Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas decoration - Wooden Christmas Blocks, Digital meets Old School

I made some wooden Christmas Blocks using digital graphics from Little Dreamer Designs.

For a few years I have subscribed to their monthy download of digital images that are very professional and cute! This year I took some 3" wooden blocks I had and sanded them down with my electric sander that you can get for cheap at Harbor Freight. It's the sander with the triangle shape. Mine is battery powered. It's handy but a pain when it runs out of battery power during the middle of a project and you have to stop and recharge it. (I should have got the corded version as I probably don't need to sand out in the wilderness where there is no power.)

Then I painted the edges of the blocks green with acrylic paint. You don't have to paint the whole block as only the edges will show.

Then using microsoft word I used some of the Little Dreamer Designs digital background papers and sized them to 3" in word. The I took some of the digital elements and placed them on top of the digital papers creating my little 3" blocks. For 3 blocks I created 18 squares. The Little Dreamer Designs are so cute I had a hard time narrowing it down to only 18 images. Then I printed them out on an inkjet printer on injet cardstock.

For a few of the squares I used some scrapbook paper. You can use scrapbook paper for all the squares if you would like. I even stamped a few squares with rubber stamps.

So after I had all the squares cut out, I used my favorite Colleen's Collage Pauge to glue the squares onto the blocks. You have to work quickly, especially with ink-jet printed paper. If you take too long, or paint too many strokes the ink-jet ink will bleed all over and make a mess. I use ink-jet printed images on ink-jet coated paper for decoupage all of the time without any trouble. Coat 1 side of the block with the glue and quickly place 1 paper square down and rub it with a dry finger to get any bubbles out. Then quickly coat the whole top with college pauge to cover completely. Use a real (flat 1/2" or so) paintbrush for this, not a foam brush. After coating the top of the paper once do not touch it! The paper and ink will get soggy for awhile and if you touch it again, you might lift the ink image off the paper, or it will stick to your fingers lifting off the image and ruin the image! So only do a few squares at a time so you won't have to touch the squares you've already done. Let them dry. That's why it helps to work on 3 blocks if you are impatient. You can do a few sides of each block and them let them dry and come back to them later.

After the whole square has images and the collage pauge is dry, I like to coat the whole block with varnish. The varnish dries to a hard finish while the collage pauge always seems to stay tacky and the blocks will stick together.

My favorite varnish for this type of project is Americana or Decoart DuraClear gloss varnish. It's a Polyurethane gloss varnish that is usually found near the acrylic paint section in a craft store. It's a brush on varnish that washes off the brush with water. It's sold in small bottles as small as the standard acrylic paint bottle, or in my favorite 8 oz. size which is about 7" tall.

The varnish has to dry for a few days so the blocks won't be tacky when you stack them. Look at the vintage Santa image in the middle. It's my favorite.

Don't worry if you make a mistake or the picture comes off in places. You can fix it by putting a christmas sticker over the mistake. Or you can distress the block a little with some smudges of paint. I always make mistakes and I just incorporate them into the project. If you get a bubble you can sometimes slice it carefully with a sharp craft knife blade and paint more decoupage glue over it.

Sometimes the projects with mistakes have the most character and turn out unexpectedly well. I have even decoupaged entire pieces of furniture, and the insides of drawers before, and the process is the same, and is never perfect, but some of the best projects have been the result of a goof-up.

No worries! (See my mistake below was covered up by some brown ink shading dots around the edge.)

So thanks to Little Dreamer Designs for their cute images that inspired me to create a decoration so I can look at the cute designs during the Christmas Holiday Season!

The square below on the left is some scrap book paper, the rest are from Little Dreamer Designs. See another mistake below covered with some stickers. =)

The square below in the center is some scrapbook paper, the rest are from Little Dreamer Designs.

Fun project and you can stack them differently every day during the holidays!

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