When I did my Homemade Wood Stain project, I was thinking about those house numbers. I had seen Pinterest projects using reclaimed wood as a base for pre-made metal house numbers. I decided to take the DIY a step further and save some money in the process.
The longer title of this post should be "DIY House Numbers with Homemade Wood Stain and Packing Tape Image Transfers." (Say that 20 times fast!) Several years ago, I saw a craft show on PBS describing the technique of using packing tape to transfer a printed image. Well, this craft novice was flabbergasted. I couldn't quite remember how it worked, so I found this great tutorial to refresh my memory. It gives really helpful step-by-step directions, so I encourage you to check it out if you want more thorough directions on the process:
The steps to make my DIY House Numbers:
1. Glue the stained wood slats together using wood glue, and glue two support slats onto the back. (If you don't have wood slats, you can use one thin, solid piece of wood in the size you prefer. Use your creativity!)
|First I arranged the slats to get an idea of how many I would use.|
|Spread wood glue between the slats. It only takes a light layer of glue; I spread it with my finger.|
|I put two slats on the back to add more support. I just pushed down for several seconds for the glue to take hold.|
And once again, my glue-sniffing cat couldn't help herself.
|I wouldn't let her on the floor near my project, so she hoped the fumes drifted upward.|
In order for the image transfer to work, the ink must be printed on a laser printer, not an ink jet. The paper will be getting very wet, and the ink from an ink jet will run. We do not have a laser printer, so I printed on our ink jet and then took my numbers to a copy shop to copy them. I couldn't decide on the color of numbers to use so I printed all three--a dark red, a light tan, and black.
|Printed on my ink jet then photocopied on a laser copier.|
The ink from the image will transfer to the tape, leaving you a number with no white on the back.
|Tape, soak, gently rub. That's all there is to it!|
|When overlapping tape, it works best to rub the first piece, removing all air bubbles, then place the second piece.|
|I used the back of my scissors to rub the tape firmly onto the paper.|
|Cut the excess paper off first, then soak.|
The tape retains some of its stickiness after the paper is wiped off, which is both good and bad. It's good because it will stick to the wood enough to help with positioning. It's bad because if you try to dry the number with a paper towel or cloth towel, it will pick up all the fluff and lint and you will have to soak it again. The best bet is to place the numbers non-sticky side down on a towel and let it air dry. You can shake the excess water off, but don't wipe the back.
I have both gloss and matte Mod Podge on hand; I decided to use gloss finish (Mod Podge CS11202 Original 16-Ounce Glue, Gloss Finish) for this project since the tape retained its shine. I used a sponge brush to apply it. Put a little Mod Podge on the back of the number and affix it to the wood (the tape stickiness will also help hold it down). Then spread a layer over the number and wood, in long, even strokes.
|One coat of Mod Podge.|
|Two coats of Mod Podge.|
I initially was going to use thin rope or jute cord to link the numbers together, but we have been having days of 60+ mph winds, so I decided to use thin wooden dowel rods for more support.
|Two small dowel rods that I later dyed to match the blocks.|
|Left- Gluing the dowels, using extra wood slats to keep the squares straight; Top Right- Glue the jute cord onto the top square; Bottom Right- Wrap the jute cord evenly down the dowels.|
|You can see the wraps of jute cord between each square. I tied it in a bow on the bottom.|
6. Enjoy your new, easy-to-see house numbers!
Things I learned on this project:
- Lighter colors (like the light tan I printed) do not transfer to the tape as well. Go with darker colors for better visibility. My light tan looked practically clear after rubbing the paper off.
- When overlapping tape, place one piece at a time, rubbing the air bubbles out completely before placing the second piece. The seams from the overlapping aren't too noticeable, but be sure to rub the tape down along the lines.
- Cut the excess paper off before soaking to save some work.
- Don't dry the back of the tape with paper towels! Shake them off and let them air dry, non-sticky side down.
- Give wood glue plenty of time to dry.
- Cut dowel rods before gluing them to your project.
This total project cost me less than $5.00-- this includes the cost of the steel wool to make the original wood stain, the photocopies, the dowel rods, and the jute cord. The rest of the supplies I had on hand--the wood, Mod Podge, packing tape, wood glue, and sponge brush. I compared the cost of this project with what it would have cost to buy new house numbers. The new house numbers I saw in the store range in price from $0.99 to $8.00 each, from cheap plastic to lovely brass. Apart from buying the plastic numbers, I saved money and made something pretty in the process! And people can find our house now.
|"Oh man, I love me some glue fumes."|