Saturday, January 16, 2016

Book Inspired Baby Blocks DIY

"Even the smallest of things that you do
blossom and multiply far beyond you."
- Nancy Tillman

I am madly in love with Nancy Tillman's story books. Not only are the illustrations beautiful and enchanting, but the words are special as well.  They're written like letters full of love and encouragement.  Whenever I'm in the market for a baby gift, I usually find myself in the book aisle flipping through a copy of On the Night You were Born, You're Here for a Reason, or The Crown on Your Head.  Her images have this dreamlike quality - they almost seem to glow.
Do you see what I mean here? 
(Image from

Feeling overwhelmingly inspired by these gorgeous illustrations, I made a set of personalized baby blocks to give with each book.  I painted each letter of Baby's name on a block, then added patterns and little images inspired by the lovely scenes from the book pages.

You could create baby blocks to go with any book, even if you aren't the best painter in the world.  They will still be special and magical: I promise.  Choose a book that speaks to you with a message you'd like to share.

You will need:
children's book for inspiration
wooden blocks 
acrylic paint

These 2" wooden blocks are from Hobby Lobby. I bought one for each letter in Baby's name.
Acrylic paints work best on wood because they are long lasting and vibrant.
Choose colors that coordinate well with the illustrations in your book.  You may want to stick with 4 to 5 colors if you are planning to paint very basic images or patterns.
Begin by painting the blocks a base color.  I chose six different colors, one for each side.  At this point, my blocks are identical.
 I left a border of about .25" of unfinished wood on each surface. I wanted the natural wood to peek through, but that isn't necessary.  Notice how my paint borders are imperfect.  That's okay because handmade gifts aren't meant to be perfect.
Paint one letter of Baby's name on each block, then add a number to a different side.
Consider using contrasting colors.  If your base colors are dark, maybe you'll paint the numbers and letters in white.  If they're bold, use the opposite on the color wheel to make them pop.
(yellow - purple)
(red - green)
(orange - blue)
That leaves you with four sides to embellish on each block.  
I recommend covering two sides with a pattern, such as wavy lines, stripes, polka dots or zigzags.  
Now, two sides are left for you to paint lovely images on.  
Flip through your book's pages to find inspiration.  Your paintings can be as simple or as intricate as you'd like.  Don't feel intimidated by this process.
Here is another magical Nancy Tillman illustration brimming with inspiration.
If you're ambitious, you could paint the moon, a giraffe, or the horns.
If those ideas are overwhelming, consider painting music notes, the giraffe pattern, a basic crescent moon shape, or a dark indigo background with white spots would read as a star filled sky.

(Image from
Remember: your blocks don't need to be perfect.  Have fun with them, make them special and unique.
"paint 'til you're blue..."
Nancy Tillman

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