Wedding Wednesday Tutorial: How to make moss covered letters

Get ready! This is a long one. I saw a beautiful photo of moss covered letters a while back and decided that I'd love to make a "J" and an "M" for our wedding.

Originally found on Etsy, but seller is gone...will update if she comes back!

A few weeks ago, I shared my test run of this project, which I did with a small set of pre-made letters. It went pretty well. I decided to work on the real deal last week while Marc was away on a business trip (to Belgium, that lucky duck). Here's my tutorial for making letters yourself...

1. Search obsessively through hundreds of fonts to find the one in which your initials looks best.
After a couple nights of searching, I settled on Bookman Old for our letters. I wanted the "J" to have to horizontal line on the top and the hook to be pretty, but not so ornate that it would be difficult to cut out.

2. Print your initials out a large as possible, then enlarge them on a copy machine. I used 17" x 11" ledger paper in the copy machine. It left part of the edges cut off. I wound up measuring the sides that were complete to finish the parts that were missing. I've read other blog posts about doing this and some have gone to an office supply store to have their letters printed by even larger machines (the kind that churn out posters), but I was going for the simplest route.

3. Transfer the letters to foamcore.
I put the ledger paper over a large piece of foamcore and traced the outline about ten times with a sharpie. After the first few passes, the sharpie ink started to bleed through the ledger paper onto the foam core.

4. Carefully cut the letters out with an Exact-o knife.

It took me a few passes to get the knife all the way through. You don't have to have perfectly straight lines. In the end, the moss is going to smooth everything out.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 so you have two sets of each letter.

You're about the make a sandwich.

6. Use scraps of foamcore layered on top of each other to make 3-D letters.
played with mine a bit and found that five layers of foamcore between the letters looked best. Glue or tape your stacks of scrap together.

7. Glue the foam letters to the stacks of scrap to create your 3-D letter.

8. Create sides for your letters to give them stability.

I cut strips of cardboard to use as the sides of the letters, making sure they were wide enough to attached to each letter. For the angles and corners, I bent and curled the cardboard into the right shape before gluing them in place. I forgot to document this step when I was working on my first letter, so here's the "M" at this stage:

9. Adjust the shape of your letters with extra cardboard.

I realized that the Bookman Old font made the "M" with one line that was skinnier than the others. I decided to plump it up with an extra layer of cardboard on one side.

10. Glue moss cloth to the letters with hot glue.
This was the fun part. I cut strips of moss cloth to start, but wound up using bits and pieces to finish the edges and corners. I covered the entire letter, but some people might leave the back unfinished.

Here's the final product:

What do you think? I was pretty darn proud of myself.

There's more to this, though. I'll post part 2 soon...


  1. omg these are amazing!!! love love love how they came out- and your whole foamcore/stacking 3D thing is genius! love love love!!

  2. Think there is a market (on etsy maybe) to order your custom letters already cut out? The laser I have cuts foam core really well (or particle board, wood, acrylic too for that matter). I don't think I want to sell a whole mossy ensemble, but could definitely do letters, and then the font could be a lot more complex and copies exactly the same. What would someone pay do you think?

  3.  This picture is just what I've been looking for. Thanks!  Love your letters just always looking for a shortcut... 

  4.  Have you ever tried using styrofoam for the letters?  I know you have to be careful of hot glue with it but I would think if it melted a bit the moss would cover and you could also use florist pins for tucking
    smaller areas?   

  5. Looking good, and this is a great tutorial.
    Random fact - the lines on the letters (like the one you wanted on the J) are "serifs" and that's why sans-serif fonts are more sleek and have no little lines on the letters.

  6. omg these are amazing!!! love love love how they came out- and your whole foamcore/stacking 3D thing is genius! love love love!!

  7. Jeannine, you did a great job! The letters are beautiful...

  8. These look fantastic, I love them! Deciding whether it would be super weird to hang them inside my house... or do I care? They are great!

  9. These look fantastic! I was assigned a project similar to this in a freshman design class. Create a 3-D piece of "art" out of cardboard. We all thought it was the most ludicrous, most dumb project, and a complete waster of time. Little did we know that 10+ years later projects like these would be popping up all over craft blogs. Had we been thinking outside the box (and been given a little more encouragement from our crumudgeny old professor who obviously was tired of his job), we could've really blown each other away by adding more materials to the single cardboard ingredient.

  10. carrie @ brick city loveAugust 5, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    These look great!!

  11. when will you post part two?

  12. Wonderful idea!!  Love it.

  13. Pssst!! That seller is back from vacation. That's all it was.

  14. How do you make the bows for this wreath. I am not crafty at all.


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