Jute- There It Is

Happy New Year! While I believe New Year's resolutions are a waste of time, I do believe in goals, and my new goal for 2014 is to start blogging all the creating, crafting and decorating I have been doing around our home. So here is my first tutorial- the jute letter.

I am a huge believer in "upcycling" these days. Reimagining things you already have is a great way to save money and keep clutter out of your home and landfills. We moved into a new home in September, and I have completely changed gears from our last home's style. I recently repainted our entire first floor in shades of gray and really wanted a lot of white and and natural wood toned pieces to really pop against the cool shades. The problem- all my accent pieces and furniture are dark from my contemporary/Arts and Crafts phase. The answer- paint and burlap.

Jute Letter

Items needed:
Letter (wood, plastic, cardboard, etc.)
Hot glue gun
Glue sticks

I had this black "M" (for our last name), and I knew I wanted it to be the star of a collage in our family room. My initial thought was to paint it white, but I thought that was a little boring. I wanted it to have some texture and depth, so I decided to wrap it in jute.

If you don't have a letter, you can find them for pretty cheap at a craft store such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or JoAnne's. Since you will be covering it up you don't have to worry about buying one that is already finished. Mine just happened to be. Raw wood or a paper mache would actually work really well for this project.   

I bought a spool of 135ft and 4 ply natural jute at Hobby Lobby for around $3 after using a coupon. (Tip: Download the apps for all the major craft stores. Most of them have a 40% off coupon for a full price item. They also give you current sale price info.) Jute comes in different lengths and plies so pick the one that works best for your project. You can find jute in the string or yarn section of any craft store. I have heard they even sell jute at some hardware stores.

To start off, keep the wrapper on your spool and just find the loose end in the middle and pull. The string will pull out from the center and keep your spool of jute in tact which makes it a lot neater. Next, I covered up all the ends that I wouldn't be able to cover as I wrapped the jute around my letter. I cut pieces to length and glued them directly to the letter. 

Here is a picture of my letter after I covered all the non-wrappable (yes, I just made this word up) sides. Each letter will be different so make sure you plan before you start wrapping.

Now, it is time to wrap. Go across your letter with a single straight line of hot glue just thick enough for one string. Hot glue dries fast so only do one row at a time. Simply place your jute right on top of the letter and make sure to push it down well until it touches the row below. Flip it over, do the back side and keep repeating.

Keep wrapping...

 and wrapping...

You will use a LOT of glue so have plenty of sticks handy. I have heard there is a process where you can make a paste mixture and dip the jute in there. I opted for the glue gun because is seemed less messy and easier to control. I also wanted the jute to look raw. I thought the paste dip might make it look shellacked.

At some point you might need to make a cut and start a new row. Just make sure you hide your cuts on the back of the letter. Keep wrapping, and you will end up with this.  

I was really happy with how this turned out. It took a little longer than expected (around 4 hours) but I can be really meticulous about things like this. A normal person might be able to blow through it in a couple hours. I am going to hang mine on the wall as a part of a collage, but it would also work on the top of a dresser or shelf. Mine has holes to hang it. If your letter doesn't, you can drill your own or even glue a cute ribbon to the top to hang it. Be creative. Making a project your own is the best part of being crafty.


Stay tuned to see my finished wall collage starring my jute "M."