I’m a big fan of word art. Not the “Keep Calm and …” type, but monograms, subway art, and other typeography art. I’ll be featuring several of these projects here, so hopefully you like them too. Before the holidays I was seeing a lot of things done with loose change on Pinterest. I was most interested in the letters made of pennies and nickels.
The hardest part was figuring out what word to do. The example I had seen from The Crafted Sparrow was “EAT” which I liked, but I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to put it in the kitchen. My husband and I did a little brainstorming while we were in the car one day. (He wonders how he gets roped into my projects!) He wanted to do “SHINY” for “shiny penny” since we say that a lot about my 4 year old son’s attention span some days. I got a good laugh out of it, but I didn’t think it fit with the decor of our house. We landed on using “HOME”. I liked this because my first name is an “E” and last name starts with “H” so if I ever decided to dismantle, I’d still get some use out of the project. Other words that were in the running: Love, Lucky, Wine, Family, our last name.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to do pennies or nickels, so I tried both. I’m showing examples and supplies based on pennies, but at the end I’ll show you my attempt with nickels.
- Paper Mache letters: I used 8″ letters I bought at Joann’s
- Bronze Metallic Paint: I used a combo of Craft Smart brand Bronze and Brown
- Craft glue
- Modge Podge: Shiny finish (or you could use a spray finish)
- Foam brush(es): you could just use one, but I prefer not to have to wait for them to dry.
Since I wanted to use both new and older pennies, I chose to mix two paints together so that I didn’t have a perfect shiny bronze finish on my undercoat showing through the pennies. If you were using all new pennies, you could just use the bronze paint.
Painting the letters: I mixed the bronze and brown together 4 to 1. Then painted 2 coats front back and sides of all the letters with this mix. After the letters dried (which goes pretty quickly), I still felt the finish was a little too perfect, so I went over all the letters with a thin, somewhat streaky coat of the brown metallic paint.
Laying out your pennies: Try laying out your pennies without the glue first, so you can check spacing and get the mix right if you’re doing old and new pennies. I used fronts and backs and did an overlay row.
Gluing your pennies down: I took mine off row by row and glued them back on, so that I kept all the spacing even. This seemed to save a lot of headaches in the long run. I put a somewhat generous dot of craft glue on the back of each penny and spread it out to almost the edges. You don’t really want extra glue to squeeze out after you’ve laid down your pennies.
Finish Coat: After your glue dries, go over everything using a thin coat of shiny finish Modge Podge. You could also use a clear spray finish. No matter how many times I use Modge Podge, I get a little nervous that it won’t dry clear, but it does. If there were any spots in between pennies where it pooled up, I tried to thin it out by using a q-tip. It probably would have been fine, but I didn’t want to take chances.
Let dry, and that’s it!
Nickels: I did try using nickels, but they didn’t lay out as nicely on the 8″ letters. Because we picked bronze hardware for our newly painted espresso cabinets, I also liked the way the pennies looked. Nickels obviously make the cost of your project go up too. I’d be open to trying them again on bigger letters though.
Hanging or Standing Up: If you want to hang them on the wall, brackets will work fine. You can glue them on the back with hot glue. You’ll probably need something stronger if you’re using bigger letters. If you plan to set them on a shelf or you want them freestanding, they will be a little front heavy and you will need to prop them with some sort of stand behind them or affix them to something on the bottom. I did the latter when I put them on top of my kitchen cabinets. I used a small base of wood that would be hidden behind the top part of the cabinet. I used packing tape to adhere them to the wood to try them out on top of the cabinets, but I will permanently affix them with a staple gun and some glue.