Inspired by Walt Whitman, Rumi, and John Keats, Mary Oliver was an award winning American poet herself. Having won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, Oliver was mostly renowned for her works of poetry, including her award winning book, “American Primitive.”
As of recently, her quotes have taken Pinterest by storm in various forms of art and inspirational pieces. One of my favorite quotes by Oliver, reads, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” In its simplest context, its a beautiful, thought-provoking quote. Beyond its simplicity, it conjures up feelings of a sentimental past and a hopeful future.
It’s basically perfect in every way, which is why I am obsessed with it and decided it would make the perfect piece of decor in my little one’s bedroom. Naturally, today’s blog post is about how I made my own Mary Oliver inspired Painted Wood Print! Read on, if you would like to make one too.
What you need:
For this project I used my Silhouette Cameo but you could use a Cricut as well. There is an excellent deal available here if you are in the market for a Cameo! Most crafters will already have most of these supplies, but it can get pretty pricey for beginners. If you’re on a budget and/or don’t already own a vinyl cutting machine, feel free to totally bypass this tutorial, and print out these FREE Mary Oliver Printable quotes instead. They’re perfect for an 8×10 frame of your choice.
For this project you will need a 12’x12′ sheet adhesive vinyl, a 12″x12″ or larger wood box sign, milk paint (I prefer Rustoleum) or chalk paint, bristle paint brush, stain (optional), transfer tape, mod podge (optional), polyurethane spray, and of course, your preferred vinyl cutting machine. You will also need to download the free cut file at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Prep
I used Minwax Provincial stain to darken the wood before applying the vinyl, but that is totally optional. Depending on how rough your wood is, you may need to spray a quick coat of clear polyurethane seal which helps the vinyl stick to the wood better. The point of using a clear sealer is to create a non-porous surface for the vinyl to stick to, otherwise it may slide off the wood. Once you’ve sprayed your wood, allow for it to dry – usually an hour in a well-ventilated area. Once dried, check that the surface is smooth, and non-porous. If not, spray it again.
Step Two: Cut
Download this FREE BUNDLE of cut files. You will receive all of the following files to use (free for personal use). Simply choose the file format that works best for you:
- SVG file: Used for Silhouette Design Studio, Cricut Design Space, Inkscape, and Adobe.
- Silhouette Design Document: For Silhouette users only!
- PNG file: File with transparent background for any device.
- JPG file: High quality printable file that can be used on any device.
Open the file in your design software, depending on which vinyl cutter you’re using. Since we will be using transfer tape, there is no need to flip the image. Next, load the vinyl into your machine, and begin cutting. For a more comprehensive guide on how to cut vinyl, please refer to your vinyl cutter’s user manual.
Step Three: Transfer
Once you’ve cut the file out, peel up the corner of your design (the negative space) and pull it away from the backing. You won’t need this piece. You will be left with just the words from the quote.
Instead of lining up each letter one-by-one onto your wood board, I’m going to show you an easier way! Simply apply transfer tape to the top of your vinyl so that the words adhere to the sticky side of the transfer tape. I use a credit card to burnish the letters onto the transfer tape which makes it easier to remove the backing from the vinyl. Once you’ve applied the transfer tape on TOP of the vinyl, remove the backing away from the vinyl. You should be left with just the transfer tape and the cut words.
Next, carefully place the transfer tape on the wood board, properly centering the design. Using a credit card, burnish top of the transfer tape until all of the vinyl is now sticking to the wood. Slowly peel away the transfer tape until only the letters are left behind.
Step Four: Paint
Tip: If your vinyl doesn’t have a good adhesion to the wood, I suggest brushing a light coat of mod podge over the vinyl letters and let dry before painting. This will prevent any bleeding of paint going inside the letters.
Lightly dip the end of your paintbrush’s bristles into the milk or chalk paint. Wipe off any excess paint and begin making light strokes across the board. Continue painting strokes until the wood begins to look whitewashed. Before the paint dries, quickly peel off the vinyl letters using a weeding tool, tip of a sharp knife, or tweezers.
That’s it! Enjoy!
If you’ve tried out this tutorial or need help with any of the steps, please comment below! I would love to hear from you.