Monograms – I love them and now that it is Autumn and time to change the decor on my front door, I wanted to make a monogram cutout to go on my Fall wreath. I bought the best plywood, got a new scroll saw blade and set to work – after two failed attempts – all those thin curlicue areas were way too hard to cut… I gave up. Then I asked myself, “Why don’t I do this the way I know best… in my own style.
As many of you know I used to work as a display designer. In a day in the life of this profession I had to make lots of lettering, logos, and other decorative stuff – I did it all with foam or FomCor boards and a hot wire cutting machine. Since I no longer work in display and don’t have access to such a machine anymore, I found the next best thing to cut Foam Cor is a very sharp craft knife and/or a Hot Knife. Unlike a foam cutter, a Hot Knife is made to cut easily through the paper that sandwiches the foam, too.
So after two failed attempts of trying to make a wood monogram that took me all afternoon, in less than 1 hour I had not one, but two monograms cut out and it cost me only $2.00
I made one white.
The second one I added a pattern to. I am not sure what I am going to do with it yet – probably frame it, but I did want to experiment to see if it could be done.
Anyone can make these even if you don’t have Photoshop on your computer – plus no power tools are needed.
- Dollar Store Foam Board $1.00
- Monogram enlargement – $1.99
- Craft knife and replacement blades
- Optional – Hot Knife
- Transfer paper
- Colored Pen or pencil
- Glass or craft cutting mat
- Computer and monogram lettering printout
How To Create Your Own Monogram on a Computer
If you have a computer and printer then you can create your monogram easily. You have three options that I know of – 1. Photoshop or Photoshop Elements 2. Microsoft Publisher 3. The old-fashioned way – cut and paste. I will explain how to do this further down in the post.
No matter which method you choose, you will need to download a monogram style font.
For this tutorial I am using PSE.
1. Make your center letter 600 points using Monogram KK font. For the left and right letters use 450 point size.
2. In a separate layer in PSE or a separate text box if using Microsoft Publisher add your first letter using 450 pt. size type. In another layer or text box add the last letter – 450 pts. You should be able to move each letter around on your screen by themselves. If not –delete the letters that are connected and create it again in its own layer or text box.
3. Move the letters so that they are evenly spaced and lined up. Make them bold – which helps give the curlicue areas a bit more thickness – helps when cutting.
Print it to fill a 8 x 10 sheet of printer paper.
4. Take your printed monogram to a copy shop. I went to Office Max. For $1.99 they made me an enlarged copy to my exact size specs – which was 18-inches wide. You can have it sized as big or small as you want. It is on a vinyl sheet so it can be used over and over again.
How To Make the Monogram Using The Old-Fashioned Cut and Paste Method:
If you don’t have a program on your computer where you can create separate letters and then put them together in an image, you will have to do it the old-fashioned way. In your word processer, create your 3 letters using the sizes mentioned above. Print each one out. Lay the center letter face up. Cut the other two letters out. You don’t have to be exact – just make sure not to cut the actual letters. White paper can be left on the outer sides of the letters. Lay each letter down on either side of the center letter. Arrange and then use a glue stick to attach to the center letter.
How to Transfer the Monogram onto Foam Board
You will need transfer paper. They sell it at crafts stores. Martha Stewart sells it along with her paints. Just ask if you can’t find it.
1. Lay your foam board on a cutting surface – glass or a crafters cutting mat work the best. On top of that lay the transfer paper – graphite side down. (My paper was smaller than my image so I pieced it together with tape to get one large piece of transfer paper.) Place your enlarged monogram on top of the paper. Tape it to the foam board so it won’t move.
2. With a colored pen, trace around the image. Trace your line right outside the letter – not on it. This bit of extra space will keep your monogram to size. If you trace right on the edges of the letters – when you cut it – you will lose some of the letter. ( I used a different color pen or pencil for each new monogram I made. This way I can see where I traced around all the letters completely. )
Note: My center letter H has a pretty thin center. I made it larger when I was tracing. If your center letter has a thin part like this – beef up the line thickness in that area as you trace. If it is too thin your monogram will break apart.
3. After tracing around all the letters, remove the copy and transfer paper from the foam board. You should be left with your traced letters.
4. Plug in a hot knife or use a craft knife with a very sharp blade. Have extra blades ready. I like the knives that allow you to snap off the dull blade and expose a new one quickly. When cutting out the two monograms I made, I changed my knife blade 3 times to make sure I got nice clean edges with every cut. I only used the hot knife to get around some of the tighter curves. I did not change that blade.
5. It should look like this after you cut. On some cuts the corners can be stubborn. If necessary – flip the foam over and you will see the cut lines of the area you are working on cutting out. Place the knife blade into the corner areas where the cut did not go through all the way to cut the back paper. Dollar Store foam is easier to cut as the paper that sandwiches the foam is not a thick as brand name FomCor.
After you are finished, trim any raised edges carefully. I had a few around curved areas.
To hide the smudge marks and transfer lines I sprayed my cut out with a few very light coats of white spray paint. Normally you cannot spray paint foam, but if you just do the top – it will be fine.
If you want to paint it a color –including the sides which will be white, I would use craft paint. Depending on the quality of the foam board – the paint may warp the board. I have painted tons of foam boards and have discovered that the thinner ones have to be weighed down as they dry. We did this by pinning the boards down with straight pins into the work surface.
Hang it up. I looped orange ribbon through one of the loops on the center letter and tied it around the top of the wreath.
I wanted mine for my front door and know that hanging it outside will shorten its life, as it is only made of thin foam. Inside – yes, it will last a long time. My front door is exposed to all the elements – no roof over it. Everything, including the door – takes a beating from the elements – especially the wind. I have lost lots of wreaths, bows, and decorations over the years. To help this stay put and straight – I tied the bottom of the left and right letters with clear fishing line to the wreath.
How to Add a Pattern to Your Monogram
I made two monograms. After I cut out the first, I used that as a template and traced a few more onto dollar store foam boards for future use – like a Christmas wreath. The second one I covered with a decorative paper napkin. I found the pack of napkins at Michaels in the clearance aisle.
1. Gently remove the 2-ply paper backing from the napkins. Spray the monogram with spray adhesive – let it get tacky – about 2 minutes. Place the napkin over one half of the monogram. Smooth with your fingers. Repeat with a second napkin on the other side making sure to line up the pattern.
2. Flip it over and use a pair of scissors to cut the paper in the open areas. Leave about 1/4- inch of paper all around the letters. I thought this would be harder than it actually was. The paper is very thin so it was easy to form to the letters. Cut tabs into the paper to make it easy to fold over to the back of the letters. Once you have it all cut out – it does not have to be neat. Spray a light coating of spray glue over the back. Wait until it gets tacky and then, with your fingers, smooth the excess paper that you cut into tabs to the back of the monogram.