I love typography “written” in thread or string. There’s something about the texture and depth of it that’s very appealing. Spring is undoubtedly baby shower season, and this technique struck me as the perfect idea for a newborn’s room. Customizing according to the colors of the baby’s room is so easy when working with a wood board and adding painted stripes.
Obviously there are a billion possible variations and applications of this basic idea. Go wild. I can’t wait to make one for my husband and me - some funky retro colors underneath our last name aligned vertically (post upcoming). In the meantime, here’s the steps for the newborn-specific incarnation.
- A wooden board
- Small-ish paint brush and/or foam brush
- Assorted paint colors (I used 5 painter’s acrylics to create my colors)
- Yarn and/or string
- Brass escutcheon pins (I used 3/4” size)
- Sandpaper (if your board already has a smooth finish that must be roughed)
- Painter or artist tape
- Ruler and tape measure
- Pencil and eraser
- Scissors and Xacto Knife
- Super glue or Gorilla glue
Costs = <$34 (a little high, but only due to paint - which you may have lying around):
- A wooden board = <$5 from building supply store like Home Depot
- Assorted paint colors = $3.19 each (x 5 = $15.95)
- Yarn and/or string = $5.80
- Escutcheon pins = $1.49 for a pack of 18
- Sandpaper = $1.47
- Painter or artist tape = $3.99
- Everything else = free or already available around the house
Want to see how easy it is? Click to keep reading.
- First, my inspiration: I was strolling the top floor of Liberty (uber-quirky upscale department store) in London and saw random letters on the wall done like this:
- My notion that typography made with thread is completely awesome was further cemented by blog posts I came across in subsequent weeks, such as Colossal’s posts on Martin Pyper and Iwona Pryzybla. Seemed like a must try (even on my rudimentary level).
- Step 1: a wood surface to work with. Lucky me, I got a bunch of free (and good-lookin’) cast-off wood boards from a friend, Josh Aronson, who makes gorgeous furniture at his studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Thanks Josh and Monika for being so awesome and carting me and these extra boards home, you guys are the coolest.
- Measure your board, marking the middle with a pencil. Based on that line, you can plan where you are going to situate your letters (depends on if you’re doing a 3-letter monogram or a last name or whatever). Draw the bounding lines in pencil.
- Pencil in your letters. I winged it, using a ruler of course.
- Using an Xacto knife, trace the outline of the letters. Don’t know if this is completely necessary but it worked for me - made it easier for me to sand within.
- Sand where you want to paint if your board has a smooth finish already on it like mine did. I sanded within the outlines of the letters and the several inches of wood board on either side of my letters, as I wanted to add a series of stripes on each side. Just rough up the wood enough for paint to stick.
- Tape off the edges of the board where your stripes will be. I learned throughout this project that artist tape and painter’s tape work better than regular masking tape! Apply 2 coats of white paint (or whatever your selected base color may be).
- Free-hand paint your letters with 2 coats of your base color paint. With a small brush, it was easy. Plus, no need for it to be perfect. The thread/yarn on top cover small mistakes beautifully.
- Now it’s just a matter of taping off stripes to paint the various colors of your choice, and making sure you systematically repeat your actions in order to make both ends symmetrical. 2 coats. Let your stripes dry in between colors. I randomly selected the width and placement of my stripes, but often made decisions based on stripes that weren’t perfectly crisp (to cover my own mistakes). As stated earlier, artist tape or painter’s tape makes for crisper lines.
- Once it’s all dry and you’ve removed the tape, you’re ready to work on the letters. Hammer the pins into your board at points along the letters. I tested several different nails and nail lengths, and I found that these crafting pins were not only the most beautiful but also the most functional.
- I elected to use a combo of a pink yarn with a dark brown thread because I love the contrast in gauge and the depth created by the contrasting colors. Knot the threads together around one of your pins at the end of the letter.
- Add a dab of glue onto the knot so you can cut off the excess without worrying about an unravel.
- Start wrapping. I think that first wrapping the yarn/thread outside the outline of the letter, and then zigzagging across the middle worked well. But whatever. The randomness is part of the charm.
- I did “full wraps” around some of the pins to make it more secure - as shown in the top left pin picture below. I added dabs of super glue to these spots because I’m paranoid.
- Finish the thread how you started, by knotting and adding some super glue (then cutting off excess).
- And some more pics of greater detail just because: