It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Craftiness, again

Having made five identical bags, I needed some way to tell one from another. This is the problem with uniformity: tidy as it undeniably is, it’s also somewhat lacking in individuality. This, however, is a small hurdle for a creative person!

I have long admired the bright and funky initials sold in our local toy store. I do not, however, admire their price. Seven or eight dollars per letter? Please! I could make them for basically nothing! Ha. Famous last words. Five, six, ten years later, I’ve still never made a single one…

Until now!

So here’s how: cut your initial from cardboard. This was just the side of a box.

I decided I needed them a little thicker, so taped two layers together. It doesn’t have to look pretty yet: they’re going to be covered up!

I wrangled for a minute or two with the centre of the ‘D’. Getting the scissor point into the middle was awkward, and cutting it out next to impossible… and then I realized that I could just cut it in two pieces, like a stencil, and tape it back together. (Duh.)

The base coat is papier mache. Smallish strips of newspaper, like this:

Glued in place with a flour-water paste. I have no recipe for the paste. I just put a handful of flour into the bottom of a bowl, then, holding it under the tap, run a slow stream of water into the flour as I stir, stir, stir with one hand. When it looks and feels like cream, stop. (Cream like you put in your coffee, not like you put on your shortcake.)

Smear the paste on the cardboard letter and plaster the paper to it. Smear more paste on top of the paper. Put the paper in different directions for strength. Make sure to wrap it around the edges.

Let it dry overnight.

Next, I painted the letters with some glossy white latex kitchen paint I had in the basement.

Here’s where I got involved in my creating and forgot to take pictures… Oops. So the next step (which was the fun one), I took small pictures from a seed catalogue, trimmed them, and sorted them by colour. Emily, who loves yellow, got yellow. Obviously. The other colours are either the child’s stated favourite(s), or the colour their parents tend to dress them in most. (Really. People do that more than you’d realize!)

Then I used Mod Podge to glue the pictures to the initials. Each letter has at least five coats, all told. Quite possibly more.

The side view:

I got my husband to drill a hole in the upper left corner of each. Then it was just a matter of threading a ribbon through, and tying each to a bag. Ta-dah!

Love it!

September 2, 2010 - Posted by | crafts, daycare | , , , , , ,


  1. Love them! Will the kids get to keep their letters when they leave?

    Yes. The bags stay with me, the letters go with them.

    Comment by jwg | September 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. That would be a cute way to make Christmas ornaments too!

    Yes, it would! I shall try to remember that!

    Comment by June | September 10, 2010 | Reply

  3. Nice! I have also done a similar paper mache base using strips of newspaper and watered down school glue.

    I’ve heard of that — it’s less likely to go moldy, right? (Not that mine, sealed as they are inside paint, ever do.) I prefer the flour-water paste because it often feels I’ve been just a little short of money most of my life… Somehow a handful of flour on a project seems less extravagant than a half-cup of glue. It may not be the case, but it feels that way to my thrifty soul.

    Does the glue base dry a bit shiny? I suspect it would, which would be a nice effect.

    Comment by christine | September 10, 2010 | Reply

  4. Wow, this is really cool! I love the Christmas ornament idea too!

    Comment by Sarah | September 10, 2010 | Reply

  5. Fun letters!

    Oops, I’m one of those parents who tends to choose the same colors for the clothes I buy my kids. Is this bad? Blue and pink for the fair one and black and red for the olive skinned one. (Mix in gifts from grandparents and hand-me-downs and you’d be hard-pressed to notice.) How else would there be any hope for them to occasionally pick a coordinated outfit? Anybody else remember Garanimals?

    Comment by katkins | September 10, 2010 | Reply

  6. Cute! I love the idea to adapt it for Christmas ornaments, too.

    Comment by mamadragon | September 10, 2010 | Reply

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