I wanted a funky, shabby, distressed letter M in our living room. I looked at a few online but as usual couldn't bear to spend money on something I could make myself.
So I bought a plain MDF letter from this eBay seller. I kind of made up this technique as I went along, but had the forethought to take pictures as I did it in case it worked out okay. I didn't want a crackle finish exactly, and I didn't want a simple sanded distressed finish either, I wanted it to look kind of chipped and old.
I forgot to take a pic of the letter before I started, but here is a shot of the back so you can see the material it's made of. Just cheap fibreboard.
I began by slapping on a coat of dark brown acrylic paint.
You can see here that it wasn't a total even coverage, but that's okay.
Then I burnt a new tealight until the wax had mostly melted.
I used a paper towel and my fingers to wipe the wax all over the front and edges of the letter. I guess you could just use a dinner candle and rub it all over.
Then I used one of my Pampered Chef scrapers to scrape the wax mostly off - a credit card would work too.
Then I slapped on a coat of white emulsion. Here is what the first coat looked like - you can see how the wax is preventing the white paint from adhering to the brown properly.
I forgot to take a picture after I did a second coat, so I'll just describe it: it was more evenly coated and pretty much white, although it wasn't neat and smooth. But pretty much all of the brown was covered.
Then I took a sanding block and sanded the edges so the brown would show through. The wax makes this easy.
Then I simply used my nails to scratch at the white paint. Because of the wax underneath, the white paint just chipped and pulled right off, leaving exactly the kind of distressed finish I was hoping for!
I just kept scratching here and there, and sanding a little (although the sandpaper only really made a difference on the edges) until I liked the look of it.
You can click this one, it will open up bigger so you can see properly:
And here it is, hung on the living room wall! I love how it turned out, and I think it will look even better when the wall is a pale taupe colour (although I'm not sure how long it will be before that happens.) Oh, and I have to mention that I have a new lamp in mind - that one won't be staying, it's too small.