Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to School Bulletin Board Revisited

Once in a while, you come up with a neat idea, and you want to share it. I can't WAIT to share this one with you guys today. It has had me pretty geeked ever since I finished it up...
LinkI am in charge of the main area bulletin boards at my son's school. Some of you may remember my Back to School Bulletin Board idea from last year posted here. This year, I wanted to make another Back to School Bulletin Board, but go bigger. Way big, as in 40" letters. The above photo is what I ended up making. Here are the details...

The Concept
I knew I wanted to use the name of the school, and I knew I wanted it to go on a big curved wall in the main hallway of the school. I also knew I HAD to use pictures creatively. At first, I thought XL poster frames, containing pictures to spell out the word "Wilcox." But those were pricy. And fairly heavy. And more permanent than I wanted them to be. So I kept thinking...

Random sidenote: I get most of my ideas in the shower. Somehow, I relax and think and things fall into place or something. But this time, the idea hit me like a lead balloon in that "Peter Pan" state of sleep where you're not quite awake, yet not yet asleep. I got out of bed, wrote it down on a sheet of paper, because I was too afraid to lose the concept if I didn't make a note of it. I love it when that happens. Am I the only one?

The answer that came to me: Solid BLACK FOAM CORE. Dark=impact. Lightweight, so if it crashed, no one got hurt and there would be minimal damage. It had body to it, yet could be hung with Scotch adhesive brand strips (love!). It was readily available at a local craft store, affordable, and large enough to make an impact. I was giddy at the mere thought of this project.

Close-up of a sample tinted picture (made with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Picnik or Picasa, or any simple photo editing program--check your printer).
The Process
The next morning, I got to the craft store and purchased the largest piece of solid black (not white in the middle) foam core. It was 40"x55". This one sheet made the "W" and the "I"--the largest and the smallest letters. I wanted to test the concept out first, to see if it would work, and later went back to get the individual pieces of foam core to finish up the project.
Using a yardstick, a pencil, a metal edge ruler, a utility knife and these Martha Stewart Varsity Alphas as inspiration, I went to work tracing out letters. Measuring and laying out, then cutting the letters out was time consuming, but I did manage to cut ALL 6 out in one evening. I'm not going to lie--I wish there was an easier way outside using the utility knife. I ended up going through multiple times with each cut, and it left me with very jagged edges. This resulted in many painful paper cuts (it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.) I discovered that using a sanding block to knock off the fuzzy edges really worked well.

Next, I went into my school photos file. I selected several photos taken from last school year (and added a few new ones from the school as well) and tinted them. My original idea was to just use regular old photos, or maybe even black and white. But since I'm a fan of the rainbow and ROYGBV, and there were exactly SIX letters here, I used that to my advantage!

The photo editing took about 4 hours, simply because I was working on a loaner computer that was SLOW. I uploaded them to my local Costco and had them printed in matte finish (because fingerprints don't show as easily, and because I prefer it.) I also opted each photo to be framed in a black border--anticipating that the black border with the black core board would work to my advantage and create a more cohesive finished look.

How many photos did I print? Well, it varied with each letter. I had the most red (about 45), because the "W" was huge. but not so many orange for the "I." I ended up with about 5 extra photos for each letter, and I have them set aside, just in case they get damaged somehow at the school...
The adhesive I used was the Tombo Mono--and I used a LOT. I did have to go back and re-apply with red-line tape in a few areas before I took them up to the school, and was glad that I had the time to let them sit, to see if any bubbling or puckering would occur. Could you use a wet glue? I wouldn't recommend it, simply because I always advise people to not use a wet glue with any photo project.
How did I place my photos on the board? Completely and totally random. I did a dry run of an area, glued some down, and then trimmed off excess as I moved along. Placing all the photos on the letters themselves took about 5 hours (only because I'm a bit of a perfectionist on certain things) and I wanted it to look good.
The total cost of the project was about $40 (using 2 coupons for foam core and a sale on the prints). How could you apply this to another idea? How about doing a giant number(s) for someone's birthday, or "2012" for a grad party? What about a child's name on a smaller scale for their bedroom? The name of your favorite sports team for a favorite fan, a "Mr. & Mrs." for a wedding (using photos from the couple's courtship perhaps). The possibilities are endless!!

Special thanks to my daughter Jami, for playing the role of Vanna in the photos, nurse to my many paper cuts, and partner in crime while creating this for her alma mater. Gotta love a crafty helper--and I couldn't have done this one without her. :)

I hope this idea inspires you and plants a tiny little seed in your creative process today. Thanks so much for allowing me to share!!

Enjoy your day!

10 comments:

Aphra said...

Love this!!! The tinted photos are genius. My hubby's 49th b-day is next month and I am inspired!!! Thanks. :)

jamie said...

trish...you are amazing. i can totally relate to ideas during a shower. you are not alone.
you kids must be so proud of you.
~j

pickmepam said...

i was going to ask "who's behind the letter W?", but you beat me to it by showing your daughter! Very cool idea!

Gina M said...

Wow... Truly impressive work. It is so welcoming too! They are lucky to have a parent helper like you be so involved at their school. I hope it lasts all year. Thanks for sharing all your craftiness:)

Mommie of Three said...

Great idea! My daugther's 1st Birthday is coming up and this has inspired me for her birthday finding photos from the past year. Thanks! www.theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com

Ryzmomplus2 said...

OMG with Zach graduating this year, how perfect!

Anonymous said...

Trish-you have outdone yourself. What an amazing gift to give the school. Stacey D.

Mommyblogger said...

My friend, you are a genius! This looks incredible. Great work :)

Karen said...

You.are.amazing! Wow! How did you get the letters sized so perfectly and uniformly without a template? Thanks for sharing another great idea!

Lyndi said...

These look really great - good job! I love both photos and decorating with words, so I will probably use this somewhere!