Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I was inspired by one of my favorite Etsy stores--Sixth and Elm--that takes woodburning to new heights. Any wooden box will work and I got mine at a local craft store for $4.99.
The idea of burning all that script freehand was terrifying but once I figured out the cheating techniques it wasn't hard at all. Here's how I did it:
Print whatever script you'd like to use from your computer. I didn't go fancy but used Monotype Corsiva in 16 point font, double spaced, with wide enough margins so that the text would fit over the entire top of the box, side to side and top to bottom. At Sixth and Elm Chantelle uses the French text of the love letters of Abelard and Eloise but I chose my favorite poem, "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" by John Donne instead. Though the French thing gets bonus points for being extra romantic.
Once you have a sheet of paper with the text exactly in the size and manner that you'd like it to appear on your box you take a charcoal pencil (the softer and thicker and blacker the better) and rub charcoal on the back of the sheet on the back side of each line of text.
In the picture to the left you see what I mean about rubbing charcoal on the back.
Lay the charcoal-backed paper in place where you'd like the text to appear. This is easy for the top of the box, you just lay it over the top and tape it lightly in place on the sides, but around the sides of the box it's a bit more difficult.
With a thin ballpoint pen go over each word of text, tracing the letters and figures of the printed words. Once you've traced everything, take off the sheet of paper and you'll find that the charcoal has acted as a perfect carbon copy of the text and now your lines are written right on the box in charcoal.
The charcoal will get all over your hands and will smudge on the wood but don't worry, once you've done your woodburning you can easily remove all those smudges.
Once you've traced everything and have your words transferred to the wood you just need to take your woodburning tool and go over everything slowly and carefully. This is time-consuming and tedious and your hand will cramp up but it's not hard to make the words look pretty because all that has already been taken care of by the charcoal transfer.
See how pretty it looks? And all you need to do once you've burned the words is go over the whole box with a large pink eraser to erase all the charcoal smudges. Don't use sandpaper because that tends to just smear things more, an eraser works better, but if you have a stubborn smudge you can finish it with a bit of sandpaper as a final resort. This photo is taken after the burning and erasing and as the box was ready for the final step.
Give it that nice, antique look by applying a light stain to the wood, inside and out. Using a rag with a bit of stain on it, I applied a MinWax Golden Oak stain in one thin coat to the box and let it dry overnight.
Once dry, sand the box with a fine grit sandpaper, particularly around the edge, to give it that rustic, antiqued look. I also cut a square of felt to fit perfectly inside the box so it can be used as a jewelry box. You could also glue a little round or square mirror on the inside of the lid for an extra touch.
And if this is all just too much for your holiday schedule you might contact Chantelle at Sixth and Elm and see if she'll whip you up an order. Her Harry Potter boxes are so fun for that wizarding fan in your life.