copycraft: faux metal letters diy

I’m aware this is out of focus. Pretend it’s artistic.

I think we’ve all probably seen the whole big letter/words trend popping up in interior design. Even before this was all of over the place I’ve always gravitated toward projects that involve letters or words. I think it’s such an easy way to add personalization to your home. (Some of you from the way back when might remember my DIY cork letters that still remain lovingly in our kitchen.)

Anyway, the other day I was at the mall to pick up my computer from the Apple store (being fixed after  a certain Staffordshire Bull Terrier trampled it on my lap kicking off the z-key and mashing the trackpad… somehow I still found the whole episode “cute.” Less cute $90 later…) and since it wasn’t ready yet I obviously took that as a divine indication that I should go shopping. (Signs don’t get much clearer than that.)

While I was in Anthropologie I was browsing in the housewares section and came across these awesome industrial-looking Zinc Letters.

I was SO close to picking up a J and a C for the house but then thought to myself, I bet I could just make them from those cardboard letters at the craft store.

Apparently the ENTIRE DIY community has thought the exact same thing at one time or another because there are about a bajillion tutorials on the internet. I went with one of the first links I found, mainly because she was inspired by the very same Anthro letters! Small (crafting) world. (You can find that tutorial on The Retropolitan blog here.)

The whole thing is super fast and simple and you only need the following items:

  • Cardboard letters
  • Black craft paint
  • Silver metallic craft paint
  • Paintbrushes
That’s right! A project under $10! (I already had the paint.) And one so easy that you can do it while watching an entire episode of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix. (I obviously read that somewhere. I don’t know that from personal experience…)
So the trick as it turns out is painting the letter black first. It gives it the dark undercoat that you need for the metallic silver to really pop off. What I love about this project (aside from its complete dummy proof steps) is that you can keep applying coats of metallic paint to your desired effect. So you could even go with black letters with kind of a rough metallic edge (like this) or you can go for the more Zinc-look closer to the inspiration letters from Anthro (which is what I opted to do.) 
Not surprisingly there aren’t many in-process shots from this project, but you can see the overall effect at the end is pretty spot on.
Am I cardboard? Am I metal? Am I overpriced and from Anthropologie? YOU DON’T KNOW.
I even like that the cardboard letters are kind of ripply and imperfect because the surface picks up the silver differently and makes it kind of rustic. Don’t you love it when happy accidents like that happen?
In the original tutorial, Erika from The Retropolitan adds metal brads to give it an even more industrial look and I’m telling you those letters might as well be made from Zinc because the naked eye can’t tell the difference. 
Photo credit to The Retropolitan – check it out here! 
Of course I love the font of the Anthropologie letters better than the ones in the small selection at the craft store BUT for all the money saved I think it doesn’t really matter. I ended up using the letters as accessories on our DVD shelf, which will be getting a new background coat soon (goodbye red!) Like I said, I think they’re just a fun, personal accessory to add to any room. 
Also, after the two letters, I was on a bit of a silver kick so I also painted these wooden letters I picked up at Hobby Lobby, and I plan to include them in a gallery wall project I’m doing in my craft room. Not as crazy about the wooden texture and how it picks up the paint, or the font of the letters, but still a fun little project. 

Now get out there crafters and paint the town silver!

// Do you have an inexpensive DIY version of a fun accessory you’ve seen somewhere else? //

  • http://clumsycraftyhappy.blogspot.com/www.clinology.com cindy brown

    another great article!!! you rock and such an inspiration!!!