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Monday, 22 April 2013

Toddler blocks- birthday gift DIY

Toddler blocks- first birthday DIY gift

Once again my children are invited to a birthday party. That's four birthday parties in five weeks- who is it who says home schooled children are under socialized again?

Once again I shall DIY a gift for the birthday boy. This one, however, is kind of a cheat. Scratch that. It's a cheat, no "kind of" about it. For one, I broke the bank. Rather than my typical $8 budget, this one cost me $12. Secondly, it took zero effort. I quite literally cut and pasted my way to a birthday gift.

To begin with I bought a set of three templates from this website.
I found the website while perusing Pintrest one day, and I thought it was adorable. I did spend $12, but that cost will be split between this gift recipient and others after him.  Since I bought the templates, they are mine to use as many times as I wish. So the next first birthday I go to will effectively see the cost of this gift drop from $12 to $6, and the one after that to $4 and so on. I printed the 1.5 inch version onto regular white printer paper. Card stock could also be used.

Next I took nine of my 1.5 inch wood blocks and sanded them down a bit. I take off the sharp edges and prep all the sides for the pasting step.  Yes, I do have wood blocks on hand. I often make baby blocks with letters, numbers, simple images, solid colours and patterned paper on them. The set of blocks I usually make calls for 15 blocks. Since the local craft store wants $1.79 PER BLOCK (hahahahahahahaha! Could you even imagine me paying that?! haha!) I go to the hardware store, buy a length of wood and have my wonderful construction company owning friend cut them down for me. This way I get about 25 blocks for roughly $3 (seriously, $1.79 EACH? hahaha, oh craft store, you crack me up!)

Using plain scissors I cut out the template pieces and using Mod Podge, adhered the paper to the blocks. Few little notes here.  One: Use Mod Podge, not white glue, not double sided tape, not a glue stick. I have even seen recipes for DIY Mod Podge- I promise buying Mod Podge is worth it. You are compromising the quality of your gift by using anything else. Two: Glossy Mod Podge takes longer to dry so I am a personal fan of the matte version. Three: Do not fret about the pieces not being cut exactly, or if they seem the tiniest smidge (is "smidge" a word?) too big. We will get there.
Mod Podge really is best
All glued down
Once your paper is dried to your  blocks, about 5 minutes, take your scissors and cut along the edges to trim them up a bit.
Trim up the paper
Using a fine grit sandpaper, I used 220, sand off the edges of the images on each side. Be gentle. You get best results if you sand in one direction only- away from the center of your image.  As you sand, you will reveal some of the wood block. That's okay, nice even. Sanding, rather than cutting down the images allows for a much nicer looking finished product, the paper looks as though it fades into the wood block rather than a harsh line. Also, sanding rather than cutting allows the Mod Podge in the next step to seal the paper  at the edges much better- not giving small children an opportunity to rip the paper off.

Next using a foam brush (or if you're super cheap like me you buy a 10-pack of foam kitchen sponges from the dollar store, cut the sponges into strips and use a strip in lieu of a foam brush) apply a top coat of Mod Podge to four sides of each block. Allow to dry.  If you have a wire rack (That Guy says its a cooling rack for cookies and the like, but I use it for craft drying) that's an ideal drying surface.  If you do not, a layer of parchment or wax paper on a level surface will work.  Do not use newspaper, as it might stick to the block if any Mod Podge comes in contact with it, ruining that block. When completely dry turn the block and do four more sides, being sure to include the sides that weren't done the first time.  I usually do three coats.
On the drying rack

Allow to dry.
Finished product
Bring to the birthday party and hope no one notices how little effort they really took :)

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