Diy Decor: Ideas For Inspirational Religious Wall Plaques

It's easy to make your own inspirational plaques. No artistic skills are necessary. Follow these simple steps for great results.

Inspirational wall plaques are easy to make, and can be great gifts, too. All you need are some pictures, glue, a foundation for your plaque, and a way to display it. No artistic skill is necessary, and this makes a fun family project, too.

CHOOSE YOUR BASE

Start with the foundation. At most crafts and hobby shops, you can purchase wooden items designed for this kind of project. For example, you can use a plain board with sanded edges, a small decorative sled or a wooden serving tray. Or, you may want to start with a clock kit, and make your plaque a practical part of your room decor.

There are other good choices for wall plaques. For example, you can use a dinner plate, especially heavy plastic china intended for picnic use.

An old cutting board can also be a great base for a plaque. Or, if you shop at yard sales, an existing plaque can be covered with your new, inspirational design.

Once you've chosen the foundation, it's time to look for a single picture or several smaller pictures, to decorate your plaque. Be sure that they'll fit your plans.

SOURCES OF PLAQUE IMAGES

Since this is an inspirational project, you may use religious magazines that you have around the house. The art on weekly church bulletins can be a great choice, too.

Do you want to include text, or a quote from Scripture? If your handwriting is good, you can hand letter it. Or, you can cut words or phrases from magazines.

If you have a computer printer, you can print the words, phrases, or lines that you'd like, in the font, size and color that you want.

However, if you use an inkjet printer, remember that the ink can smudge during the gluing process. And, most inkjet inks are not lightfast; they will fade in days or weeks, even in indirect sunlight.

The solution to this problem is simple: Print the text or images that you'd like on your inkjet printer, and then have the pages photocopied.

DECIDE IF YOU'D LIKE A BACKGROUND

Would you like a background design for your plaque? You might choose a photo of a beautiful landscape, or a floral design. There are also plain and patterned tissue papers and wrapping papers that can be used as a background.

Or, you could paint the background a color to compliment the room where you'll display the plaque. Spray paint is especially easy for this purpose.

If you're feeling creative, try painting a simple rainbow or sunset, or even an abstract pattern of colors.

If your plaque has a Christmas theme, you might try a background with a dark sky and small stars, plus one brighter star. If your plaque is for the Easter season, three crosses or try an open cave with a stone door rolled to one side.

Whichever background you choose, if any, be sure that it looks good with the pictures and text that you'll use.

PREPARING THE PLAQUE SURFACE

Once you have the images and any text that you plan to include, it's time to prepare the surface of your plaque.

If you're working with a polished surface such as a plastic plate, it's a good idea to scuff it with a very fine grade of steel wool, or lightly sand it. This will enable the glue to hold well when you're applying the pictures.

If your foundation is unfinished wood, coat it with some kind of sealer, on the front and back. The best surfaces are polyurethane, or an acrylic sealer; they come in clear, stains, and sometimes colors.

Polyurethane is durable, and ideal for a kitchen plaque since it can be sponged off easily. But, it can yellow slightly, too, so keep this in mind if you use it for this project. In addition, polyurethane should be used in a well-ventilated area.

Acrylic finishes can be durable, especially if you apply several layers. They work better for a family project since they usually have no toxic odors.

Coat one side of the plaque and the edges first. Let this dry. Then, turn the plaque over and coat the other side. Let this dry before you do anything else.

GETTING READY TO GLUE

Once your surface is sealed and ready for use, prepare the pictures that you're going to use. Trim excess paper from the edges, and lightly iron any pages that have wrinkles or folds.

There are several glues designed for making plaques and other paper projects. Be sure to get one that keeps the paper from bubbling or buckling while it's wet. It should mention this on the label.

Don't use rubber cement. Over time, it can stain the paper and turn it yellow or translucent.



Spray adhesives can work well, but the odor can be strong and the glue can drift onto other surface.

Check the scrapbooking section of any crafts supply shop for glues and adhesives.

Many professional collage artists use acrylic gel medium, a paste-like product sold in jars in the fine art (drawing and painting) section of the crafts supply shop. You can use either matte or gloss finish, depending upon the finish you'd like on your plaque. Be sure to get a couple of sponge brushes while you're there, to apply the gel medium to your project.

No matter which glue product you choose, experiment first with pictures that don't matter. Find out how much glue holds each picture well, without adding bulk or making the paper bubble.

ASSEMBLING YOUR PROJECT

Before beginning to glue the pieces in place, experiment with different placement of the pictures and text. You can sketch this on paper, or simply place the pieces on the plaque foundation, to see how they look.

When you have a design that you like, it's time to glue.

Paper bubbles easily with most glues. To minimize this, work very slowly and let each layer dry completely.

Apply glue to the back of the first picture that you want to put on your plaque. If you're using a sponge brush to apply gel or an adhesive, try to use the smallest number of strokes. While paper is damp, it can stretch; the drag of the brush can make it worse.

Place the image where you want it to be, making certain that the edges stick. Unless it folded or wrinkled while you were applying it, do not try to smooth any bubbles out of the paper. As the glue dries, the bubble will probably shrink naturally. In most cases, the bubbles won't entirely vanish, but they won't be very noticeable.

Remember that many glues and gel mediums look white when they're wet, but dry clear. If any glue gushed out from underneath the picture, you can lift it with your finger or a cotton swab, or the corner of a tissue. If some residue remains, smooth it as best you can and wait for it to dry.

TROUBLESHOOTING

If your glue doesn't want to stick to the finish on your plaque foundation, you may need to apply weight to the picture while it dries.

First, tear a piece of wax paper slightly larger than the surface of your plaque. Place it over the plaque, and then put a book or other heavy, flat surface on the wax paper. Be sure that the book covers the entire area where you'd like the picture to stick.

Wait for this to dry. Because it isn't very exposed to air, it may take several hours or even a day to dry. Then, remove the book and the wax paper and check the picture. If this worked, you'll repeat this process--with fresh wax paper each time--for each layer.

If the picture didn't stick, lightly sand the area of the plaque where you plan to have pictures. Clean off any dust. Then, glue your first picture in place, as described above.

KEEP ADDING LAYERS

After the glue has dried completely, it's time to apply the next picture. Use the same process, and wait for this picture to dry completely before adding another picture or text.

Continue until all of your pictures are on the plaque.

When the layers are completely dry, it's time to seal the plaque.

SEALING YOUR PLAQUE, AND ADDING TEXT

Because you put glue only on the back of each picture, the surface of the paper may still need sealing.

If you used gel medium as your paper adhesive, you can use a sponge brush to cover the front of the plaque with an even coat of the medium.

If you used any other kind of glue, seal your plaque with a clear acrylic sealer or polyurethane, similar to what you used if you were working on unfinished wood. A thin, single coat should be enough.

Let it dry completely.

Now it's time for you to add handwritten text, or additional painted details, if you like.

There are paint pens, similar to felt writers, that you can use to write on your plaque. If they're made with acrylic paint, you can wipe off mistakes with a damp paper towel while the writing is still wet.

Otherwise, you may be able to write on your plaque with a Sharpie-type pen, or other marker designed for labeling CDs.

And, you can add details with acrylic paint, too. If you'd like a sparkling effect, such as for Christmas stars, look for an acrylic artists paint called "interference gold" or any other interference color. This is a paint that looks white or tinted when you apply it, but it dries nearly clear. From some angles, you'll see light catch the very fine sparkles in the paint. Otherwise, this paint will look almost invisible when dry.

For a more ornate effect, you can add another thin coat of whatever you're using as a sealer, and sprinkle glitter over the plaque. You may want yet another layer of clear sealer after this.

Or, for a richer effect, consider a clear epoxy finish. Crafts supply shops and woodworking stores carry a variety of self-leveling finishes that are long-lasting and provide a very professional look.

FINISHING YOUR PLAQUE

When plaque is completely dry, it's time to add the finishing details.

Whether the plaque is for personal use, for your family, or a gift for a friend, it's nice to put your name and date on the back of it. That way, people will always know who made it, and when. A Sharpie pen or similar marker is perfect for this.

To display the plaque on your wall, you can use any picture hanging hardware sold at any arts & crafts or home improvement store.

If you're using a single hook, you can glue it in place rather than hammer it through the plaque, if nails might cause damage. The glue that you used for your pictures may be strong enough. If not, any household glue will probably work.

Finally, display your plaque for others to enjoy. Inspirational plaques are a wonderful addition to any room, and a fine reminder of your values and aspirations.

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