rustic wooden alphabet blocks

I really like the alphabet; thus, I really like alphabet blocks. (Kinda weird, I know.) Inspired by Amy's Fall Block project at The Happy Scraps, I made my own version to decorate my fall mantel. The worn paint look is really popular right now, but I've never tried it. I gave these blocks a rustic paint job to try out the technique.

What you'll need:

2" Wooden craft cubes
Old cloth or paper towels
Thumbtacks (optional)
Newspaper - To protect your work surface.
Acrylic paint - Your desired color and brown.
Foam brush
Plastic container you were going to recycle anyway - For mixing the paint.
Scrapbook paper in 2-3 coordinating designs/colors - I used scraps leftover from making a fall-themed card a while back.
Letter stencils - I had stencils, but you could make your own by printing letters and tracing them.
X-Acto craft knife
Mod Podge - I used the all-purpose matte variety.
Old credit card - Or something that will allow you to make sure there's no wrinkles in your Mod Podge job.

Paint the blocks.

Step 1: Lightly sand the blocks, just enough that they don't give you splinters. Wipe down the blocks with a damp cloth to remove any sawdust.

Step 2: Stick a thumbtack into one side of each block, preferably one of the end grain sides (it looks better). This gives you a semi-stable handle and props up the block while it dries.

Step 3: Paint the blocks in your desired color, letting them dry for several minutes between coats. By the time you finish a coat on each block, the first block will be ready for the next coat. It took me 2-3 coats, as the wood soaks up the paint quite a bit. Even coverage isn't absolutely necessary for a rustic finish, though. Additionally, since you'll be covering up one side with scrapbook paper, it isn't necessary to paint more than just the edges of the side with the thumbtack. (I painted this side anyway.) Let dry for several hours.

Step 4: Remove the thumbtacks. Lightly sand the blocks to remove some of the paint and reveal the wood underneath. Wipe down the blocks with a damp cloth to remove any sawdust. Replace the thumbtacks.

Step 5: Heavily water down a bit of the brown paint. I don't have an exact ratio, but it was a lot more water than paint. Paint the wash on the blocks, so the exposed wood is stained a darker brown. Quickly wipe off any excess with a damp cloth. Let dry for several hours or overnight.

Cut out the lettering.

Step 6: Take your "background" scrapbook paper, and measure and cut out a square per block that is slightly smaller than the face of the block. Since my block faces are 2" x 2", I cut the paper to be 1 7/8" x 1 7/8".

Step 7: Take your "lettering" scrapbook paper, and trace and cut out each letter. Make sure you trace the letters backwards onto the back of the paper so they are the right direction when you turn them over. Use an X-Acto knife to cut out the interior parts of the letters. My stencil set includes "shadow" stencils as well, so I made a shadow set of letters in a coordinating plain-colored card stock. I thought it provided a nice contrast between the two patterned papers.

Mod Podge the blocks.

Step 8: Remove the thumbtacks from the blocks after they have completed drying

Step 9: Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the non-fully-painted side of the block. (I painted all of the sides of my block, so I picked one of the end grain sides.)

Step 10: Place the background piece on the block. Use an edge of an old credit card to evenly press the paper to the block. Start at the center and work outward to eliminate any wrinkles. Let dry for several minutes. By the time you do this with all of your blocks, the first one should be ready for the next step.

Step 11: Repeat for the subsequent layers alternating a thin coat of Mod Podge with scrapbook lettering.

Step 12: Reinsert the thumbtacks into the blocks on the side opposite the lettering.

Step 13: Apply 2-3 thin coats of Mod Podge over the lettered front  and surrounding sides of the block. We'll come back to the side with the thumbtack later. Let dry.

Step 14: Remove the thumbtack. Apply 2-3 thin coats of Mod Podge to the remaining side of the block. Let dry.

Step 15: Admire your work!

This project was featured in Fab Features at Fine Craft Guild.

You might also like to see my other fall projects.

Do you like this project? Consider pinning it, subscribing to me, or checking out my other projects. For a complete list of all blogs I link up with, see my link party page.

I'm linking up with:
Make the Scene Monday @ Alderberry Hill | CraftOManiac Monday @ CraftOManiac | Made by you Monday @ Skip To My Lou | Time to Shine Party @ A Diamond in the Stuff | Lil' Luna Link Party @ Lil' Luna | Share It Link Party @  The Winthrop Chronicles | Time for a Party @ Fine Craft Guild | Uncommonly Yours @ Uncommon | Party Time @ The 36th Avenue | Keep Calm and Link Up @ Becoming Martha & Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home & Chase the Star | live laugh {linky} @ live. laugh. rowe. | Pretty Things Thursday @ Scissors & Spatulas & Johnny in a Dress | Flaunt It Friday @ Blissful Bucket List | Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest | Weekend Wrap Up Party @ Tatertots & Jello | Spotlight Saturday @ Classy Clutter | The Saturday 7 @ Positively Splendid | Strut Your Stuff Saturday @ Six Sisters' Stuff | Sundae Scoop Link Party @ I Heart Nap Time

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  1. Hello, new follower here! I would love to have you link up with my Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!
    I hope to see you there!
    The Chicken Chick

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I'll check it out.


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