Lightboxes are so popular at the moment. At just $22 (NZD) from Kmart, they are super affordable and add a touch of personalisation and fun to any nursery. Or living room. Or office. Or bedroom. Or anywhere!
When I purchased my lightbox from Kmart I was a little disappointed with the number of letters. The most annoying part was there was only one letter ‘b’!! I mean, come on – how am I meant to write cute, witty phrases with only one ‘b’? But instead of buying another set of letters (which I haven’t actually seen at my local Kmart) I decided to make my own custom, D.I.Y. lightbox letters. It is way easier than you think!
I went hunting for overhead projector sheets (remember those?) Of course I couldn’t find them – turns out no one uses them any more, ha ha. So instead I picked up these clear (avoid frosted) plastic binding covers from Warehouse Stationery (around $12 NZD for a pack of 25). I chose the medium protection as opposed to the thicker, heavy protection as I wanted to be sure they would go through the printer ok.
I created a Microsoft Word document with the letters and images I wanted to print. You could do this in many different ways however this is what worked for me:
- I first created a table with 8 rows and 4 columns and set the row height at 6.5cm. This was to ensure that the letters are were the perfect height to slide in to the Kmart Lightbox.
- I made the borders of the table a light grey so that I had lines to use for cutting but I didn’t want thick black borders around the letters.
- I entered a letter in each of the cells of the table. Some letters were wider than others so some cells I needed to merge to ensure they weren’t cut off. I centred the letters vertically and horizontally and made them as large as possible without having to increase the row height.
Printing! I used a HP Deskjet 2540 – yip, a very budget home printer.
My tips for printing:
- DO NOT USE A LASER PRINTER! These get way too hot and you will end up with a melted mess wrapped around one of the rollers. I may or may not be speaking from experience…
- Feed one sheet at a time. The sheets are very statically charged and stick together.
- DO NOT TOUCH THE INK ONCE PRINTED. I know it is tempting but because you are printing on plastic, the ink is not absorbed like it is with normal paper so you will end up with a smeared mess and ink all over your fingers. Handle the sheets very carefully by the corners.
- Leave the sheets somewhere safe and out of the way for at least 48 hours. Maybe longer. These things take FOREVER to dry!
I cut each letter out carefully. I found the easiest method was to put the printed sheet on a plain white piece of paper so that I could see the faint borders of the table then use a steel ruler and a craft knife. I like the Fiskars Finger Tip Swivel Knife.
Et voilà! Your very own custom made, D.I.Y. lightbox letters! And you don’t have to stop at letters. You can create images, logos, symbols – anything you can imagine.
Just a few last notes:
- I found that thick black or bold lines don’t print well. The font I chose above worked well because it has a distressed quality.
- Light colours don’t show up well at all.