of new.

    I would love if you would share this and any other posts at Showcase Your Talent Thursday http://whatscookinglove.blogspot.com/2012/04/showcase-your-talent-thursday-4.html. I hope to see you there!

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  58. Ummmmm Seriously? That is awesome! Your pictures are great too by the way. Thank you so much for sharing at Meet Me Monday. I am subscribing to your blog right now. I don't want to miss any of your great ideas! Love, Me www.youaretalkingtoomuch.com

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  59. I LOVE it.. and i LOVE the blue color too

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  60. its beautiful and the tutorial you made just great!!! thank you :)

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  61. You are amazing. Really in awe of how you come up with all these ideas. Following you on Pinterest.

    Vidya @ Whats Ur Home Story
    www.whatsurhomestory.com

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  62. FABULOUS, of course! Featuring you today! XO, Aimee

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  63. Really turned out professional looking!! Could you use Mod Podge instead of making the paper mache paste? Just wondering. . . What do you think?

    Thanks for the great tutorial, you always make it easy to follow along!

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  64. Love this Becca! I am about to make a giant A & Z for my boys' bedroom makeover and was trying to figure out how to do it. Googled "paper mache letter DIY" and there you were :)! Thanks so much for the tutorial. I'm hoping I can find cardboard sheets that are tall enough.

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  65. This is way cool, thanks so much for sharing the tutorial on how to make them! I'd be thrilled if you'd link this up at my current link party: http://practicallyfunctional.net/2012/07/the-fun-in-functional-link-party-6/

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  66. Awesome job on that! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!
    Sherry

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  67. My daughter wants to make a letter like this to put on her wall, but wants to have holes that she can insert Christmas Lights into and it be a lit letter. So my question would be, should we punch the holes for the lights before putting the Paper on?

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  68. Great instructions! Thank you. Made a M, A and now working on a E for my granddaughter Emma. I found working on it very relaxing.

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  69. Becca, this is great!!! Did you do the glazing with a sponge? Did you apply to the whole letter or only to spots? (have not worked with glaze yet...but this looks amazing!)

    monika
    www.etsy.com/shop/madaboutmint

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