DIY With Bookhou: Plaster Letters Project

Contributor post by Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou

this project is a fun way to create oversize letters in your own font and style.

what you need:
cardboard (I just cut up an old box)
exacto knife
cutting mat
hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
plaster of paris
burlap (or other fabric that is open weave)
plastic container/bucket
clear packing tape
sanding paper
graphite powder
gloves (optional)
clear coat spray (optional)

draw your letters on cardboard and cut strips of cardboard 2 inches high (height is optional - in hindsight I realized I could of done them a bit thinner 1 in.)
length of strips should be the same length as the longest side - you want to avoid seams.

once you have the strips cut you are ready to glue them down using your pencil drawing as a guide. make sure when you are gluing that you don't burn yourself and to overlap the corners.

for curve shapes you can take your exacto knife and score lines to make the cardboard curve better. feel free to use additional hot glue on edges and seams to make them stronger - always glue on the side that won't be filled with the plaster.

use the clear packing tape to tape all the walls of the cardboard mold - this may take some time, but well worth it - it will make the plaster release from the mold easier and less surface clean up.

take the plastic bucket and fill it with lukewarm water a quarter of the way
proceed to add the plaster of paris to the water
create a little mound and let sit for 1 minute to allow the water to seep in
stir with your hands - wearing gloves is optional (will make cleaning up easier)
the consistency should be like yogurt (if the mixture is watery it takes longer to set - if it's thicker it will set faster)

to clean bucket - wait till plaster hardens and you squeeze the bucket to break out the plaster

pour the plaster mixture into the mold halfway and take your fingers and move the plaster so that it's on the inside walls - this is not a necessary step, but this important if you don't want to see a seam when you pour the send half of the plaster.

while you are waiting for the plaster to thicken up (around 5 minutes)
cut up strips of burlap - you don't need a lot and you will only need one layer of the burlap
repeat step 3
take the strips of burlap and dip it into the plaster mixture and lay down on top of first layer of plaster poured. once that is done pour the plaster up to the top of the walls of your mold.

let it set to dry (approx. 4 hours or hard to the touch).

once the plaster hardens - remove from the mold by cutting the cardboard with an eacto knife.

once the cardboard has been removed use sand paper to sand and clean the edges - you can also use an exacto knife for the edges, but be careful not to cut yourself.
it's also a good idea to sand while the plaster is still damp to avoid unnecessary plaster dust.
if you are doing something else you can wrap it up in plastic to avoid it drying out completely.

plaster part is completed - if you like the look of the plaster you can leave it white or you can try different surface treatments like painting.

I decided to use graphite powder to give it a metal look.(if you don't have graphite powder you can take a graphite stick and sand it or you can take a soft pencil and draw on the surface) wait till the plaster is dry and not damp before applying the graphite powder with a brush I rubbed in the graphite on to the surface - this process is very quick. as an option you can use a clear coat to spray the surface so that you don't get graphite powder on your walls etc.

I hope you like this project.


Jan Halvarson


Paige said...

i love this!
i would never have thought of making something like this myself.. but this is such a cute idea!!


Sonia / COZY MEMORIES said...

well wow !!!! this is simply brilliant !
thank you for the tutorial, Arounna, and thank you for sharing it too, Jan !

Will @ Bright.Bazaar said...

such a great craft project; I love it.

Michelle @ Dream Home DIY said...

Thanks for sharing, what a fun idea!

melomelo said...

I really want to try this when I go home.. this might actually be a really creative gift !

Emily said...

Great idea- can't wait to try it! Just curious, what is the point of the burlap strips and the two layers of plaster? Don't want to sound stupid, I just don't get it:)

arounna said...

sorry - emily I guess I didn't mention why I did that.

for smaller letters you can probably get away with not including the burlap, but when you make larger ones like the ones I did - the burlap makes the shape stronger and won't break in half easily.

hope that answers your question.

patricia zapata said...

Absolutely love this!!

Anonymous said...

what a fabulous idea. I think I will spell out "tea" and then store my tea in tiny tins underneath them. so excited for my weekend project!

Linz said...

huh? sorry. DYI projects go right over my hopelessly non-crafty head. but thanks so much for the tutorial. i love at least learning about the process. ;)

Odd Sundays said...

i would love to try this! letters are so unique. thanks for posting!

colene said...

thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been looking for something just like this!

Ms Scully Here said...

Wonderful use of a rainy day and way to save money. And I love working in plaster!

Emily said...

Arounna, thanks for the clarification- makes sense:) I'm SOOOO doing this soon!

leah said...

what a cool idea! <3 this... I think I see a project in my future... :)

Lauren said...

Such a cool tutorial! Great reuse for cardboard too! The next time I want to write something on the wall I will know where to come to learn how. Thanks!


Anne-Marie @ 10 Rooms said...

I am trying this one right away! Fantastic DIY! thanks

Coco Cake Land said...

woh. so awesome.!

Creative Mind said...

its wonderful...perfect,perfect....thanx 4 sharing i like it muchhhhhhhhhhhhh

Katie said...

wow! this is awesome. I saw this on craftgawker and figured I check this out. So glad I did... a new follower in deed.

Heather Leigh said...

You can do this same process, but with Quikcrete (fast-drying cement found at most home improvement or craft stores) and shiny-coated poster paper lining your molds for a smooth, unfinished concrete look. I used to do this all the time for architecture projects with great results!

Kelsey said...

Can't wait to try this!!

Thank you!!!

Brunna Mancuso said...

i love you for this (:


Anecdotal Anna said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you - my children and I have been searching hi and low for all the letters of the alphabet for an alphabet wall we are doing in their play room. Finding different sizes in differing fonts is a long process, but now we can make our own(without the need for dangerous power tools).
Thanks for sharing your creativity with us.

Lisa said...

For the burlap I am assuming that chhese cloth or chicken wire would also work. Great instructions, I will put a long piece of wire or some sort of hook in my to hang on the wall!

Jamie @ DIY Home Sweet Home said...

These letters turned out fantastic. I featured them on my site to share with my readers. Please stop by and check it out.


this is just awesome..i love the nice technique..thanks for sharing with us dear

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm just wondering how you hung this up? Did you use a photo frame hanger or a nail or something else?

Love the project! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi--just wondering how you hung this. Did you use a photo frame hanger or a nail or something else?

Love the project. Thanks!


Dollar Store Crafter said...

Awesome Idea.........Love It !!!

Inma Merino said...

hi!! I'm sharing your awesome idea with my children in my DIY workshop...we are having so much fun!! Thank you!!

Thespoena McLaughlin said...

Cute letters! Call me crazy but I kind of liked the cardboard outlines too. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I have one question for you: I'm going to create letters of 30 cm height and 1cm thick, how many layers of cloth are used?

However, it is a great idea and you did a great job! :)

Unknown said...

I have one question for you: I'm going to create letters of 30 cm height and 1cm thick, how many layers of cloth are used?

However, it is a great idea and you did a great job! :)

It's never to late to be who you want to be. I hope you choose well. If not, I hope you have the courage to begin again. said...

Even after 3 years this has appeared on Pinterest and is still a very current and classic post. I am so impressed by the thoroughness of your instructions. Thank You.

Mariana said...

Wow!Thanks for the tutorial! I am currently exploring plaster crafts and i am so happy because Ihave found this!