Mitch Tegtmeier and his wife, Erin, are both teachers. Naturally, they go all out in making Valentine card boxes for their three boys, Talon (5), Will (3) and Boston (10 months).
“I try to come up with something new and fresh every year for the boys to top the previous year,” Tegtmeier said. “I always give them some input as to what they would like their boxes to be. This year our older two boys are really into KU basketball, and we never miss a game. So they said they wanted Kansas basketball jerseys!”
After the boys picked out their favorite players for their boxes, Tegtmeier started brainstorming some ideas.
“I had a mental image of how I wanted these to finish, so I started drawing lines and chopping up some boxes. I spray painted the boxes and called in my brother, Ben for help. He’s a professional graphic designer, and he helped me cut and lay the vinyl.”
Once they were finished, the kids couldn’t contain their excitement.
“They wanted to play with the boxes right away. We had to hide them so that they at least made it until Valentine’s day.”
What happens when you combine 18 cases of red, white, blue, and yellow gift bows, a couple of glue guns and a fabulous group of volunteers? You get a giant display of Jayhawk spirit. Quite literally!
In early August, the decorations committee for the Jayhawk Roundup, led by decorations chair Chris Jeter, gathered at Murfin Stables to work on an oversized “bow mural.” The project will grace the corner of the arena and provide a photo background for the annual event, held on October 2, 2015, in Wichita. This year’s theme is “Happy Birthday KU,” celebrating the 150th birthday of the University of Kansas.
Members of the committee helping that day were Chris and Lori Jeter, Jim Burgess, Jerry and Lucy Burtnett, Bob and Kay Blinn, Camille Nyberg, Margaret Lafferty, Danielle Hoover, and Susan Younger.
The mural was fairly easy to create, so we wanted to share it with you so you can make your own. This technique would be perfect for a high school spirit wall, a grade school art project, or for anywhere you want to make a really big visual impact.
To start off, you will need to create your image on a grid, and if you are familiar with cross stitch embroidery, the idea is basically the same. For the Jayhawk head, the graphic was placed underneath a grid and then filled in with colored dots to bring up the pattern. The more detailed the image you wish to create, the larger the mural should be. (Each dot coordinates with the color of the bow, and gray is used here to represent white). Our mural ended up measuring approximately 6 1/2 feet tall by 11 feet wide. With a grid like this, it’s easy to determine the bow position, and the number of bows needed. The black lines running every six columns represents each mural panel, as explained in Step 2.
For our base paper, we used a brown kraft paper, and the color really helped our white bows pop. Our kraft roll is 24″ wide, so we divided the grid into the appropriate number of columns. (See black lines on the grid, indicating each column). Measure six 3-1/2 inch squares starting from the left edge, and leave the remaining 3″ to the right, so you can glue the panels together to make the complete mural. If your paper is thin, reinforce the back with packing tape. The kraft paper is surprisingly strong, but reinforcing helps strengthen the paper.
We left room for a sleeve at both the top and the bottom, and will thread a PVC pole through the sleeves to stiffen the mural and make it easier to hang. (We also left 12 inches at the top and bottom as blank space above and below the bows).
Draw out the entire grid on your paper, and then label it so you can follow the grid, such as “row 1, column 1,” “row 1, column 2,” and so on. To cut down on confusion and make the process easy for a group, use paint markers to indicate the color in each square.
Package bows work really well for this project. They’re fun and the texture adds to the effect, and in this case, the bows fit our birthday theme. We used 4″ confetti bows from Papermart, which have a variety of strong colors and great case prices.
Use a glue gun with a hot glue setting. It’s important to use hot glue, because it helps grip the fibers of the paper better. (Avoid using cold glue guns). Draw an “X” of glue in the square, and affix your bow. You don’t need to remove the paper covering the sticky pad on the back of the bow. In fact, that sticker is too weak to use, so just glue right over it. You want to make sure that you draw a large enough “X” so that the glue grips parts of the bow, and not just in the center over the sticker. Lightly smash the bow down as you glue it to make sure it grips the hot glue well. (Don’t worry, the bow will pop right back up).
Once all your panels are finished, lay them flat together to make sure your design looks right. The left side of each panel should line up with the blank space on the right side of your panel. Glue the panels together with tacky glue. When the glue is dry, reinforce the panels on the back with packing tape. If you are going to store the mural for a bit, don’t glue the panels together until you are ready to hang it, and keep the panels flat while storing them. This will help prevent warping, and cover them with plastic tarps to keep the moisture out.
And that’s all there is to it! If you would like to make your own mural of the Jayhawk, feel free to borrow our grid diagram. We’d love to see examples of your own creations, so be sure to post them on the Association’s Facebook page.
You may have noticed the cover of the July, 2014 issue of Kansas Alumni magazine, which featured bright, sunny porch steps stacked with colorful “books.” The library consisted of hand-painted bricks and pavers painted to look like old books featuring KU authors and other classics. If you are into crafty projects, you may have seen this popular idea online. Google “book bricks” and you’ll find more tutorials and how-to videos. In fact, our Associate editor, Chris Lazzarino, first spotted this idea, and we thought it would be fun to do. The bricks make great bookends, garden art, or even a nice focal point on a windowsill or shelf.
The books are fairly easy—the hardest part may be deciding your favorite classics— and can be made by anyone. If you don’t feel up to hand-painting the lettering, you can use alphabet stickers found at most craft stores. We kept our books simple, decorating only the spine, which is really all that shows if you choose to use them as bookends. Painting on bricks is a rough endeavor, so embrace the imperfections and don’t strive for perfect lines!
Here’s the easy step-by-step tutorial:
Step 1:Bricks and Pavers
Gather old bricks if you can find them, or buy an assortment of pavers from a garden or home improvement store. If you are using old bricks that have a little bit of moss on them, first soak them in a light solution of water and bleach (about 1/4 cup to 1 gallon of water), and then scrub them to remove the moss. Let the bricks dry several hours or overnight. If you are using pavers that you have just bought, they tend to be dusty so rinse them off well and let them dry several hours or overnight.
For other supplies, you will need acrylic paint, brushes, blue painters masking tape, tracing paper, and computer printouts of book titles (or use alphabet stickers for the lettering). You can use inexpensive paint for this project. In fact, the liquid acrylic that you can buy in bottles at the craft store are perfect for this. You also need to have an assortment of brushes on hand, from wide flat brushes, to small narrow brushes for lettering. Use bristle brushes—foam brushes will not hold up against the surface of the brick.
Step 3:Base coat
Paint your bricks and pavers with a white coat of paint. This helps seal in the porous surface, and will help you get even coverage when you apply more coats of color.
Step 4:“Pages” To created weathered-looking pages, paint three edges with an off-white or cream paint. Add a second coat. When the paint is mostly dry, use a darker tan and with a long narrow brush, paint lines along the pages. Broken lines work well, and we are going for a rough, weathered look here, so wiggle the brush and don’t worry that the lines aren’t straight. Add additional lines with white paint to achieve the look.
Step 5:Book Covers Make sure the paint on the “page” area is thoroughly dry, and then tape over the edge, leaving a margin for the book cover. (Be sure to press the tape down on the edges well.) Paint your book with a solid color, adding two coats. Add a little black paint to your book color, and add the deeper tone to cracks and creases in the brick. Use a wet paper towel to blend the dark color in and wipe away the paint that is not in the cracks. Next, add a little white for highlights to the cover. This is easy to do with “finger-painting.” Dip your finger in a little paint, wipe most of it off on newspaper or a paper towel, and then lightly rub across your book. Adding the deeper tones and highlights help give the book a bit of dimension.
Step 6:Spine and Details The next step is to embellish the spine. Add panels for the book titles, stripes, and symbols. Most publishers used a small symbol or brand on their spines, and adding a small embellishment to mimic this can add to the effect. When the book is completely dry, remove the tape that protected the “page” part of the book. Even if your page paint was thoroughly dry when you taped it, you may remove some paint when you strip off the tape. Don’t worry about this, the random spots will add to the aged look of your books, or you can go back and touch up with paint if you prefer.
Step 7:Lettering We printed out book titles from the computer, and then traced them onto the books before we hand-lettered them. You can totally wing it if you feel comfortable, or you can use small alphabet stickers. (Stickers not recommended if you will use these books outdoors). For help with hand-lettering, have a good tracing paper to transfer the title. Speedball’s “Mona Lisa” tracing paper has dark carbon, and it shows up well on the rough surface of the brick or paver. Tape a piece of tracing paper in place, and then trace your printout. The result will be rough because of the surface of the brick, but it should give you enough to go on. Carefully paint your lettering, dark paint on light surfaces, and light paint on dark surfaces. Don’t worry if your lettering is rough, it just adds to the charm!
Paint a “drop shadow” to the left of the letters, which will help the title pop a bit. If you want, add the title to the front of the book as well, especially if you plan to use the books as pavers in a garden.
Use a very rough sandpaper (we used 60 grit), to sand along the edges and rough up the bricks. If desired, drag the sandpaper across random areas to remove paint.
And that’s it! Have fun making your own colorful library of brick “books.” Recreate your favorite childhood stories, plan a themed collection for a boy or a girl, or decorate a windowsill near your favorite reading nook. These would also look great edging a garden area. If you plan to use them outside, you might want to coat them with a matte-finish spar varnish so that the paint will last longer. Have fun and be sure to send us photos of your “new” books.
—Susan Younger, Creative Director
Photograph of books on steps by Steve Puppe,