How To: Make a Geeky (Or Whatever) Custom Welcome Mat
First of all, I have to saw that I got the idea to do this from here. In fact, that post is where I first realized it was possible to spray paint a coir mat! Also, ever since Husband and I got married, we've wanted one of these from ThinkGeek, but never felt like we could drop the $50 to get one. So, I made one!
I started off with a rug that I picked up for 50% off on Black Friday. I also bought a plain one for $5 in case I messed the first one up, but I can return that one now!
- Computer with image-editing software. Doesn't have to be too fancy, and I even used a free program called Gimp.
- Coir mat
- Freezer paper
- Self-healing cutting mat, or something you don't mind scratching up
- Box cutter or Xacto knife
- Not-super-sticky tape (scotch or masking, rather than duct)
- Spray paint of your choosing. I used Krylon matte black.
- Decide on your message or image. I originally wanted to do "Welcome" in binary, so I translated that using a site I found via Google.
- Measure your writable area of your mat, and create an image file with those dimensions. Since my mat had a border on it already, I measured inside the border.
- Play around with fonts, sizes, placements, etc. until you're happy!
- Since my image is larger than a printed sheet of paper, I created three separate images to print and tape together. I made sure to overlap the images, and make part of the edge a curve, so that it would be easier to match together properly.
- Lay out the papers and tape them together. I trimmed the middle paper so that the edge was right against the edge of the black, to line up better. Also, since I couldn't find clear tape, I used masking tape on the backside. (You may notice that I changed designs at this point... I cut out the first two characters, and decided I didn't have the patience for 25 more "0"s! So, I made a binary monogram. And, I swear, the fact that the "0" doesn't connect to itself isn't the entire reason I chose that font… But maybe 85% of the decision. The font name is "Mars Police," if you're curious.)
- Tape the printer paper down to keep it from slipping around. Lay the freezer paper on top, centered, and tape that down too. Centering the freezer paper at this step made life a lot easier on the next step! Cut out your pattern. Your cat can help if he wants to.
- Center your freezer paper on your mat and tape it down. I tried vacuuming the mat first, to get the loose coir stuff off, but it accomplished nothing…
- If possible, move your mat to where you're going to spray paint it. I had to move it after ironing, and ripped the paper a bit. Iron your freezer paper down. I don't know if I was doing it wrong, or if freezer paper and coir aren't great friends, but mine didn't work very well… I ended up using little loops of tape to stick parts of it down, and I still didn't get a great seal. ALSO: If you have a border, like mine, don't iron over the border! The waxy stuff will stick to it!
- Spray paint. It won't look like you're doing much, especially if you're doing black over natural, but just have faith… It took me 4 coats to get it this dark, and I thought I needed more before I peeled the freezer paper off. Sorry I don't have pictures of this step, but I did it at 11 at night, in my unlit side yard, in 40 degree weather. I was busy trying to hold a heavy flashlight on my shoulder and trying not to spraypaint my jeans…
- Take off the freezer paper, let dry, and admire!
What I Learned
- Less detail is better if you want to get this done quickly. With my 8 characters and connected internal bits, the whole thing took me an hour and a half from computer to cleaned up.
- Don't iron freezer paper on the black bordery bit.
- Move the mat before you iron, or at least move it using something sturdy, like a lap desk. I had to tape the paper back together outside in the dark and cold.
- Relatedly, if you're not positive that it's ironed properly, add loops of tape! The loops worked great, and I wish I had used more of them to prevent some of the bleeding.
- Even if you don't think you'll paint the half inch at the edge, cover it anyway, because you will.
- Maybe, now that I look at the pictures, do 5 coats of paint. Oh well.
All in all, it was a pretty fun project, and didn't take terribly much skill. I wish I had done it during the day, because maybe I would have noticed more places to tape, but such is the life of a crafting, working mom.