Feature phonetics

P: On the featured hanging, various size washers from the hardware store were glued to the fabric to fill in the traced letter outline. Be sure to use a glue that works with metal if you opt for this filled technique. Other fill-in options could be flat buttons or various sizes of premade ribbon bows or flowers.

There are almost as many ways to use them as there are vowels and consonants in the alphabet. We’re talking about decorating with letters — the dimensional type found at craft stores.

Whether you purchase letters that are made from papier-mache, resin, metal, cardboard or wood, artistic opportunities abound for personalizing any room in your home.

Spell check

One common option is to spell words with your letters. For example, on the kitchen wall you could showcase E-A-T; on the mantel, D-O-G with a pic of your favorite canine framed in the center; J-O-Y or HO-HO-HO during the holidays; and in the craft room, S-E-W or Q-U-I-L-T. With a group of wedding photos, perhaps an I-D-O, and on a back porch or deck, spell P-L-A-N-T or B-B-Q. Children’s rooms are a great place to spell their names or simply show a large initial, or for that matter, decorate a wall with the entire alphabet in different typefaces.

Decorating with letters can be an educational tool as well, as youngsters learn the alphabet and to spell simple words. And numbers are also available for pairing with the letters.

Location, location

Whether you work with a single letter or several, there are many ways to show them off.

Mounting letters directly on the wall is one option. Some letters have hangers on the underside; others have a recessed area suitable for nails or picture hangers.

Lining up letters on a mantel, shelf, bookcase or railing is yet another option. Most letters can stand on their own, though some are curved on the bottom (like C, J, S, etc.) and will need to prop or lean on another to stand as opposed to standing independently on their own, although a strip of double-stick tape can help. Dimension letters, particularly the heavier ones, can also be used as bookends.

Hanging letters is a way to handle those without flat lower edges. Add a hanging loop of ribbon or cord and mount on a decorative picture hanger or wall peg. If you’re mounting an initial on your front door, use a loop of clear fishing line attached to the letter and an over-the-door hanger.

Type hype

Letters come in every shape and size you can imagine and in fonts from formal to frilly. Look for both uppercase and lowercase characters, as well as some punctuation marks.

A walk down the aisles of your favorite craft store will offer many options at reasonable prices. Some letters are already finished, in that they’re painted or otherwise embellished, but the vast majority are in a D-I-Y state, ready for your handiwork to personalize them.

Finish with finesse

Depending on the type of letters you purchase, there are myriad ways to personalize them. One of the easiest is simply to paint them. Use a paint recommended for the material the letter is made from, and create solid color, or more interest with stripes, dots or other patterning. Stencils can be used in conjunction with paint to add a pattern, either individual motifs or allover. Painting works great on wood and resin letters, and those with indentations or other textures. Remember, there are a multitude of paint options, from flat finish, to glitter and mirror paints, and those that glow in the dark.

Covering the letter form is another option. Think scrapbooking paper, gift wrap, wallpaper, or even the comics from the Sunday paper. Think about covering letters with maps showing the destination of a vacation trip.

Fabric is an ideal medium to cover letters, using either a wrapping method, or cutting shapes to match the letter surfaces. It can be applied with fabric glue, or with fusible webs that back the pieces and are activated with the heat of an iron. This technique works only on letters that can take the heat and that have fairly flat surface to allow for heat setting.

Decoupage family or pet photos onto letter shapes using a product like Modge Podge to cover and protect the images.

Decorative duct tape or Washi tapes can be used to entirely cover letters, or add stripes or cutout shapes to flat lettering surfaces.

Adding glue to the mix offers a whole host of other decorating options. Add flowers, leaves, moss, buttons, corks, beads, pearls, rhinestones or other embellishments to either cover the letter surface or as accents over another decorative treatment.

It’s a wrap

One common way to embellish letter forms is to wrap them with colorful yarn, twine, rope, cord, ribbons or fabric strips. These wraps can be combined with other techniques, such as painting or glued-on decor. For example, a painted letter could be partially wrapped with yarn as an accent.

To wrap, simply anchor the end of the wrapping material on the underside of the letter. Put strips of glue on the right side of the letter to hold the wrapped material in place. When wrapping is complete, anchor the end of the wrapping material on the underside of the letter with glue. If piecing is needed, glue ends together on the back side as well.

Photo framing

The closed shape of some letters, like A, B, D, O, P and Q, makes them perfect for also serving as a photo frame. Once you’ve embellished your letter, size a photo to fit the opening and glue-mount the picture behind the letter for instant framing.

Canvas cues

If freestanding letters aren’t your cup of tea, think about showcasing letters on stretched fabric panels. Mount the background fabric on stretcher bars, stapling it tautly to the underside. Then create a letter on the front panel. How?

Use a stencil or print from your computer to get a pattern for the letter, or simply draw it freehand. There are several websites, like printablemono gram.com, with fonts and type you can print for free. If the hanging is for a child’s room, perhaps let them draw it themselves. If you need a large letter, ask the copy store to enlarge something for you.

Transfer the design to the mounted fabric and embellish. Most of the same options will work on this flat medium just as they do on the dimensional letters.

— Reporter: gwizdesigns@aol.com