Crafting Decor Tutorial

DIY Decor: Easy Wood Plaques

June 15, 2016

Every now and then I just decide I need something. Last time it was a dream catcher for each bedroom; this time it’s a little wooden plaque to hang in my daughter’s room. Here’s the thing, I’m big on precision and I don’t like my handwriting! I can easily whip something up on my computer, but once I print it, how do I get it onto the wood? Want to know?

This simple transfer method can be used on any soft wood (pretty much any craft wood you can buy in a craft or hobby shop). You don’t need any real art skills per se, but it will be helpful for you to have a relatively steady hand.

diy decor old fashioned modern livingLet’s go back to the beginning. I love wood slices, and I’ve been seeing them again and again in Joann Fabric and wondering what I can do with them. I finally bought one, just a little ornament size, about 3″ in either direction, with a hole drilled so it can hang. After a few weeks, it struck me – I could use it to make an ornament for Little Miss’ bedroom!

I’ve always had a fondness for the line from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “and though she be but little, she is fierce.” In the play, it’s a warning…one character tells another that the third will not hurt her, to which she responds, basically, she’s tough when she’s angry, and don’t underestimate her due to her size.

Being rather short of stature myself, I’ve always liked this quote. Being underestimated for your size is no fun. Plus, one of my favorite fiction series (The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, FYI) utilizes the quote in regard to a particularly tough female character. Now enter Little Miss – nearly two, a little big for her age but still quite small in the scheme of things, and sweet and smart and tough! Yes, she’s little, but she’s fierce!

So now, I have a wood slice and I have a quote. But as I mentioned, if I just freehand this, I’m 150% guaranteed to hate it. I don’t feel like doing a messy and labor intensive gel medium transfer…I just need to get what I print out of my computer onto the wood. Ready to see how I did it?

You’ll need:

  • A sharp pointed ballpoint pen (I’m a big fan of the Pentel RSVP fine point pen)
  • A fine point marker that will not bleed (I’ll argue that a Micron size 01 is best all day, every day)
  • Your wood slice
  • A ruler
  • Computer/printer/printer paper
  • Scotch tape

Get started!

  1. Measure the usable area on your wood slice, meaning account for edges, dark areas around the outside and any drilled holes. If there’s a string, remove it so it sits flat.
  2. Design your own, or print out an image you want to use in the appropriate size. I realize this is easy for me since I’m a graphic artist, but even MS Paint has text and re-sizing capabilities. You can also use a picture from a magazine, or simply draw your image on another sheet of practice paper and then transfer. Trim down your image to the right size and tape it where you want it.
  3. Take your fine point ballpoint pen and carefully trace your text or image, putting a little more pressure than usual. If your letters are thin, just do it once, however if there are thicker parts, like in my script words, outline the thick areas.
  4. Remove the tape and paper, and you should be able to see a fine inprint in the wood. Take your fine point marker and carefully trace, coloring in any thicker areas you want solid.
  5. Decorate in any way you wish, add color with colored pencils or fine point markers (test markers on the back to make sure they don’t bleed!) or leave it as is, then replace the string.

This same trick can be used on any size, from little ornaments like this to larger wall plaque size wood slices which you add a hanger to once you’re done. You can also buy craft wood shapes loose, or packs of thin rectangles to make into signs or other decor.

I think mine came pretty decent, with the exception of the s in “is” getting a little wonky, but I’ll just need to ignore that. It’s not super easy to write carefully with a toddler trying to climb on you. I haven’t decided yet if I want to draw some sort of decorative border or just leave it plain.

There are so many possibilities here! Think about the gifts you can make – imagine a set of wood coasters (sealed with a top coat, of course) with a cute hand drawn motif or a customized decorative plaque. I’m thinking there may be more of these around here in the future.

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  • Reply Judi Dembowski January 5, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    Wonderful idea. I try to make new ornaments for the Christmas tree each year. I make several so I can give them to Friends between Thanksgiving and Christmas to add to their trees. (I really like receiving one in return for my tree.)
    Just guess what I’m going to do this year!!
    Sayings are abundant. “A child is born.”, etc. Anything from THE Christmas story or The Night before Christmas or some moment you shared with a Friend during the year, a new baby’s name and birth date……oh my goodness, you really came up with a great one.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Ilana January 6, 2019 at 12:00 am

      I love that idea! I want to learn to handletter so I can do these freehand. For now though, sticking to transfers!

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