I am a HUGE fan of personalized decor….I just feel like it’s what really makes a house a home and not some stuffy waiting room or lobby area. You will probably never see a generic painting or photograph hanging on my walls (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course….there’s some really beautiful stuff out there!).
However, since this is our house, I want to decorate it with a collection of our life and memories….photographs, mementos, keepsakes, etc. that are special to us, even if no one else understands why we live in Alabama but have a map of Jamaica framed and hanging in our loft (hint: we were married there!).
I especially love personalized decor for the holidays. It’s so fun to pull out a tub of decorations year after year and rediscover little family treasures. Since I gave birth to my son last year, this desire for personalized keepsakes has been in overdrive, and I decided to create a little Halloween decoration that incorporates his cute little one-year-old footprints….and I am just in love with the ghostly little Halloween footprint craft we threw together!
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Halloween Footprint Craft: A Ghostly Keepsake!
This year will be my son’s second Halloween but his first trick-or-treating and getting the full All Hallow’s Eve experience. It’s therefore going to be just as if not more special and memorable than his first holiday. I mean, how adorable was this little four-month-old lobster last year?!:
Supplies I Used for this Keepsake:
- Small board
- Black spray paint
- Glitter craft paint
- White craft paint
- Foam brush
- Vinyl (five colors) & Silhouette Cameo
- Transfer paper
- Hot glue
Painting The Board
I had a general idea in my head that I was going to turn Rowan’s footprints into ghosts and somehow incorporate the phrase “Trick or treat, smell my feet” in with it. Beyond that was still TBD when I started, which is usually how I work. Inspiration strikes and I figure out the details as I go!
I had purchased some 6″ x 8″ MDF boards about a year ago just to have on hand for when inspiration strikes, so I pulled one out for this project since it is the perfect size for Rowan’s little tootsies. I then covered both sides and all edges with some flat black spray paint.
Adding Some Glitter Paint
Since my spray paint was flat black, and because I wanted to make the board a little more Halloweeny, I applied a coat of glitter paint next to brighten the board up a bit.
I also used this glitter paint for my ‘Happy Halloween’ sign as well as for the cereal box signs on my pumpkin wreath and NFL ‘House Divided’ wreath. It’s a clear gloss paint that has black, orange, and some green glitter in it….I am definitely getting my money’s worth out of it this fall!
After the board was completely dry, I recruited the help of my husband to wrangle our squirmy toddler long enough to get his footprints….sorry, no action shots during this phase.
Since I was going to turn his prints into little ghosts, I grabbed some white acrylic craft paint and painted a light coat onto one of Rowan’s feet with a foam brush. I then guided it onto the board and hoped that it would turn out.
This capturing of the footprints was definitely a two-person job (thanks for your help, honey!), and I had to encourage Rowan to uncurl his toes so the print would resemble a foot and not just a random blob. Luckily, it turned out great!
I then cleaned off his just-painted foot with a baby wipe and repeated the process for the second foot. Rowan was squirmier for this one, and the print ended up being a little more angled than I would have liked, but I was able to compensate for the weird placement with my vinyl design (keep reading!).
After Rowan’s little footprints had dried, I snapped a pic of the board with my iPhone and then uploaded it into Silhouette Studio so I could make a mockup….I’m a very visual person and need to actually SEE my design in the flesh instead of just in my head. It really helps me to determine the placement of all the elements.
The Font: I first visited wordmark.it to try and settle on a font (you can read all about what wordmark.it is and why I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread here. Seriously, if you’re like me and have a bazillion fonts on your computer, you need to check it out….it very well may change your life. Possibly. Or maybe not. Or totally.).
After scoping out the plethora of possible font choices, I ultimately decided on a fun font ironically called Mountains of Christmas. A Christmas font for a Halloween project…love it! I added my desired text and changed the colors into Halloween shades that matched my vinyl, then created small offsets that would act as a white border for all the words. Even though this layering of vinyl was going to be tricky (no pun intended), I love how it looks.
The Speech Bubble: To create the speech bubble for the ghosts’ “Boo!”, I used a dingbat font called KG Flavor and Frames Two (letter ‘o’), duplicated it, flipped it horizontally, welded the two together, then used my Knife and Edit Points tools to clean up the lines (got all that?).
The Ghosts’ Eyes: I first thought about sticking little googly eyes on the ghosts, but after testing some out, I didn’t like how it looked. So I hit up Pinterest for some cartoon eyes that I could also cut out of vinyl and stumbled across a great find. It was a blog that had some free printables to use on pumpkins in place of carving them. The file with a bunch of different sets of eyes was perfect for this project, so I downloaded it, opened it up in Silhouette Studio, traced it, then selected a couple of my favorite pairs.
The Ghosts’ Mouths: The mouths were super simple to make. I just used my Ellipsis tool and made little ovals. Easy as can be!
Sizing All The Elements
Now that my design was complete, I needed to make sure that everything was the correct size before cutting any vinyl. My board measured 6″ x 8″, so I used my Rectangle tool and created a shape that was those exact dimensions. I then selected all of my design elements and resized them together so they were scaled appropriately and fit within the board.
Adding Registration Marks
To make my life a little easier and the layering of all this vinyl a little less stressful (hopefully at least!), I added several pairs of registration marks. These little boxes (I filled them in with yellow in my design just to make them easier to see) would be cut out above each line of text to help align the colored words overtop their white backgrounds.
You can read a more detailed description of what registration marks are and why they are so helpful when layering vinyl here. The ghost faces and speech bubble didn’t need registration marks since they didn’t have any layering.
Cutting The Vinyl
White Vinyl: Using my Silhouette Cameo, I first cut out all of the white vinyl pieces (the font backgrounds and speech bubble as well as their registration marks). You can see the red cut lines below (you have to look closely on the words to see that it’s actually the white background being cut and not the colored letters….trust me, it is!).
Orange Vinyl: Next came the orange words. In order to save vinyl, I moved the “Boo!” word and its registration marks up higher. All the non-orange elements were changed to ‘No Cut’ and therefore no longer had red cut lines surrounding them.
Green Vinyl: The same process was done for cutting the green vinyl.
Purple Vinyl: The purple vinyl got the same treatment.
Black Vinyl: The black vinyl cuts were the smallest and simplest ones, but they were the most finicky to cut! I ended up losing the inner rings on the crazy set of eyes (the right pair) but I still like it just as well….although it kinda resembles Cookie Monster now. ;)
The Vinyl Cuts
Here you can see all of my vinyl pieces after they were cut and weeded. A great thing about this project was that all the cuts were small, so I was able to use up a bunch of scraps left over from other projects….horray for frugal crafting!
Layering The Text: To layer the text, I just placed some transfer paper over top the colored pieces then lined up their registration marks above the white ones (once again, for a more detailed explanation, check this out).
After a quick rub with my scraper tool, my layered words were complete and beautiful….ahhh, I love a successful layering job.
Applying The Vinyl: Now that all of my vinyl pieces were ready for application, I started placing them on the board. I just pulled the vinyl off its backing with some transfer paper and once again used my scraper tool to adhere it solidly to the board. I didn’t bother with any measurements before placing the vinyl (ain’t nobody got time for that!), so I took a walk on the wild side and just eyeballed everything….sometimes I get wild and crazy like that.
Our Completed Halloween Footprint Craft: Rowan’s Ghostly Tootsies
After all the vinyl was applied, I added some orange ribbon to the back for hanging….although we don’t normally hang it off a tree in the backyard. ;)
I just LOVE this! It’s festive and cute and personalized. Even with the lopsided righthand ghost, it worked out since I was able to add a speech bubble in the center….what a serendipitous mistake, huh?
This piece will make me smile year after year when I reminisce about my little boy’s first real Halloween and how tiny his feet used to be….and I’ll also probably be a little sad at how much he’s grown and the fact that he’s no longer my little baby (*sniffle*). Ahhhh, how bittersweet motherhood is….
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Post updated September 2015 with new photos of completed sign.