How do you know someone is training for a marathon? Just wait a bit – they’ll tell you. (Thanks, Liz.)
OK, technically I only ran a half marathon, but I was very proud and wanted a way to save my bib and finisher “medal” (which was actually a necklace). I’ve seen a lot of different medal holders on Etsy and decided to go for it. If you’re a crafter/runner (or some other activity that ends with medals), maybe you can give it a shot, too!
Let’s start with materials. You’ll need a wood block (mine was a 9×12 from the craft store – you could try a piece of plywood or something similar), sandpaper, paint and varnish, a cheapo foam brush, super glue, repositionable glue, hooks, clips, and letters (I used my Cricut – you can also try stickers or freehand painting).
First off, sand the wood block. I needed to do a lot of sanding because the plaque I bought was in rough shape. It was the last one the store had and I was feeling crafty so I decided to go for it. If my Dad is reading this (and he’s probably not because his use of the internet is limited to emails about his golf league), he would probably be embarrassed I bought a sanding block instead of being tough and using sandpaper over a scrap of wood… but I say it was four dollars well spent. Side note: do the sanding outside. Trust me – it’s messy.
Next, choose a base color and paint the whole thing. The base color is what you want the letters to be because we’ll be using a masking technique. It will also be the color that shows through when we do the weathering. I used cheap craft acrylic and a cheapo foam brush. You’ll probably need two coats.
Sorry about the crappy picture. It’s hard to paint with your right hand and take a picture with your left. Also, it shows as an interesting shade of electric blue. It’s not. It’s turquoise. PS – let the paint dry completely before moving on.
Then you need to cut letters and stick them down. I used my Cricut but if you don’t have one, try stickers for the masking technique. You might also try rub-ons or freehand painting (if you’re feeling brave). Use the repositionable glue because that will allow us to easily peel them up later. I went for a really easy statement (and a play on the band Fun. – who really are fun), but you can try a favorite quote or your name or whatever you want.
Then go ahead and paint on the top coat. This is the color that will mostly show – in my case, gray. You may have to kind of blot/sponge around the letters to really get the paint over the letters. Again, let the paint dry completely before you move on to the next step.
Now it’s time to peel away the letters. Hopefully by now, you’re seeing how the mask technique works. If you opted for stickers instead of repositionable glue, be really careful here. The stickers could leave that annoying sticky white paper mess behind. If you’re using rub-ons or paint instead of the masking technique, apply your letters after the next step – sanding.
The next step is to sand. I have no picture of the sanding – only the finished product. It’s impossible to sand and photog and the same time. Basically, you sand the edges and different areas to reveal the base coat color underneath and give it a “weathered” look. Again, do the sanding outside. You will probably want to wipe away the dust with a damp cloth. The more sanding you do, the more weathered the look. remember, a good chunk of the final project will be covered by race bibs – so you don’t need to do much sanding in the middle.
Now, paint on the varnish. Follow the directions on the label. Let it dry THOROUGHLY before you add the finishing touches. It might take a few hours.
The finishing touches – add the clips and hooks. I used miniature clothespins (I painted them) and glued them down using Gorilla Glue. I used one of my larger race bibs to determine the placement.
Then, add the hooks at the bottom. I found these really cool push-pin hooks at the hardware store. WARNING! Make sure you put them low enough that the race bibs won’t cover them. I definitely had to pull out my first attempt with the claw end of a hammer and move them. Curse words were involved. Also, measure to make sure they’re placed evenly.
That’s it! All that’s left is to clip on your bibs and hang your medals. All of my medals are “finisher” medals, but maybe if I keep up with running, eventually I’ll place in my age group. Or – maybe I’ll get lucky with a small race that only has 3 people in my age group.
Happy Crafting! Happy Running!