Alma Mater State Artwork

Good morning and welcome to the new year! Ryan and I ended up driving to Des Moines and going to a party with a couple friends of ours. It was quite a fun night that ended with some Cards Against Humanity and Digiorno pizza, not too shabby. Also, even though the my sisters and I were in different cities and time zones for the night, it felt like we were celebrating together because our snapchat/text game was on pointe. Hopefully you also got to bring in 2015 surrounded with people you love. 

new years 2015          

Today, I’m sharing with you a simple project that I actually made as a gift for Ryan’s sister and husband. They’re redoing their bathroom with an ISU Cyclones theme so I made them a plaque they could hang as decoration. They went to Iowa Sate for college and lived in Ames for a few years, so the state with a heart over the city seemed quite appropriate. In the school colors of course, cardinal and gold.

Materials needed: 

  • 8×10 wood plaque, precut or cut out of plywood
  • sandpaper
  • wood stain and rags
  • removable vinyl drawer covering
  • utility knife
  • roller
  • acrylic paint in two colors and brushes
  • sealer
  • picture hanger, self-leveling works great

First up, you want to get the piece of wood ready. Sand it a couple of times, all sides, with course and fine grade sandpaper. Then with a rag, stain at least one face and all edges of the wood. You can stain the other side, but it’ll face the wall so it doesn’t really matter. Let dry completely.

State Love wood

Make and print the state layout.  I used Photoshop for this, but any simple picture editor should work. Place the outline of the state as the background. Then, in a different color, place a heart over the city you want to highlight. Location doesn’t have to be 100% exact because you could spend all day doing that. As helpful guides, I also placed crosshairs across the middle to help me center the design on the wood. Print your design.

State Love design

Cut two pieces of vinyl at least to the measurements of the wood. Trace the state outline and heart to the pieces. For the state, I also marked the edges of the 8×10, again to help me center the design. For the heart, I marked the edges of the state. You can use a light box to help you trace this or against a window works just fine. 

State Love trace design

Carefully, cut each outline out of the vinyl pieces. 

State Love cutouts

Peel and stick the state vinyl stencil to the wood and use a roller to remove any air bubbles. 

State Love roll

With a brush and first choice of color, paint over the whole state. Let dry a little and paint again. Do this at least three times to get a good color in the plaque. Keeping brush stokes in the same direction will also make your piece more uniform. Peel of the vinyl as soon as you paint the last layer. You want to do this while the paint is still wet to avoid peeling the paint off and having it be pulled with the stencil.

State Love state layer

Once the state layer is completely dry, do the same with the heart stencil making sure to use your guides to align the stencil properly over the state. 

State Love heart layer

Let it set for a day and then it’s ready to be sealed. Any wood sealer will work. I decided to go with Krylon’s Flat sealer. Three coats of sealer in the front, back and sides. Finally, place picture hangers about one inch from the top and centered on the back. 

State Love seal

Your Alma Mater artwork is ready to be displayed.

State Love Plaque

I loved the rough brushstrokes this piece ended up with.

State Love detail

Have a good weekend!

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