Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crafts for the Non-Crafty: DIY Fridge Dry-Erase Board!

FINALLY! The reason I didn't post this sooner is that I wanted to create an easier way to decorate and demo it, but the whole office chair sitch had to be resolved first. It's resolved, it's done, TIME TO POST! WHEEEE!

First, the finished product, then the how-to's:

You like? Pretty, yes? You want your own? Here's the deets.

First, credit where credit's due: This is not an original craft. In fact, the craft has appeared in a couple of different places. (I found one version at Prudent Baby)This is merely my variation on it, and a simpler version as well.

Your finished product will be a great way to jot down notes on your fridge, or even use as a menu planner! Enjoy!

As I posted in the sneak peek, here are the necessary, and the optional, materials:

* Cheap frame (check the dollar store!), at least 8"x10". If you find it in a color you like, skip the optional paint-related materials.
* 1 piece of Scrapbook paper in a pattern you like, at least 8.5"x11"
* Four 3/4" magnets
* mini glue gun (not pictured)
* Paint (optional) - Acrylic works best for wood; if the frame is metal, look for a Metal paint (bottled or spray). If using wood, I recommend buying at least one bottle of solid white paint to help make the main color POP a little more.
* Sealer for the paint job (Read the labels - you'll want one that works for wood if your frame is wood, same with metal) (optional)
* fine sandpaper (if using wood frame)
* Paint brush (optional - only if you're painting) - I like sponge brushes, cheap and work well.
* 1 piece of vellum paper (optional)
* Spool of thin ribbon (optional)
* patterned rub-ons (optional - not pictured)

If you're wondering about the costs, I can't give you an exact amount due to having all these materials on hand already, so this was free for me. =) But the frame can be found for cheap, the paper is cheap, mini glue guns are usually no more than $5, and the magnets might set you back about $3-4. If you decided to paint it and add rub-ons, that might add about $6-10, too, depending on what you buy . So my estimate, if you're buying everything new and as cheap as you can, the cost might get as high as $15. BUT, if you find a frame you like and don't need to alter the appearance, this project could be as cheap as $10 (again, buying everything new).

The Steps:
1. Take your frame apart. Remove the glass and the frame backing. Plug in the mini glue gun, making sure it's set over paper or something (as the glue will drip a little once it's warmed up).

2. On the frame backing, eye where you want to place the magnets. Make sure the magnets will be clear of the frame once the frame is re-applied! Once you've placed them where you want them, Lift them up one at a time, squirt a little of the hot glue, then re-place the magnet over the glue. (Don't worry about those little strings - we'll trim them away when the glue's dry!) Repeat with all the magnets. Set aside and DON'T TOUCH until you're done with everything else - it'll give the glue ample time to dry.

3. Take the glass and apply it to the side of the scrapbook paper you don't want to use. Trace the frame's shape along the paper, then cut out the paper according to the tracing. DONE. (Oh, and go windex the glass if it's dirty.)
I demo'd this on the wrong side - ignore my mistakes. xD

3A. Here's where the vellum comes in, if needed - IF you really love the print of your paper, but you're afraid it'll be hard to read writing on it, this is what the vellum is for. Vellum will kind of tone down the print, like a thin fog over it, but the print will still be visible behind it, I assure you! It'll just make any writing you do on the glass easier to see. Trace and cut it just like you do the paper.
4. Prep the frame for alteration, if necessary. (This step is if you are changing the frame's appearance; if not, skip this step!) For a wood frame (which I used), sand down any unsmooth spots first. This is really easy - just rub the paper back and forth until the rough spots go away (extra-fine sandpaper will do this without altering the surface drastically). Then apply at least one layer of white paint, if using acrylic paint. If you don't mind the wood grain showing through your paint, you can skip this step for a wood frame, but if you want a solid color base, you'll need to use the white paint.
5. Once the frame is primed, paint! Make sure you cover the front of the frame, then the sides. Don't worry about the back - it's going to be up against the fridge, who's gonna know? ;D Let the first coat dry, then give it one more coat. IF you're using spray paint, paint the frame OUTSIDE and with lots of paper under it to protect the ground - esp. if you're like me and live in an apartment. Don't want THAT coming out of your deposit!
This version, I used a pearly white paint without a base coat. It basically white-washed the wood, but I liked the end result, so it was a happy accident!
6. If you are happy with the frame just being a new neat-o color, then go ahead and seal your frame according to the sealer instructions. If you want a little more OOMPH, here's where the rub-ons come in. I would recommend cutting the rub-ons into strips to fit the width of the frame sides first, then place them close to each other, end-to-end, to create a seamless design.
The right side of the design that's a little blurry is how the rub-on looks when you've rubbed it on sufficiently. If you HAVEN'T rubbed it on the surface enough, it'll look more like the design's left side.
This was the design as a whole, and how I cut it into strips. I measured the frame first, then cut from there.
Once the rub-ons have all been, well, rubbed, SLOWLY peel off the top opaque paper. If the rub-on comes back up with the top paper, gently lay it back down and try again; sometimes it needs a little more elbow grease is all. THEN seal your frame according to the sealer instructions.
Ta-Da! This is the easier decorated version I made. Seriously, paint and rub-ons, that's it.
7. ALMOST DONE, HOME-STRETCH, PEOPLE! Put the glass back in the frame. Put the vellum against the glass (if using), then the printed paper, then the backing with magnets attached (now you can pull away those little glue strings), and lock the backing into place. TA-DA! DONE! You now have a nifty Dry Erase board for your fridge!

Optional variations:
- If you want to use the frame solely for meal-planning, replace the pretty printed paper with a meal-planning print-out! I recommend the adorable "Pots and Pans" one from the OlliBird blog, which is free! (It might need to be resized, depending on the frame size you buy.) A simple 8.5x11 weekly organizer is here, from Perideau Designs (found via The Frugal Life Project)

- If are a crafty sort like myself and know how to emboss, embossing looked pretty cool! Learn from my Martha Screwups and use a stamp that has fine, thin-lined detail, and don't press down so hard. I still like how it turned out from far away, but I wish half the sections weren't so mottled. (The first project example, with the embossing, is what inspired me to try the rub-ons, - less chance of screwing up!)
This is ultimately the one I put on my fridge, 'cuz I simply like it better for MY kitchen. I really love the silver one, too, though.
- To attach a dry erase marker, simply get some stick-on velcro (MAKE SURE it's stick-on! I'm experienced, and I STILL almost bought the sew-on! Sheesh!). It's a good, sticky glue so you don't NEED to glue-gun it, but I did for the wood just in case. I wrapped the soft side around the marker, and then I put a small strip of glue in the middle of the frame and put the scratchy side on the glue. Gave the glue a minute to dry, then trimmed the sides. Now I always have the pen handy!
The scratchy-side, glued down and trimmed

So, as you can see, a fairly easy project for the novice crafter! Hopefully the pictures and instructions are helpful and easy to understand; this is my first tutorial EVER, so feedback is welcome and appreciated!

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