Outnumbered: A Tutorial in (Almost Free) Papier Mache Letters (Part 1)

I really love the idea of using unique table numbers as a way of incorporating our personalities into the wedding.

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How adorable is this? / Source: Brooklyn Bride / Photo by Jesse Leake Photography

I originally wanted to do tables relating to our degrees, but I could never come up with enough unique ideas for our number of tables. I’m really just not creative enough for wordplay (as you could probably tell by my awful titles).

Thus, I decided to just use numbers instead. It’s traditional. People won’t get lost. We are really more numbers people anyway. And as a minor subtle nod to the nerdy, we are starting our table count at zero. ;)

I really thought that we would just do picture frames like what a lot of people have done with their tables. However, I really wanted a numbering system that people could see from multiple sides of the table as well as from far away.

Colorful modern wedding 19

Photo by: Marissa Moss Photography on Every Last Detail via Lover.ly

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Image via With this Ring / Photo by Paloma Images / Flowers designed by Rae Florae / Paper products by Flush Designs

The solution? Big block numbers. There have been a lot of wedding that have used these before, so I definitely don’t think I’m being unique. I just really love the look of giant letters and I know I will probably incorporate large letters in other places in our wedding decor.

However due to a couple of different factors, I decided to make my own block numbers:

  1. I’m cheap. (Seriously, three bucks each? That adds up so fast.)
  2. There isn’t a craft store in easy public transportation range that stocks big block letters.
  3. I wanted more customization options.
  4. Have I mentioned I’m cheap?

This is about as cheap as you can get. Many of the supplies here you should have on hand or are often tossed away as trash.

Make your own block number table numbers (part 1): Tutorial originally from Green Zebra Crafts

Supplies

  • Printer
  • Word/Illustrator if you want alternative glyphs
  • Cereal boxes (you can probably get one to two numbers per box)
  • Tape

Optional Supplies

  • Rocks
  • Glue gun/hot glue

Cost = pennies. I just used things I have around the house.

1.) Pick the font you want. I think big block letters are going to make the most sense and will be the easiest. I also recommend picking a font with numbers that have large bases as well—it’ll be a lot more stable that way.

I personally used Storybook like the tutorial, which I think is going to be a great choice for our venue. Swirly but not overly so. I don’t think you have to be stuck to one font, but I thought it was easier. (I admit, I actually used a different font-that-I-don’t-remember’s 8, because I didn’t like Storybook’s 8.)

2.) Make the letter big in a Word document. I used a font size of 500 to get six-inch-ish letters. Optional step: make the text in outline mode (in Word, highlight your text, right click, Font –> Outline; in illustrator, make your text white, and create a stroke that is black). Though not required, I think this step helps dramatically reduce the amount of ink you’re going to use, which I think is worth it.

3.) Print out number and cut it out.

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4.) Trace out number and the mirror image on a cereal box. This way, you will have the same side facing outward. I saved the thin sides as strips for the sides.

5.) Cut out the numbers and long one-inch strips. You could go thicker than one inch, but I probably wouldn’t go too much thinner. I went with one inch mainly because my cereal box had two-inch sides—yup, decision making for the lazy and indecisive.

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6.) Curve the strip around the number and tape in place. I used regular Scotch tape. I think it’s wise to use a lot of tape, and don’t be scared if it looks flimsy at this point. I also recommend you start in the middle of your number and radial outward. This way, it won’t be so awkward as you work and you’ll have the most space.

7.) Optional: Add a weight inside. One of the advantages to creating your own number is that you have ready access to the innards. I wanted to weigh down the numbers to insure that they stand up straight without getting knocked over. The solution: rocks. I went outside to our driveway and picked up some of the larger-sized gravel. I then hot glued the gravel in place to keep it from rocking around (haha, yeah I’m that lame). Use more hot glue than you think you need.

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8.) Tape the other side on. I found that it was easiest to tape opposite ends on and then finish taping up the rest of the cardboard later.

9.) Tada! Enjoy! Cardboard letters that took less than 30 minutes per letter total and are essentially free.

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I have a confession: These numbers had no backs when I took this shot.

Of course this tutorial is only part 1. I still plan on papier mache’ing the numbers to give them a little more strength, and I need to figure out how I want to decorate them. Paint or pretty paper? But that’s another post.

BLOGGER

Mrs. Panda

Location:
Boston, MA
Wedding Date:
June 2013

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  1. Member
    vasfinest 214 posts, Helper bee @ 4:25 pm

    Nice! I think either paint or pretty paper will work good. Now I’m thinking of tackling this project.

  2. Member
    flying_hearts 724 posts, Busy bee @ 4:29 pm

    I love this! I did the exact same thing to make a heart. I’m thinking about wrapping it in yarn but haven’t quite decided. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  3. Member
    PrincessConsuelaBananaHammock 369 posts, Helper bee @ 4:32 pm

    Thanks for another great tutorial Miss Panda. They are going to be great, can’t wait to see how you finish them.

  4. Member
    Mrs. Pony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 5:14 pm

    What a great idea, I’m not going to show Mr. P this since I made him cut all of our letters out of wood (and then had to sand them). I vote pretty paper for no other reason than I like pretty things :)

  5. Member
    Mrs. Sword 1020 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:31 pm

    I admire your drive to save money! Seriously, sometimes I feel so wasteful, but I don’t think I have your patience! I can’t wait to see the final product!

  6. Member
    miss-moxy 223 posts, Helper bee @ 7:49 pm

    paper, itll give texture and it will cover the seams.

  7. Member
    happyface 5777 posts, Bee Keeper @ 9:42 pm

    I think it’s a great idea! And I hope you didn’t have to buy the cereal boxes just for the numbers… because that’s just silly right? LOL

  8. Member
    village_skeptic 1861 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:36 pm

    I LOVE that you made these yourself.

  9. Member
    Mrs. Panda 1329 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:14 am

    @vasfinest: yay! you should, it was really easy

    @flying_hearts: ooh, non letter shapes, that’s a good idea. Seriously, that did not occur to me!

    @PrincessConsuelaBananaHammock: thank you =)

    @Mrs. Pony: yeah, I remember when you showed off your letters, I thought you guys were crazy ;)

    @Miss Sword: You also had a lot more tables than we do. =/ Everything is easier when you only have 7 tables

    @Miss Moxy: I did eventually use paper

    @happyface: nope, we just eat insane amounts of cereal — I go through a box by myself each week. The good part is you can get more than one number per box. However, I may or may not have opened boxes just to get more cereal boxes since I was too impatient to wait until after we finished them though ;) lol

    @village_skeptic: thanks =)

  10. Member
    Mrs. Eagle 2166 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:42 am

    how cool! I vote for paper mache – it will make them stronger for sure!

  11. Member
    September29 1917 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:54 am

    this is absolutely genius!

  12. Member
    Mrs. Gray Wolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 9:40 am

    awesome, easy project – i wouldnt have thought of the rocks! and you’re too punny.

  13. Member
    Mrs. Toadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 4:16 pm

    This is an awesome idea, not just for table numbers, but for different things around the house.

  14. Member
    jacofblues 1468 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:34 am

    Wow these looks amazing! So easy!

  15. Guest
    mmocheats, Guest @ 8:21 am

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