A magnet wall. Thanks to Pinterest and twenty hundred mommy bloggers, I've long wanted a magnet wall for letter practice and crayoned-masterpiece displaying and, well, for cuteness. I considered the equally en vogue chalk wall, but then I remembered I effin' HATE chalk. OMG, just the thought of chalk. The touch, the feel, the SOUND. Kill me. Anyway. Finally, I got to work on a wall for the magnets. At like 8pm last night, which is TOTALLY my husband's favorite thing, when I disappear out to the garage for a few minutes, then start hauling in the hammer and nails and some randomass piece of sheet metal and get that crazy look in my eyes just as he cracks a beer and starts moving toward the remote. It was an easy-peasy project, we still had time to watch Criminal Minds, and I'll share the finished product soon. I'd say I'll share it tomorrow, but we'd all know that's probably a lie that won't happen, because really. Buuuuut, anyway. Today, I set to work on acquiring alphabet magnets to adorn the new magnet wall. I wanted those felt ones we've all seen on Etsy, likewhoa. But $50+? For a set of alphabet magnets? I think not. If I'm going to spend $50, it's not going to be on something my kids will eventually leave on the floor and the dog will take for a snack. No. And for two seconds I thought about sewing some my own damn self but then I remembered I don't actually sew. Details, shmetails.
So this morning, Vivi and I went to a local book store that stocks the cutest kid products (Maria's Bookshop in Durango) .... and, womp womp, just found the primary colored Melissa & Doug ones I've seen fifty times already. But they were a thrifty $13. And wood. And right there in the local store and not in a faraway land called Amazon, Dotcom (patience, I have none). So I bought the not-quite-right magnets. (And twenty other things so sorry J.) And then started thinking about how I'd make them workable. Because primary colors were not going to work. In the basement playroom, perhaps, but the new magnet wall is in our "informal" dining room (the kid-friendly eating area that's in the kitchen, not like the "real" dining room is actually "formal") (because you don't do "formal" in a house with three kids four and under, that's why). So no go on the primaries. First, we went to a hardware store. I needed a few things there, anyway (WHO AM I?) but also thought for sure we'd find the magic fix for our unsightly magnet situ there, because you know what? "Mandy" was playing when we walked in, I shit you not. I laughed, and I told Vivi why I was laughing (because I never sleep? And then I had a Venti? And not enough oxygen in the mountains? Maybe that's why?) and she looked at me like I had three heads and kept a few steps ahead of me with her mini shopping cart pretending we weren't together. We spent some time staring down the cans of spray paint. But .... blech. It was all so bright, and not much better than the primary stuff I was trying to get away from. And there was nothing else in that whole store that caught my eye as a solution, and we have no Hobby Lobby right in town. (Sad panda.) So, I came home, I hauled out the stack of pretty papers and the Mod Podge and I done got to work while the girls napped. Because goshdarnit, there's just about nothing Mod Podge can't fix.
This is what you need to do this project:
-pretty paper (mine is from Hobby Lobby)
-wood magnetic letters (I used the Melissa & Doug brand)
-pen (for tracing the letters)
-scissor (for cutting letters)
-knife or razor blade or something sharp like that (for cutting the holes in the holey letters)
-Mod Podge (if I have to explain this we're over)
-brush for applying the Mod Podge (the cheapo spongie ones work well)
-baby wipes (to take a layer of Mod Podge off your fingers periodically)
-drop cloth (to catch the runaway Mod Podge)
Trace the letter onto your paper. Cut the letter out, using your knife to remove center portions of letters having center portions (O, P, R, etc.) Better to cut the tiniest bit outside the pen marks (tiniest bit!) so you definitely have enough paper to cover the letter. Apply a liberal helping of Mod Podge to the back of the paper using your brush, then apply to colored part of your letter magnet. I set mine in place, then flipped the letter upside down and pressed hard against the drop cloth to ensure the paper went flush to the letter and to remove any paper wrinkles. This also causes the extra Mod Podge to squeeze out the sides, which is good, because next you want to use your finger to smear that Mod Podge on the paper edges and smooth it down.
Then do that 25 more times. Or 51 more times if you're doing upper and lower case, bless your heart.
Also: I only glued paper to the top, and not the sides. These magnets are pretty thin and the sides are plain wood colored, so they looked just fine with exposed edges. Does that make any sense? Does any of this? 'Ello? I mean, knock yourself out if you want to wrap the paper around the edges as well, or cut little tiny strips to apply to the edges, but yeah. I'll see you in the year three thousand when you're done with that nonsense.
And ...... TA-DA! Alphabet magnets! Just uppercase ones here, for now. Lowercase is going to have to wait until .... some time not today, because my time to cake my hands with Mod Podge and drink Diet Coke is up.
I also slapped together some magnets while I was at it. The hardware stores sell plain black magnets, did you know that? They do. Way in the back corner, hidden. I bought some that were large enough not to be choking hazards, obvi. Do just like you did with the letters, except you do need to cut strips to glue along the edges because exposed black magnet edges won't be pretty.
One other thing. I also bought these adorable flash cards at the bookstore today. (In truth, we left nothing in the children's section of Maria's Bookshop. We just bought it all damn out. Apologies.) I've been looking at them forever but today, inspiration hit. So I grabbed a roll of magnetic strip while we were in the hardware store.....
And voila! Flashcard magnets! Even with the magnet strips on the back they still fit on that little blue ring, so we'll probably put up some kind of hook beside the magnetic wall to keep these on when not in use. But Vivi? She LOVED. Spent all of dinner-prep time calling out the letters and saying the words and being all kinds of genius.