Today’s Guest Tutorial: Distressed Alphabet Art with Delia Creates


My name is Delia.

I have a blog:
I am a new craft blogger and I am thrilled to be here guest posting for Jessica. I have been an admirer of her blog for a long time so I feel really blessed to be here. Thank you Jessica for giving me this opportunity!

I like to create things.

I am a mom to two boys.

I often try to craft and create around them…during naps, at night, five minutes here and 10 minutes there.

Well this time, I decided I want to create WITH them.

We do kid crafts often. Elmer’s glue, grainy construction paper, cotton balls, macaroni…That is not really what I had in mind this time. I wanted to go for collaborative projects that harnessed both of our creativity into a meaningful craft we both enjoy and that will last. From that, four kid creative crafts were born.
So all this week will be Kids Create week at my blog!

I will showcase a different kid project everyday. Most of these projects will require just having fun with your kids drawing or going on a photography walk and then using what they have made into something else later. My boys are young (five and 19 months) so my projects are geared very much to them. If your children are older they may be able to help with the “manual” labor more and be even more involved. These are great summer projects you can set aside for when your kids get out of school too.

On Friday I will share my favorite kid projects that I have seen you do. So join me here and create with your kids this week!

To kick off Kids Create week I am sharing a tutorial on this: distressed alphabet art

First off you will need:
–a digital camera {preferably two…one for you and one for your child}
–photoshop, picasa, and/or other photo editing programs {GIMP and Piknik are free online programs, and I know that photobucket has some editing capabilities}
–gel medium – you can get a nice big jar at Michael’s for about $13. This is a good time to use your coupon. : )

–a sponge brush
–a canvas (mine is 11 x 14…you can get a pack of like 7 or 10? for about $20 at Michael’s. If you use another coupon it makes a pretty nice price for a canvas and the start of many more projects :))
–a spray bottle of water

Let’s get started:

Go on a photography walk or drive. We went on several walks over the course of a week to make sure we got all the letters we needed. We kept a list of the letters and crossed them off when we found them.

TIP: When looking for letters try to have them spaced well. If the letters are too crowded it will be too difficult to crop out the letter later.

I will be honest. My son is five so he was looking for letters and words about a third of the time. They often were too far away and cropped funny. Instead of stifling his creativity by constantly pressuring him to take it a certain way, I just let him shoot what he spotted and quietly took a picture of it as well {and interjecting tips and “good ideas” along the way}. That way if his photo didn’t turn out I had a back up. :)

The other 2/3 of the time I was pointing words out and snapping away while he took pictures of random objects. Again…no pressure. The goal of this is to have fun.

Take the images home. Load up your pictures. I cropped and sized all the letters to 4×6 inches in photoshop. I don’t think you really NEED to do this. I just think it makes it easier to put into a collage. You can use picasa to crop your photos easily {and it’s free!}. If the letters look a bit grainy don’t worry. Once they are printed and then transferred it will likely look better. Just make sure it is not too blurry. If it is go on another walk and snap another photo. : )

*When you go to make a collage in Picasa just use the picture pile mode in settings, remove shadows, and place photos.

I had several options for some of the letters so I had my son sit with me and pick which ones he wanted to use.

If you don’t have Photoshop you can use GIMP {free online} or you can have the copy place that you print your picture at, size the photo for you.

Again…you can have the copy shop reverse the image for you. It may cost you more to have them do this for you but I know many places will do it.

Make sure you get it printed with LASER TONER. If you use inkjet ink, the image will not transfer. You can do this project in color or black in white. Both will work as long as you are using laser copies.

Now you are ready to transfer it to canvas.

Let this dry completely. I let it dry overnight. This is a nice project to do with kids because you have to pick it up and put it down a lot and work 5-10 minutes at a time.

Repeat this process until the paper is all rubbed away (or as much as you can). We had to go three rounds before we were done. As you can see there are still some traces of paper left. That is okay. Just be sure to not over rub so as not to remove too much of the image.

Let it dry…and you’re done!

Hang it up and admire. : )

Notice some of the rubbed off spots. I think it adds nice texture.

If you are interested in doing this with portraits. You can check my how to here.
It is pretty similar to this tutorial though.

or do one of Jessica’s really cool posterized gel medium wooden plaques.

***A shorter version of this project is to just snap enough letters for their name, instead of the whole alphabet, and then proceed with the project as written.

Have fun creating with your kids! And…thank you again to Jessica! See you later.

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  1. says

    This is such a neat idea! I just happen to have a canvas and a gel medium so we are going on a walk to snap some photos and have fun :)
    Thank you for sharing and for the wonderful inspiration!

    I always look for crafts that involve my daughter instead of just saying “Five more minutes!” until I try to finish whatever I happen to work on.

  2. says

    Delia, you are too darling and too creative! I love your site and your photography (as you already know :))
    Happy to see you here on Jessica’s site!

  3. says

    This is such a wonderful idea. I was hoping o make an AC photo project with my kids when they are a bit older (only 2 now) but this takes it to another level… Awesome…

  4. says

    Michelle, mod lodge and decopage are different and cannot do the image transfer. They are more for just doing a top coat on something. Gel medium can be used as a top coat as well as a transfering medium and is not sticky like mod lodge

  5. says

    What a great idea :-)
    My son is just learning the alphabet and as it’s his birthday in a month I will go looking for letters and make him one of thees :-)

  6. Anonymous says

    you actually CAN use a regular ink jet printer, I did, and it turns out fine. It isn’t as sharp looking and comes out a little faded looking, that was what I was wanting though so it worked out perfectly. I was wanting the “vintage” look. I also used paints and other materials to decopauge onto my canvas with my pictures. You can use so many things like buttons, rafia, paint it then drag a fork through the paint… etc.

  7. Julie Henderson says

    Anything with that cool ‘ephemera-ransom note-nothing’s cookie cutter’ look to it totally feeds my inner crafter! Love this. Delia, your 2 little guys look like they are precious! Blessings – Julie H.

  8. says

    Not sure if you’re still checking comments but if you rub off all the paper you can and then cover with the medium, does the medium dry with the paper clear or will you still see the extra paper? Mine looks great wet

    • says

      Hi Lindsay :) I have done these projects and there is always some paper left on when it dries. The medium does make a lot of that disappear, but you might still see some depending on how much was left on. Fortunately, it really isn’t noticable unless you really inspect it though.

    • says

      Hi there, you wrote that you must use a print from a laser printer. I’ve read tutorial where they say you must use ink jet because laser doesn’t work. Obviously you have done it many time with laser printed photos?

    • says

      Hi there, I’ve read some tutorials where it said you have to use a ink jet print and laser doesn’t work. Obviously you have done lots of artwork with laser printed photos? Do you know more about this issue? Do both work?

    • says

      Hi Sandy :) I’ve always read laser printer was the best and I agree. I have personally tried it with my home printer (ink jet) and it did not work well at all. I have always gone and made a copy at the grocery store of library. You can always give it a go though :) Maybe it might work for you. It would be a learning experience regardless :)

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