Sunday, September 1, 2013

Growth Chart

As most of you know, I LOVE anything I can paint... wood is no exception. With three kids, we needed a way to keep up with how fast they grow.

Growing up we spent a lot of time at our family's cabin in New Mexico. Since long before we were born, my grandmother had been marking her children,  grandchildren, and family on a piece of wood "from the cabin wall". When she moved, of course it had to come with us. Lets just hope the new owners didn't mind a hole in the wall.
 There are lots of ideas for keeping a growth chart, some people just mark them directly on the wall, others use canvas cloth, others mark the on a door jam, or piece of trim.

This is one I painted at a model home, and wont really be used to chart growth.

To insure I wouldn't have the same problem my grandmother did, I decided to make one for our family that would be a bit more portable. This is the perfect way to ensure you will always have these memories.

Check out the tutorial for this easy and very customize-able growth chart.

First you start with the wood. Find your space where you will hang this and see how much room you are going to have. It's also helpful to look at your families height overall, if most of you are pretty short, you don't need a growth chart stretching to 8ft. I used a 6" wide piece, by 6ft tall. Plain old pine is fine especially if your going to paint the whole thing anyways. Stain will still look good on this as well, we aren't making cabinets here.

Pick your colors, you will need 2-5 depending on your designs.

Next I painted one coat of blue over the whole thing, don't forget the sides.
This is the point you where you will want to adjust your measurements. Since all baseboards vary in sizes, your best bet is to start the chart at 6". This will give you some wiggle room when mounting it 6" above the floor. I drew line across the whole board going up every 6".  In between those, at every inch, I made a little hash mark. Remember this does not have to be perfect, no one is going to get out a tape measure and check your chart...well ok, some people may, just hide your tape measure from them.
I put a very lightly painted stencil on every other 6" area. Cutting Edge Stencils, and Royal Design Studios have some great furniture stencils, which have smaller patterns.

On the alternating spaces, I painted a white block. It doesn't need to be a thick, or a perfect coat, when you start to sand it down, you'll be thankful.

Next I got out the palm sander, you don't need a very heavy grit for this. Decide if you want it really rustic, or just a light beat-up look. Start light, and press harder in the areas that might get more worn...the sides, and the bottom. For the next step, you could do a couple things...a glaze over the whole surface or a stain. I mix my own glaze, but they sell premade mixes at most home improvement stores. you can brush it over the surface, and then take a damp rag and wipe it all back off. It can soak into the paint fast, depending on the brand. The other option is to use a stain, the small little containers will be more than enough. I suggest thinning it out with some paint thinner, 50/50 ratio. This will give you the look of a old glaze, without the heaviness. If you want it darker after that you can add another coat. Focus on the edges, or add extra stain to those afterwards. DON'T use a colored wax. While they give the look seen here, it is next to impossible to write on top of it.  

Adding the numbers, will be just a matter of preference. There are a million ways to do it.
In the picture below, I used the entire space of the foot. On others, I've put the number just in a 6" section. Or you can make them a few inches big, and stack them on the bottom line of the foot section. Don't forget how you stared your spacing, if you started at 6" for the beginning, you will probably want to start with the number 2 (Which I did not do in the chart below).

I also painted my hash marks, and my lines going all the way across.

I then sanded the numbers a bit, I didn't do all the sanding at once, since I wanted to be able to see the number clearly. Once you start with the sander, you can get a bit carried away. You could also wait to put the glaze on until after this point as well. Or do a coat before and a coat afterward.

Here is the final product...

Mounted on the wall...
Note I did cut off the 1 so it looked cleaner, and necessary with the outlet in the way.

This one started with the number 2, and it leaves a 6" gap, at the top and bottom.

Here are a couple others I made for clients. You can get really creative with these, Ive done themes for room, names across the tops and down the length of the boards. Added spaceships, pirates, birds, and flowers. You don't have to add the numbers along the way, just the hash marks.

Here is our growth chart, mounted in the upstairs play area, next to the bathroom. I painted it to match the colors of that area.

Even if you only have one child, I strongly recommend doing this. Its amazing to look back and see how fast they grow.

Here we are marking our children. We used a sharpie, and a ruler.

That boy! Such a ham!

Kiera on the other hand, did not love this process.

I love that scowl!

I hope you'll make one for your home.

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