St Jude Fundraising 2012

With 2012 in the history books, it’s time to evaluate how my year in art went. I started selling my art to benefit St Jude in April of 2011. To date, I’ve raised over $5,000! The day I decided to sell my art and donate the proceeds to St Jude was enlightening. In one day, I figured out how to do something I truly enjoy while realizing another goal of mine, supporting a worthy cause.

So, 2012 is over. How did the year go? I had two big sales events for the year, the Fall Fest at St Francis, and the MEMShop holiday pop up event with ISM. I nearly achieved my goal of $2500 for the year between those two events alone. On top of those two sales events, I had a large custom order for a wedding earlier in the year. Slow but steady orders throughout the year got me to a total of about $2800. This is a little more than last year, but that was my goal. I would love to keep the trend of more raised year over year, we’ll see how this year goes.

What have I learned this year?

  • There are items that I would love to make that take too much time, and don’t have enough profit. I keep trying with the picture frames. But they are my lowest profit item, and I didn’t sell that many this year. I’m not sure I’ll keep making them
  • I should keep making the things that I like. It is so much easier when it doesn’t feel like work.
  • I may not be charging enough for my work.  I keep making things, and I kind of want them gone as soon as I’m done, so I price them fairly low.  This may be working against me.
  • Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. That was a shocking moment for me when I made something that didn’t have straight lines, and had other imperfections. This was the painting that changed my view on imperfection:


What happens in 2013?

  • I WILL improve my time for the half marathon this year. I plan to lose a bunch of weight so I can walk/run it.  And I’ll raise more money this year than last.
  • I may change things up a bit and split my profits between multiple worthy causes.
  • Bigger paintings!
  • Making the jewelry / mirror wall hangings that keep haunting me.  And charging the right price for them.
  • Social marketing (including this blog) to expand my fan base

Let’s see how things go…

How to Make a Burlap Sign

One of my biggest sellers previously was burlap signs and letters. I don’t make them any more, but that’s all part of the evolution. 🙂

Here’s how I make them (revised):

Making the burlap part:

  1. Start by printing out what you word or letter you want in font you want it in. Note that when you create something in MS Word, you can change the font beyond the options that are available. Like you can manually type in 200 as the font even if it’s not in the list.
  2. Once printed, if it’s really large, you may have to tape the pages together. Note that you can’t go too big with the fonts or you end up with a puzzle in the end and it could be unusable.
  3. Trace the outline of your word or letter with a Sharpie marker.
  4. Iron a piece of burlap that will cover the outline you have created and cut it if necessary so there is plenty of room around your word or letter. Leave some room so you can trim it if needed. Note that if you cut too close to the letter or word, you won’t have any room for error.
  5. Place the outlined paper underneath your ironed burlap.
  6. Trace the outlined word or letter (that you can see through the burlap) with your Sharpie marker. Once complete, you should end up with an outlined word or letter on your burlap.
  7. Leave the paper underneath the burlap and paint inside the outlines using black  acrylic paint. Cover the outlines. Move the painted burlap to a cardboard box or some other surface after painting, but before it’s completely dry, otherwise it will stick to the burlap and you’ll have paper bits on the bottom.
  8.  Set aside.

Preparing the wood:

  1. Using the measurement you’ve determined, cut your wood.  You can buy wood at Home Depot or Lowe’s and ask them to cut it for you if you already know what size you want.
  2. Sand the wood to remove all jagged edges left from cutting.  I use an electric disk sander and usually spend the most time sanding the ends.
  3. Paint the sanded wood with regular paint using the color of your choice.  I typically use two coats of paint.
  4. Sand the painted wood to distress it.  I sand some areas down to the wood to give it a distressed look.
  5. Seal your wood with varnish.  I use a spray varnish.  I know its cheating a bit, but it is easier to clean up for me.

Putting it all together:

  1. Place your burlap on top of your finished wood.  Center your word on the wood and trim around the edges.
  2. If a fringed look is desired, pull some of the threads off of the burlap.
  3. Spray the back of the burlap with spray glue.  Don’t use too much, just enough so that it sticks to the wood.  For smaller signs, this step may not be required, but I eventually started doing this for every size.  On bigger signs, the burlap starts to sag a bit away from the wood.
  4. Using upholstery nails, nail the burlap to the wood.  If you make a mistake in placing the nail, use a knife or something else to pull it back up and re-position it.  Make sure to pull the burlap evenly when placing the nails to avoid any buckling of the burlap.
  5. Once nails are in, use a spray varnish to seal the paint to the burlap and the burlap to the wood.
  6. Nail in a sawtooth hanger to ready your sign for hanging and you’re done!


Read on only if you want to see how much I learned over time…

This is my old method (I stopped using it somewhere along the way as the cutting was just a pain in the butt):

  • Start with paper, pen and a stencil.  I like to use letters that are about 3 1/2 inches tall.  The size of the letter matters as it dictates the size of the wood required.
  • Draw a line on the paper with a pen.
  • Stencil your letters using the line as a guide.  Remember to evenly space the letters.
  • Use an exacto knife to cut out the letters.  I have a cutting board that I use beneath the paper.
  • Measure the template you have created to determine the size of wood required.  I like to leave at least one inch on either side, maybe two.  If my template is 12 inches, I will use a 14 – 16 inch piece of wood.
  • Cut out a piece of burlap that will leave an inch all the way around your word or words.  If my template is 12 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches tall, my piece of burlap will be 14 inches by 5 1/2 inches.
  • Iron the burlap.
  • Take the template and place it on top of the burlap and paint over it.  I use acrylic paint, I couldn’t get the spray paint to work without it leaking onto the rest of the burlap.  Don’t put too much paint on at once as it may leak around your template.  I put just enough to show me where the letters are.
  • Take the template off and touch all of the letters up.  If you have painted just enough, for the outline, you’ll need go over each letter.
  • Set aside