Friday, April 20, 2012

Faux zinc/industrial metal letters-Tutorial

Anybody remember seeing these beauties at Anthropolgie awhile back?

I really like the urban punch these industrial letters give. They are super versatile and look great in any room and in any decor.

As I was nearing completion on my latest project, my laundry/mud room revamp...I thought some of these lovelies would be the perfect accessory for personalizing some hooks I hung.

Always the sucker for knocking off anything I think is over priced, I set out to recreate these preciouses for as little as possible.

I started out with a regular, old paper mache letter {or number or whatever tickles your fancy}. You can get them at any craft store {$2-4.50, depending on what size you choose}.

I grabbed some black and some metallic silver craft paint. {$2-3 each}

and some silver brads {$3 for 50}

Bam! That's all you need to create some industrial chic goodness.

To begin, paint the letter {or number} black

After it is dry, lightly brush over it with the metallic paint.

You want to take care not to put the paint on too thickly. The goal is to allow some of the black base coat to show through.

After this coat of paint is dry, apply one more coat of metallic paint. Again, brushing very lightly. Most of the black should be covered up with the silver paint at this point. But, you should still be able to see some of the black peeking through- giving the letter more depth and the zinc look we are going for.

Now, you could stop here and call it good, or you could add a little industrial bling by applying strategically placed silver brads all over the letter.

Poke a little pilot hole with a sharp utensil of your choosing...I used a little paring knife.

Once you have the hole made, add a little hot glue to the prongs of your brad and insert into the hole.

{I brushed over all of the brads with some left over paint to tone down the shine and help them blend in with the letter more...not necessary, but I think it looks better personally}.

And voila. Paper mache letters that look just like industrial metal letters.

I ended up spending about $30 for five, 12 inch letters. The zinc letters at Anthropologie, were smaller and sold for around $18 each. That's a savings of almost $70. Boo-ya!!!

{Also, my little tip for hanging the dears...use adhesive velcro cut into little squares on the back. The letters will stay nice and secure on the wall. This also makes it easy to take down and put the letters back up should you ever need to.}


  1. YOU are amazing!!!!!! Love your idea and will definately try it! Thank you sooooo much for showing us how.
    ~Debra xxx
    Capers of the vintage vixens

  2. Those look really great! Thanks for the tute!!
    Blessings, Lorraine

  3. Love these! The added brads really finish them off! ;)

    Bonnie @ uncommon

    1. Thanks Bonnie. I kinda like 'em better with the brads.

  4. Really nice looking and I love the inexpensive cost!...Thanks for sharing!

  5. Fantastic tutorial! Layering the paint and adding the brads were genius! I followed your instructions to a T and super-sized it for some fun art for our breakfast nook!Here was my project:
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. This is the best tutorial for faux zinc letters I've seen on the web. Downloading the Hobby Lobby app now! Thanks!

  7. Where did you get the paper mache letters at?? I saw some at Hobby Lobby but they were small and did not have big size letters.

    1. I found my paper mâché letters at Joann's. They have a pretty decent selection, I've found. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. What type of brush did you use when painting the metallic paint?

  9. What type of brush did you use when painting the metallic paint?

  10. Just a quick question do you think you could do this with gold? What would you think you should use as a base color? Black still?? Just thinking it would be great fir an upcoming project! I love your tutorial! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Oh for sure. I think you could follow the same steps I used, just replace the silver paint with gold. Good luck!

  11. Really nice Metal Letters.
    Thanks for sharing!



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