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Make It : Painted Wood Blocks Tutorial

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Today's guest post was written by our talented friend Erin Jang:

"My nephew, J, adores the NYC subway. His 5th birthday party is tomorrow, and here is something I made for him. I love to make my nephews special gifts for their birthdays. For J's 3rd birthday, I made him a personalized subway map. For his little brother's bagel-themed party last year I made bagel favors, and for another nephew's first birthday I made him his very own board book.

J is obsessed with all things subway and can tell you about every subway line (even the Z and the G!) and which are his favorite stops and where you can transfer to get to where you need to go.

I wanted to give him a set of personalized wooden blocks that featured on the faces: 1. all the subway lines, 2. drawings of his family, 3. his favorite stops, and 4. a drawing of a subway train. I used nine wooden blocks, and you can purchase a set of 10 1 1/2" wooden cubes at www.craftparts.com for less than $5. All you need, really, in addition to these blocks are some paint, paintbrushes, a permanent-ink marker, and a little imagination, and you are set to create something special.

Supplies you will need:

  • painters' tape
  • paintbrushes (make sure you have a small one for detail painting)
  • scissors
  • permanent-ink marker
  • nontoxic gouache or acrylic paint."
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Start with nine 1 1/2-inch wooden cubes (from http://www.craftparts.com).

1 Start with nine 1 1/2-inch wooden cubes (from http://www.craftparts.com).

I started with a rough sketch and list to sort out which subway lines and images would go on each cube face.

2 I started with a rough sketch and list to sort out which subway lines and images would go on each cube face.

Cut strips of painters' tape and adhere to the sides of the cubes so you can paint a clean edge onto each cube face.

3 Cut strips of painters' tape and adhere to the sides of the cubes so you can paint a clean edge onto each cube face.

I painted several of the sides of the wooden cubes the color of the NYC subway lines.

4 I painted several of the sides of the wooden cubes the color of the NYC subway lines.

Once I had the subway colors on the cubes, I used the small detail brush to draw the letters of the subway lines in white and black.

5 Once I had the subway colors on the cubes, I used the small detail brush to draw the letters of the subway lines in white and black.

I wanted some of the faces of the cubes to work as a stackable puzzle. I painted the faces of my nephew's family (J and his little brother, his mom and dad) on four cubes, then shirts and bottoms for each person on other cubes.

6 I wanted some of the faces of the cubes to work as a stackable puzzle. I painted the faces of my nephew's family (J and his little brother, his mom and dad) on four cubes, then shirts and bottoms for each person on other cubes.

I used a permanent-ink marker to draw simple details onto the faces.

7 I used a permanent-ink marker to draw simple details onto the faces.

Here are my nephews, J and his little brother, N.

8 Here are my nephews, J and his little brother, N.

And J's mom and dad.

9 And J's mom and dad.

Then, I wanted to paint the other sides of the wooden cubes to look like subway cars.

10 Then, I wanted to paint the other sides of the wooden cubes to look like subway cars.

It would be cool to make these magnetic so the cubes could connect!

11 It would be cool to make these magnetic so the cubes could connect!

On other faces of the wooden cubes, I featured some of my nephew's favorite subway stops.

12 On other faces of the wooden cubes, I featured some of my nephew's favorite subway stops.

And of course, the rest of the faces of the wooden cubes featured all the letters and numbers of the NYC subway lines.

13 And of course, the rest of the faces of the wooden cubes featured all the letters and numbers of the NYC subway lines.

I picked up this denim drawstring bag at a dollar store; it's the perfect pouch for my gift.

14 I picked up this denim drawstring bag at a dollar store; it's the perfect pouch for my gift.

Thanks so much, Erin! Who knew the MTA had such enthusiastic fans?

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