Ok, so I'm that annoying sister. You know, the one who does an embarrassing dance move to say hello to my siblings when I see them on the street. The one who ironically buys a One Direction phone case with the members photoshopped on it and forces my sibling to use it.
So I'm also that sister who decides my younger brother doesn't have enough christmas spirit yet and makes a fireplace monitor cover so that they can no longer look cool while gaming. That's me.
- Cardboard box: Just sturdy and large enough to fit over the monitor.
- Egg cartons: The inside of egg cartons have the perfect texture for simulating bricks, and the recycling aspect is pretty dope.
- White printer paper: You're gonna need quite a few regular A4 sheets of printer paper to cover the cardboard. It's not required but I do recommend it.
- Glue: I used regular white school glue and a gluestick for my project, but other types would work too. I don't recommend hot glue (for reasons that we shall not speak about), but wood glue, clear glue, and even some superglue could work.
- Scissors: For various cutting.
- X-acto knife: For even more various cutting.
- Fine tipped pen: Because I like clear, distinct lines, unlike the ones you get when using pencils.
- Ruler: Preferably a large one.
- Acrylic paint: Primarily red, white, yellow, black/brown.
- Masking tape: For a neat trick that I'll show you later on.
- Paintbrushes: I encourage you to use damaged, scraggly old stiff brushes for this, both for technique, and for possible further damage.
- Sand: Yes, I'm serious.
- Black construction paper: Or use black acrylic paint.
- Felt: I used white, red, and green.
- Thread: I used red and white to match my stockings.
- Needle: Any needle that's strong enough to sew felt. Basically any needle at all.
- Decorative scissors: Scallops and zigzags look really nice.
- Garland: Some fake pine garland from the dollarstore is plenty good.
- Battery powered string lights: Optional, but wrapping it around the garland does add to the effect.
- Sewing pins: To fasten the decorations to the box firmly.
Step 1: Measure Once, Twice, and Possibly an Additional 7 Times.
This project is completely dependent on taking the correct measurements from the beginning. Measure the screen, the complete monitor, the height from table to monitor, and height from table to screen.
Step 2: Cardboard Box
I save all my old boxes, because I'm an insane person. I actually found a box that fit pretty snugly around the monitor, but honestly, I think an even larger one would add to the fireplace effect. Just make sure that there's enough room on the desk of the person who plans to use it. You'll need to find a slightly wider and deeper box with a low height to use as a mantel as well.
I cut my box in half with an x-acto knife after measuring carefully. I will smush these two sides together to make a box with lesser depth. I then measured and drew a plan of the cutout. When cutting this part out, place the box on a table smaller than the box to ensure that the front side of the assembled box can lie flush on the table. This means that it is much easier to cut since you are bracing the knife against a surface, and less chance of the cardboard folding on you.
Fit your box over the monitor once more before moving forward with more hard work, to make sure it fits and to make sure that you're not wasting days of work on something that doesn't when it all comes down to it. It fits? Good job, NEXT.
Step 3: Cover the Box
Covering it isn't actually required, since we'll be covering most of the box up later anyways, but I always like covering my cardboard, just in case there are any dents from a stray x-acto knife, or damaged corners, or any other imperfections.
Using a glue stick, and a few sheets of regular printer paper, I began covering my box. Apply the glue on the cardboard, not on the paper. This makes it easier to avoid wrinkles and warping. When you reach the edges of the monitor cutout wrap the paper inwards around the edge to cover it completely.
Step 4: Fake Bricks
When making a realistic miniature dollhouse like 4 years ago, I found that egg cartons make great bricks. The texture is just gravelly enough, and easy to work with. Make a template out of paper and get to work drawing a buuunch of rectangles on the interior of egg cartons. The size of the bricks depends on your box, but the ratio of standard bricks is 3:1 in length;height. In total, I made 188 bricks to cover my entire fireplace. Make sure to cut a few long bricks to make the end pieces for the corners. In real life, this would just mean that 2 of the 4 sides of the cuboid would be exposed. We have to fake this with a wraparound piece of brick.
Cutting all of the bricks out doesn't actually take long, but after that, we're moving on to painting, which is usually a tedious and messy process. HOWEVER, I have a trick to share with you!
Get yourself a piece of reject cardboard, and some masking tape. Tear off strips roughly the width of the reject cardboard, but place the strips on it with the sticky side UPWARDS. You just fasten the very ends with a tiny piece of tape placed the right way around. Make rows and rows of sticky tape, and then place all of your cut out bricks face up on the tape. This just holds the brick in place in one place. Normally when painting something like this, we'd hold the bricks one by one in our hands, but this gets messy real quick. By fastening the bricks we have a way to paint without the mess (all the excess ends up on the piece of cardboard), and the bricks stay in place unlike if we had just placed them on a surface without the tape. I've tried doing this, and the bouncing around is aggravating to say the least.
Step 5: Painting Bricks
With your fastened bricks ready, squirt out some paint on a palette of any kind, but don't mix the different colors. You're going to need mostly red, a little yellow, and a teeny tiny bit of black and white. Using a stiff bristled paintbrush, dab it into the different colors just a bit, dab the brush a few times on a scrap paper to make the colors blend together ever so slightly. Now, dab the bricks for a natural, uneven look. If unsatisfied with the unevenness, just add more paint after the first layer has dried. With acrylic paint, this only takes minutes.
Now, remove the bricks from the tape. This should be easy since the adhesiveness of masking tape is very mild.
Step 6: Laying the Bricks
My fake masonry skills are limited, but I probably have more experience with this than the average person (at least I hope so). the best tip I have for you is to make a space template, which just means a piece of cardboard that is the width of the space you wish to have between each brick, both vertically and horisontally. Use this for placing every brick evenly. Also make sure you place the bricks in your desired pattern. I went for a classic overlapping pattern.
I brushed a little bit of white glue on the back of each brick, and pressed it to the box. Let dry. Don't use way too much glue, or you might risk the brick sliding around before the glue dires.
Step 7: Grouting
The easiest way to simulate the concrete between each brick is with sand. Get some sand and sift it a couple of times with a common sift to get the big pieces out. We don't want those. We just want the true sand.
You might want to get a tarp or some newspapers lain out on your floor for this next part. When you're ready, use a paintbrush that you don't care much about and dip it in white glue. "Paint" the glue onto the white paper inbetween the bricks. Then, get some sand (spoons are great tools) and sprinkle it over the glue. Knock the excess sand off immediately, the sand you need will already have stuck to the glue anyways. I suggest painting on glue and applying sand in small sections until all of the box is covered.
Let dry completely.
Step 8: Painting Grout
When the glue is dried, we can start painting the grout. I roughly mixed some black and white acrylic paint (some color variation doesn't hurt so don't bother mixing too well) and dabbed it on top of the sand. Don't paint it on, it will just loosen up the sand unecessarily. Make sure to only dab.
Let this dry completely.
Step 9: Mantel
Cover your other cardboard box in black construction paper. I, of course, ran out of mine and had to paint it black instead, but paper would have been so much easier.
When the box is dry, glue it onto the main fireplace piece and admire your work. It's really coming together!
Step 10: Decorating Your Fireplace
I wanted to deck my fireplace out as if it was prepared for christmas. This meant I had to do even more work, but I didn't mind. You could definitely just get some small christmas stockings and pine garland and glue it on, but I couldn't find any stockings in my desired size, so I just sewed my own.
Step 11: Stockings
Cut out a sock shape from your felt. I made four pieces to end up with two stockings. I firstly went all around the shape (except the foot hole) with a blanket stitch (here's my favorite blanket stitch tutorial) in a matching color thread, but a contrasting color would probably look great too. A tip if you're struggling to make evenly spaced stitches while hand sewing is to scribble two lines on the side of your thumb to represent the width you want between each stitch. That way, you always have a reference right up against your fabric to guide you.
For the white rim, I cut a piece of felt twice the length of my foot opening width, and twice the height I wanted my rim to have. The reason for doubling the height is because I know that my felt is a bit sheer when layered over bright colors, so I wanted to double the fabric for maximum opacity. Fold the height in half, and sew down the sides and folded edge with a blanket stitch. Leave the long side with the fold opening unsewn. Use some decorative scissors to cut along the unsewn long side, right by the edge. Felt doesn't fray, so you don't have to zigzag around aaaaalll those little decorative elements if you don't want to. Just leave them be with the sides holding the piece together. Sew the long strip into a loop, ending up with a loop with seams on the sides and top, with a nice intricate edge at the bottom. Pull the white loop in place over the red sock, and stitch along the top. Make sure to stitch each side seperate, you don't want to sew your foot opening closed!!
The stitches around the toe and heel are purely for aesthetic reasons, but I think it adds to the overall look. When starting the stitches, enter the needle from the inside of the stocking to avoid having a knot sticking out in the front. Again, make sure to sew each side separate so you don't sew the sides together.
Cut out letters if you wish. I cut out a P for my younger brother's name in green felt, and a C for his dog's name. I then cut slightly smaller versions in white and layered on top. sew this onto the side of the stocking.
For the hanger, you simply need a narrow strip of green felt, folded in half and sewn to make a loop. Fasten the sewn edge to the inside of the stocking, lining up with the heel.
Step 12: Assembly
Fastening the garland and stockings is pretty easy. I used sewing pins to pierce through the mantle cardboard. A tip for making these pins stay very firmly in place is to put a earring backing on the inside (if you can reach into your box.) This isn't necessarily needed though. I also cut out a small notch for his mouse cord to be able to run it through the front where he prefers it.
Now, everything you have to do is get a fireplace animated wallpaper for your computer (psst! Hide your desktop icons by right clicking and choosing show > hide icons for a neater look), and sit back and relax. I was lucky enough to know my brother's password, so I could even assemble it and set the wallpaper so that is was all ready when he got home. Surprise!
Runner Up in the