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Monday, September 9, 2013

* Growth Chart Boards

I like to make heirloom quality gifts to give my grand kids. Here is a gift that each one received last Christmas, designed with the personality of each child in mind.

On the flowered designs I used the flower stems for measuring. The farmstead has the measurements on the cornstalk, and on the 'things that go', I used the ladder from the firetruck for the measurement guide. I call them Growth Chart Boards. They are made from solid pine wood, 1 inch by 6 inches wide and 4 feet long, and are designed with the top to be at six feet up on the wall. I spent hours and hours on some of these, but they can be made easily and fairly quickly; and also very inexpensively! Let me show you how I made these.

Start with a very straight board with as few blemishes and knots as you can find. Sand it to remove splinters and rough spots including markings. My husband does this part for me; he likes to put a bevel on the edges. Paint your board with a base coat of house paint any color or finish you choose, or use acrylic paint; I suggest you use a light color and roll it on or use a sponge brush. A bristle brush leaves little ridges that you will fight with later.
I planned out my design on paper first using the same proportions as my board. Here is what mine looked like for the ones I made above. I painted my background colors, and then trace my design in using chalk which can be easily removed if you make a mistake. I painted in the rest of the design and added the measurements.
Below is a less complicated and faster way to make one of these Growth Chart Boards with red airplanes as the theme. 
For this board design, I copied and pasted coloring book pages into a Word document program on my computer and proportioned them to the sizes I wanted. I printed and cut them out, and placed them on my board to decide where I wanted them. Some of the airplanes I flipped over so they would not all be going in the same direction. I could still see the outline of the airplane through the back of the paper, so I traced it with my pencil; then I numbered the prints as I removed them from the board on the side that would be up.
Using a soft lead pencil, I used the old school method of rubbing my pencil on the back of the print, placing it right side facing up on the board and tracing over the out line with my pencil. The pencil lead rubbed on the back of the print transfers the design. Use any method you like for the transfer. Stamps would also be an easy and fast choice for this airplane design, and would work for many themes; decoupage images, or gluing on thin wood cut outs that you can find at crafts stores would work too. These are easy to personalize with the child's name and birth date. 

I like Liquitex professional acrylics because it is good quality; there are less expensive brands, but you may have to do extra coats and I think it’s worth the extra money for the time you will save. Use good artist brushes and paint in your designs.
When the paint dried I outlined my airplanes with a permanent sharpie. I taped down a measuring tape along the left side and marked the one inch and half inch measurements using a square to ensure straight lines.
I put tape on the backside of the square so the metal wouldn’t mark up my finished design. I numbered the three foot, four and five foot measurements.
On the back top, measure the exact middle from side to side and one inch down from the top edge. (You will find that your board is not exactly six inches, be sure to find the exact middle so it will hang straight) Mark these points with a pencil. Your hanger will line up on the side to side mark with the middle of the hanger at the cross mark down the one inch. This is important for accuracy when it is hung later. We use small screws instead of the nails that come with the hangers so they will not pull out.
At the bottom it is nice to finish off the board with adhesive felt or rubber stay put bumpers.
Include these instructions with your heirloom quality gift:
'To hang your Growth Board, measure up from the floor 6 feet.  Subtract 1 inch from that measurement and that is where you will put your nail or screw to hang the Growth Board from.
Measure and mark the height of your child on the Growth Board with a pencil; to make it permanent, mark over the pencil mark with a permanent sharpie marker.'

What a nice and inexpensive gift, made with love, from Grandma and Grandpa!

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