Friday, January 24, 2014

DIY Letterpress Blocks

DIY Letterpress blocks

If you've been following for awhile you probably saw this one coming when I built my shelf designed to look like a letterpress tray.  I mean how could I not.  I love the look of old letterpress printer blocks.  They are so graphic and full of character.  Weird I just realized I have never come across any in all my salvage & thrifting travels.  I wanted to make some and they were so easy to do.  Here's how I did it.

My plan for this project was to buy a few pre-made letters then make some of my own.  I was going to print out some letters on the computer, transfer them onto 1/4" plywood, then cut them out with my jig saw. I ended up only having to make the big M.  M's are pretty easy so I didn't have to print it out I just drew it.  Another idea would be to use balsa wood.  You can find that at any craft store and can cut it with a razor knife.  When I went shopping for supplies I stumbled onto some clearance faux letterpress blocks at Joanns.  They were $2 but only a random selection was left.  I didn't want all of them to be the same size anyways so I just grabbed two, a D and Z.  I didn't really like the wood letters that Joann's has, they were too frilly and not the right size so I left with just the clearance blocks.  Next stop Hobby Lobby.  They had the perfect letters for this project because they were thin, simple block letters and were a little bigger than the blocks I had already found.


I picked up an E,8,X & an O.  I also found the ampersand there which I ended up spray painting Heirloom White.   Since I wanted a few different sized letters I looked through my craft stash and found the large address number 0 and the green wood M.  

The first thing I did was rummage through my pine wood scraps and cut some blocks to the size of my letters with my chop saw.  Next I hot glued the letters to the blocks.  Then I painted the base using black craft paint.  You could also stain them if you prefer but since my shelf is wood color I wanted the contrast.

Next I dry brushed the paint onto the letters then rubbed it off with a paper towel.

For the green M and the black address number I spray painted them off white first then dry brushed with the black paint.

The Letters from Hobby Lobby were beveled on the front so I decided to flip them over so they would have a more square edge.  This is perfect because the thing about letterpress blocks is that they are the mirror image of the letter, like a stamp.  It just so happens that all the letters I chose can be flipped around so they look normal but if you wanted them to look more authentic make sure to flip them over before you glue them on.

DIY Letterpress blocks

Since it's Valentines I decided to line the back of a few of the shelf's cubbies with some scrap book paper.  The script paper reminds me of love letters and the red polka dot gives me a touch of red.  It has a vintage feel to it that I love.  I used double stick tape on the back to hold it in place. 

DIY Letterpress blocks

The paper flowers I picked up at Poppy & Co where I consign my pieces.  Alison of the Modern Cottage Company makes them.  I think they're so pretty.  Have I mentioned how much I love that place? I love selling my pieces there. 

I decided to just paint the X,O and & instead of making them into blocks to change it up.  E & M are me and my hubby's initials.
  Of course I threw in a wedding picture for Valentines.  It's one of my favorites.  After we said I do and kissed my friend was supposed to start the exit music for us to walk out to but she couldn't remember how.  (In her defense it was a very fancy sound system) So after everyone was looking at us for an uncomfortable amount of time we decided to just walk off.  Half way down the aisle she figured it out and the music kicked in at an extremely high volume.  Everyone laughed including us and that's when the photographer took this shot.  It always makes me smile when I see this photo.   Now I'm feeling all mushy.  I love Love.

DIY Letterpress blocks

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Pam Jackson said...

What a cool idea. I use to print on a press in high school where we used block printing. That was FOREVER ago....

Katie @ Creatively Living said...

Those are awesome! I really love those book ends too!

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

So many ideas on one display shelf. The letter look just right. Pinned.

Full Circle Creations said...

Everything looks great. I use to make these too back when I first started my business. They make really great fill ins for displays. I love the way yours turned out. And the story of the wedding picture is priceless. Thanks for sharing.

Gail Wilson said...

Love it all Mimi!! the shelf, the letterpress blocks.... everything! What a fabulous display!



Keith@ Vintage Crab Jewelry said...

Love the letter blocks. They look authentic!

Audrey said...

I love letters and numbers ... especially numbers and you did such a great job with these.
Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

Bliss said...

Excellent. Pinning.

Jill said...

Love this, and love your letter tray!

Candace @ Vintage News Junkie said...

These are the most coolest, awesomest, neato-burrito things I have seen in a looong time!! Definately pinning these and I have full intentions of using these as inspiration to make my own!! I will for sure share when I do!! P.S. Congrats on 3 years!! :)

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