Maybe Matilda: Rustic ‘Love’ Letters

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rustic ‘Love’ Letters

That title kind of makes it sound like this post is about the sort of letters lovers send each other, doesn’t it? As for the rustic part . . . maybe they are very outdoorsy types? And the letters are composed in a cabin in the woods somewhere? I’m sorry to disappoint you, but these rustic love letters aren’t those rustic love letters. I’m talking about these ones:

Rustic 'Love' Letters from Maybe Matilda

I made these to go with my neutral, rustic Valentine’s display, and I really like how they came out. Although I can appreciate and enjoy Valentine’s décor that screams glittery red-and-pink greetings in your face, I wanted something a little softer for my place. This little display only cost a few dollars, it’s going to be reusable for Christmas next year by switching out a letter, and it’s not too traditionally loud for Valentine’s day, I could definitely get away with using it year-round as regular décor. Win-win-win.

To make these letters, I just picked up a few items from Hobby Lobby—a mini-twig wreath to stand in as the ‘o’ (it was $2.50 if I remember correctly), and a few paper mache letters (also $2.50 each, but wait for them to go on sale before you buy—they were 30% off when I bought them a week or two ago!). I picked up an L, V, and E, as well as an N. That way, I can scramble the letters/wreath to make ‘Noel’ to use in Christmas displays next year. Smart, eh? I have my moments.

How to make rustic faux-distressed 'Love' letters

Now, back when I was searching for a nice gray wall color for my house, I bought something like a dozen gray sample paints. So I just popped out one of those tiny sample size paints to use on my letters. It’s a very soft gray, but mostly reads as white, which is fine. Go ahead and paint your letters.

DIY 'Love' Letters for Valentine's Day

(Don’t you paint on your stovetop?)

Now, I wanted them to have a rustic ‘worn’ look. But sanding paint off a paper mache letter to get that distressed look didn’t seem brilliant to me. I don’t know, maybe it would work fine, but I wasn’t willing to try it and potentially ruin my super-expensive $2.50 – 30% off letters. So I tried a different route. I just grabbed some brown craft paint, got the teeniest tiniest bit on my brush, and ‘flicked’ it over the edges of the letters to make them look worn out and distressed.

Faux-Distress Painted Letters

I’m not sure how best to describe this. Just make sure there’s not much paint on your brush (I barely dipped it into the paint, then dabbed most of it off onto a piece of paper so it was just barely barely barely moist with paint), placed the brush right on the edge of the letter and ‘flicked’ it forward/upward. It’ll give it a sort of bristly, worn-off, splattery look. The important points here, I learned by sad experience, are to 1) make sure there is not much paint on your brush—too much paint and it’ll look sloppy instead of shabby chic, and 2) if you make a mistake, just forget it and keep going. You’ll do more harm by trying to rub it off and reapply than by just moving on. Really.

How to faux distress letters with paint

By focusing your faux-distress painting around the corners, it’ll look more natural, so go a little heavier around the corners and a little lighter on the other edges.

I used a tiny picture frame easel/plate stand thing to prop up the ‘O’ and just pulled the sides open a little wider so they’d essentially be hidden by the ‘O’. It worked out just fine. There you have it!

How to make a rustic 'love' sign


  1. Fancy pants! They totally look old and vintage. I like!

  2. This is gorgeous! I'm mid-unpacking into a new house at the moment and can't wait to have everything in its place so I can get started on some homely touches like this! =)

  3. That looks really good. I love how that distressing technique worked out!!

  4. I like the way you did them! And they do really look old and rustic! :) Have a happy Wednesday! xo Holly

  5. I love them. I totally thought I wasn't going to decorate this year with a 5 month old and all. But now. Now I will make love letters :o)

  6. Wow, love the letters. At first I thought they were wood because of the distressing you did. Thanks for sharing, Carolyn

  7. I really like the distressing around te edges. I always wuss out and don't distress even though I love the look. I think it's that I'm afraid ill mess up. Now I need to distress some letters. I actually have some that are already painted so I may try it.

  8. Criminy Matilda, I can't keep up with you and all your posting.

    These turned out great! I agree with Woodward, I love the distressing. Definitely adds the extra rustic look.

  9. I love love love this! And it's cheap which is AWESOME for me. Always on a budget. Love all your ideas.

  10. greate idea, really love the way made this . Enigmas Hair Studio | Hair Salon NJ


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