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  • Writer's pictureLolly Palooza

Wooden Blocks Upcycle

Does anyone have any old toy wooden blocks lying around? On one of my thrift store hauls, I came across this set from Melissa & Doug, and I snatched it up:

As you can see, it was missing a few blocks, but that's okay! I wanted to use it as a picture puzzle, only I didn't know what picture to use at the time. Then I received my September design team kit from Aunty Vera Scrap and Craft, and it is an underwater theme (we call it "SEA You In the Craftroom"). The paper collection is by Echo Park, called Under the Sea, and it had this paper in it:

BINGO! I knew I wanted to use that for my puzzle. I arranged all the blocks smooth side up and measured how much of the paper I needed to use, going by one inch increments since the blocks could hold one inch squares of paper.

First, I held back the letters S-E-A for use later in the project, then I flipped all the blocks I needed so that the smooth sides were on top. This leaves me room across the top for my SEA letters, and room on the top left corner for some embellishments.

The E and A letters were the same color, so I used acrylic paint to change the A to an aqua color. Then it really stood out! These are perfect toppers for the entire design!

The next step was to paint the wooden box. I used one coat of a light aqua color of acrylic paint, and when dry, I took white acrylic paint and the stencil from the design team kit, and I stenciled bubbles across the top area where there would be no blocks covering the background.

Then it was time to start painting blocks. I noticed that on this image, the background was black toward the bottom of the picture, but it was blue at the top. So I painted the bottom row of blocks black with acrylic paint. When dry, I lightly sanded the edges to give them a distressed look. Then I cut the bottom one inch strip off my paper.

Then I cut that strip of paper into one inch blocks and glued them onto the wooden blocks with one coat of Mod Podge. After drying 20-30 minutes, I sealed the paper with one coat of Mod Podge as well.

But those blocks needed to be painted in varying colors to match the gradation of the black-to-blue in the paper's background. So I lined up all the blocks, and for each row, I custom mixed my paints. The bottom row is black, the next row up is a combination of mostly black with some blue, and then each row after that is an increasing percentage of blue to black, until the top row which is just blue.

I loved this stage -- I was able to work row by row, from the bottom up, cutting one inch strips of paper at a time, and cutting those strips into one inch segments and gluing onto their respective row of blocks. By working one row at a time, I was able to keep track of which paper went onto which block.

This was so exciting -- putting the blocks into the wooden box! It really came together and started getting fun.

I did not glue the blocks in place. This allows the project to be taken apart and reassembled like a puzzle.

For the top area, I added some hession from the kit, the S-E-A letter blocks, some flat back pearls, a mini fishing tackle box, and a seahorse that I cut out of the paper in the kit, using my Cameo PixScan mat. In the end, I was able to clean up the plexiglass cover that came with the box, and it looks great!

Here is the process VIDEO:

and how to use the PixScan mat:

Be sure to stop by Aunty Vera Scrap and Craft and pick up a kit while supplies last. Click on her logo to the right.

Thank you, and I'll "SEA" you later! ~Lolly

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