Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 38 Craft: Distressed Sled

Ah, Christmas.  The house smells like balsam (thanks to my Bath and Bodyworks plug-in), all the decorations are up…and new craft ideas call my name.  I thought I had my supply purchasing addiction under control until Michael's introduced their new email program.  A different sale every day?  How can I possibly resist?

This week's project comes from a great post by  These distressed terra-cotta pots look amazing, and the tutorial is very easy to follow.

Hope I'm giving the proper credit; I always try to link back to the original source, but sometimes that's not always easy.  Anyway…I ran across the balsa wood section at Michael's and thought I'd try these mod-podge transfers out.   Here are what my two projects turned out like:

Here's what you need:
Unfinished sleigh (found mine at Michael's on sale for $3.99)
White cutting board (Michael's again for $2.99)
Jingle Bells (Michael's one more time…what can I say…they had a great sale!)
Craft Paint
Mod Podge
Sprigs of faux greenery (I snagged a few from an existing garland)
Pinecones (snagged from a neighbor's yard)
Glue gun

1. Open a word document and type in your favorite Christmas sentiment in your favorite font.  For my project I used "Harrington" in a size 72.  Make sure you reverse the phrase before printing; I have a Mac, so I had to convert the document to a PDF and selected "preview", then "layout" and "flip horizontally".  

2. Cut our your letters.  Because mine were relatively simple (and because I wasn't placing them on a white background) I removed all the white around the lettering.  NOTE: because my letters were simple, and solid, I didn't worry about smearing.  If you have detail you wish to remain crisp DO NOT use a laser printer. 

smearing :(

3. Sand your wood.  This isn't totally necessary, but it seems like the balsa pieces are always rough.  It's also nice to knock off the sharp edges to help with the overall distressed look.  On the white cutting board you want to sand just to expose some of the raw wood.

4. Paint your wood.  I started with burnt umber on the sleds of the sleigh and then covered the whole piece in a taupe paint.  For the cutting board I used a dark green and once that dried used a very dry brush to apply some of the taupe over the green.
5. Once the paint is totally dry sand your sled (or cutting board) to give the piece a distressed look.  Think about where the most usage over time would show up (edges).  Don't worry, you will distress your lettering as well.  But, if you waited to do the sanding until after you applied your lettering the lettering would be sanded off before you got to the paint below.

6. Now it's time to modpodge your lettering in place.  Start by doing a dry run and decide where it will look best.  

Apply a layer of modpodge to the INK side of the lettering and press onto your sled (or cutting board).  Let this dry….COMPLETELY.  You will be tempted to start removing the paper layer, but if you don't wait 5-6 hours (even better to leave overnight) you will end up rubbing the ink right off.  And you will be sad.

7. Once COMPLETELY dry it's time to get the paper wet and CAREFULLY rub it off the wood.  Slow and steady wins the race here, and even then you will most likely remove some of the ink.  Lucky for you this project is all about looking distressed, so it's no problem.

8.  Time to let everything dry again!  

9. Once dry go back in with very fine sandpaper and distress the letters even more.  Expose some of the paint beneath.

10.  Now grab your favorite stain and cover your sled (or cutting board) with a thin coat.  Don't saturate the piece up like you normally would, use a small amount.  

You also don't want to leave it in place for a long time.  Like Daniel san in Karate Kid - wipe on, wipe off.  The stain further distresses the piece, softening the color of your paints, staining the raw wood, and adding overall a nice "depth" to your project.

11. Time for more drying.  This time you definitely want to wait overnight.  Ugh. 

12.  Polyurethane your project and guess what?!?!  More drying!  Don't skip this part; you want your project to last year after year.  Here's the sled ready for it's bling.

13.  Dealer's choice on this one.  I added greenery, some twine, bells and pinecones.  

14.  Time to stand back and admire your handiwork!

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