Measuring Up...

My niece and nephews are growing so fast!

And I'm really, really behind on blogging. Oh well.

I mentioned way back at Thanksgiving how I was so excited about the kids' Christmas gifts... which got done in time, but I just haven't had a chance to write about them! I still love how they turned out, so I'll take this opportunity to share them with you now. They're appropriate for the Back to School season as well, so umm... awesome! 

Giant height rulers!

Sorry for the crummy pic... there's a lot less ambient light in winter!

What's more iconic to starting a new school year than buying school supplies? Or maybe you remember starting each new school year by making a mark in your door frame to show how much you grew over summer...

This project combines both of those back-to-school memories into a cute, colorful keepsake.

Ok, so the idea for this is not originally mine, but I put a fun twist on them that makes them unique and fitting for each kiddo. Here are a few examples that I found on Pinterest before I started working on them.

Ironic that Jackson was in this bunch...


Clearly, all this project requires is some wood, a little bit of stain and paint, and some patience. And ideally more than a week to make all three. Ha ha. 

I bought three 6-foot lengths of 1x8 Aspen wood from Menard's. I chose this because it was pre-sanded and wrapped in protective plastic (less work is good...), and it also had really nice grain to it and wasn't terribly expensive. I decided to cut a foot off the ends of each piece, since I figured that by the time any of the kiddos is taller than 5 feet, they'd probably be "too old" to care about how fast they're growing. Also, I can use the extra wood for other stuff! 

I started with Liam's ruler. His room is pastel safari themed right now, but I just know that race cars will eventually sneak their way in, as his dad is really into cars. I chose to make his ruler grey (LOVE grey stain) with blue, orange and green racing stripes. Kind of pastel, yet still sort of race car... I figured that would be a good mix of color that would stand the test of time for him.

Oooooooh... pretty!

After the piece of wood was stained, I started by painting the background design. This one was relatively simple; just a few pieces of painter's tape placed at an angle with varying sized areas between them. Each open area was painted with one of the three accent colors.

Of course, the ruler needed to be personalized! I chose a fun italic font that looked kind of "race car-y" and printed LIAM in large letters, cut them out and traced them onto the upper edge of the ruler. The letters were also painstakingly painted with several coats.

After the design was dry, I masked out the increments on the ruler; large lines for the numbers (1-4), medium lines for the 6 inch marks, and small ones for each inch in between. I think taping these up took the most time out of the whole project, but I wanted to make sure the lines were nice and crisp, so I spent the time to do it.

Side note: I suppose one could make a ruler stretch to 5.5 feet or more by starting to number the lines lower; this way the ruler would need to be mounted a certain number of inches off the floor. I wanted these to be flexible enough to move wherever, so I started the bottom of the ruler at one inch.

I then went through with a paint brush and craft paint, adding several coats to each taped-out mark so they were nice and bright. I then carefully removed the tape when the paint was almost completely dry.

Next, I cut out some number stencils. I like using nice fonts instead of classic stencils (although those would work too!), so I had printed some out at about 2" tall. I traced these onto the wood, placed next to the large marks on the scale. These were then painted with more craft paint and a small brush- again, with several coats to make the color nice and rich... and ta-da! A really cute way to keep track of  growth spurts!

Jackson's ruler was John Deere themed... it was a hard choice for this one between Brewers baseball and the green and yellow tractor brand, but I think this turned out great. It could also go Packers with the color scheme.

The wood for this ruler got my classic "color wash" treatment; I had Menard's color-match John Deere green into one of their little sample jars of paint (which was more than enough for this project), then mixed it up with water to get the stain effect. I'm thinking the ratio was somewhere around 30% paint and 70% water, but this is flexible depending on how intense you want the color. I just applied it with a rag, as you would with regular wood stain.

I then used a bright yellow and the straight-up John Deere green paint to add a design that resembled the markings on a tractor... I think it works! It's vaguely reminiscent of the brand, but not so close that it wouldn't fit with any theme.

As for the little lady's ruler, it had to be pink! I color washed the background with a very light grey and added a pretty chevron pattern in light pink, bright pink and a darker grey. The scripty font I chose for her name looks intricate, but I think it was actually easier to paint than the others because it didn't have many straight lines or corners.

Hey, at least it matches the carpet! :)
This was such a fun project! I kind of want to make more... but I'll need to use some other kids for inspiration. What do you think?


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