28 March 2011

Look for Less: DIY Faux Zinc Letters

I think it's safe to say that we are all obsessed with Anthropologie's Zinc Letters.

Not so much in love with their $18 price tag per letter.

I've wanted these letters for quite some time now, (most recently while planning the nursery) but never wanted to shell out the cash for them. While shopping in JoAnn Fabrics this past Saturday to pick up supplies to finish one of my nursery projects, I came across an aisle filled with letters. Wooden, plastic, cardboard, large, small, curvy, boxed. Every type and size. 
I saw these 8 inch paper mache letters:
Originally $2.99 they were on sale for $1.99 on Saturday. Not to mention that I had a 25% off (entire purchase) coupon with me. Remembering that I had seen a few blogs where people made their own Anthropologie letters, I figured I might as well give it a shot myself. And if it didn't work out, I'd only be out a few bucks.

What I needed to decide was how I was going to replicate the metal finish. I had a few ideas. First was to use a metallic spray or craft paint. That would be the easiest way. So for $1.99 I grabbed a bottle of silver metallic finish craft paint and a $.39 sponge brush.

My next idea was to use the faux stainless steel contact paper I had used about a month ago on my laundry room shelves. Since I still had some left over, that cost me zero dollars.

I also thought it would be a good idea to use some sort of silver leaf but I had no luck finding any at JoAnn. If I ever come across any I may still give that a try. 

Armed with my supplies, I got to work on both my letters.

Once they were finished, they looked like this:

Left: contact paper; Right: paint

The paint looked great. Smooth, clean and honestly pretty darn close to metal.

The contact paper, not so much. Not only was it a huge pain to measure, cut and wrap, but there was no real place for a unnoticeable seam. Plus, I couldn't get the paper to lay perfectly smooth on the cardboard with no bubbles or puffiness as you can see below. Not to mention that I picked a pretty basic letter to test with easy, clean lines. This method would be near impossible with an 'S'.

We have a winner! Clearly the metallic craft paint is the way to go. Even better - it only took me about 5 minutes to complete each letter.

$1.99 (letter) + $1.99 (paint) + $.39 (brush) = $4.37 to replicate the $18 Anthropologie letters. And the best part is that the brush is cleanable and reusable, and the leftover paint can be used for more. So it actually costs even less per letter. The only other thing I could do is to incorporate some streaks of black paint to make the letters look a little more rustic/metal. 

Needless to say, I ran back to JoAnn fabrics and bought more letters to paint! I figured I might as well take advantage of their weekend sale and my coupon. 7 more letters only cost me just over $8.00.


  1. Wonderful idea! I love those letters too! And yours look great!

  2. Great idea - I even have some silver metalic paint from long ago....it's back :)