Monday, August 22, 2011

Aluminum Is Not Magnetic. You Need To Know This.

You know how I've told you that a lot of my projects are created out of a need for something, and that's how they get made? This is not one of those projects. I didn't need this. But I wanted it... mostly to show the people at Pottery Barn that they were wholly unnecessary. See here, page 21 of a recent Pottery Barn catalog:

Awesome, yes?  Hang on there, before you grab for the phone to place your order:  the sets were on sale for $349.00.  Yes, really.  No, I'm not kidding.

Pottery Barn laid down the gaunlet.  I poured gravy on it and got to work.  I got foam board from the dollar store, clearanced fabric from Walmart, cork board squares from Walmart, a sheet of aluminum, and some wood trim.  I took it all home and inspected my supplies.

This was when I found out that aluminum is not magnetic.  My husband said I should have know that.  Listen pally, my degree was not in metallurgy.  And I just KNOW there's some smarty out there who will tell me that it's due to a missing electron or something in the metal... ugh.  At any rate, I sent the know-it-all hubby to our local hardware store to procure the proper metal.  And he did... and it was $5 cheaper than what I paid.  He'll never let me live it down.

Anyhoo, the hubster cut the magnetic metal into 12"x12" squares to match the cork squares.  I also cut the foam board into the same size squares and prepared for battle:

I adhered the metal sheets to the foam board using Gorilla Glue. That stuff is amazing.
I had to weigh it down for a while to let the glue work its magic.  When you weigh stuff down, I bet you have an awesome system.  I have a lasagna pan with a glass loaf pan inside:
We're high-tech over here.  Once the Gorilla Glue set up, I sprayed the metal side with spray adhesive and adhered the fabric to it.  Easy-schmeasy.  I arranged the metal and cork the way I wanted it on the final project and glued some more foam board across the back of them to make them one piece.  This was easier than I'm making it sound, trust me.
I had enough metal and cork to fill every spot except the middle.  I thought about a lot of different options, but I was limited by my need for symmetry.  I'm totally weird like that.  My troubles were over when I found this plain dry erase board at Walmart for $5.  It was the perfect size and it was magnetic!  It was meant to be!
I placed all the pieces face-down on my table to glue them all together in the back.  This was not a difficult step, but it took a while.  I glued a section at a time to make sure it was all coming together well.  When it was all glued up, I moved on.
There are several things happening in the above picture:  The water jug was weighing stuff down for glue to dry, there's a phone there for fielding important calls from dignitaries, and I just got the latest copy of Good Housekeeping so I had to read it while the glue dried. I'm a multi-tasker.

I flipped it over.  This took some determination, guts, and a beefy-armed husband to accomplish.  But we did it.  Here's how it was looking so far:
The dry erase board came with magnets.  Love it.  Since I'm not a fan of seams, I glued some ribbon to it:
My son wanted me to write him a message, so I did.  He is pretty darn awesome.

Next, I took some wood trim (or is it considered molding? I can't remember...) and hand-cut pieces for the frame.  I measured out 45 degree angles.  For realsies.  We need a miter saw.  Anyhoo, it turned out pretty well, for a hand-cut frame.  I glued the pieces to the edges and weighed them down.  The lasagna pan wouldn't work here, so I stuffed some rice in a Ziploc bag.  Would you believe that this worked?
I filled in the gaps in the frame with wood putty and painted it.  Here's how it looked when we mounted it:
Do you love it? I absolutely love it... the polka dot squares are magnetic remember, so that will come in handy for school notes and reminders.  The corkboard is, of course, a corkboard.  And the dry erase board is probably great for writing reminders and such, but for now, my son wrote the year on it so he'd remember and my husband drew a face around the magnets.  My whole family is hysterical.  Here's the finished product:
The picture is bad, yes.  But this project was awesome.

Want to know how much it cost?  Go on, ask me... go ahead.

I thought you'd never ask.  I spent less than $30 on this.  I took back the un-magnetic aluminum, so I'm not counting that in the cost for this.  Pottery Barn will charge you over ten times what it cost me to make it.  Wowsa.  I love that you can pick your own fabric and really make it personal to your family!  I haven't decided whether I should paint a little flower or design on the cork yet, just for a pop of color... for right now, I'm in crafting heaven.

Linking up at...

The Girl Creative

Catch a Glimpse Button

Somewhat Simple

Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom


Stay at Home 



  1. $349??? It better perform any tasks needed to be done in addition to letting me post a to do list on it! Great job on your version!

    Jodi @ Make Three

  2. Fantastic!!! You rocked it girlfriend. I have the magnetic metal squares that my hubby helped me with. I love these things too, but the price, yeah right. Thanks for sharing, I'll have to up load mine too. Found you at Make It Monday.

  3. You did a great job on this!! Funny that you found out the hard way that aluminum isn't magnetic--sounds like something I'd do and my hubs would totally know better and let me know it too! ;) Nice work on the price tag too!

  4. I am sooo with you on the symmetry, and my glue system? A heavy book with a basket of toys on top. Hey, it works! Thanks for sharing your awesome board! I think you should send a photo to Pottery Barn :)

  5. This is fantastic! You really need a warning on your blog to drink coffee with caution while reading! This line almost caused a real mess on my computer screen, "Listen pally, my degree was not in metallurgy."

    Have a great day!

  6. Great knock off! I think I like yours better. :) Would love for you to link this up to my (wow me) wednesday link party going on right now on my blog. :) (I'm a new follower, too!)


  7. That's wonderful! I love seeing inexpensive remakes of Pricey Barn stuff!

  8. Awesome project! You know if you want to you can also find colour cork board or spray it another colour or even cover it in fabric. (I never liked the look of cork)LOL! I may have to try this!!
    I'm glad I stopped by from the Sassy Sites ffa :)

  9. It looks fabulous! Awesome job!

    Thanks for linking up to this week's Catch a Glimpse party.

  10. I love this! Such a cute project. Looks great!

  11. Super! Probably my so-called "stainless steel" fridge is aluminum too since magnets don't stick to it.

    I've envied the original Pottery Barn "command center" for years but never had wall space for it.

  12. That is AWESOME and now I'm hooked on your blog. :<}

  13. omgosh this is seriously awesome!!!
    just what I need too! love the polka dots! :)

  14. That is TOTALLY awesome! I know everyone already said this, much more eloquently, but since it really is, I had to join the party. Nicely done!

  15. I love this! I am going to try to make this for myself to help keep track of all the things on my calendar. Thanks for sharing, I love your fabrics, polka dots rule!

  16. Somehow I never read this post. This looks great. I'm amazed at your "weights". You are so smart. Is a miter saw on your Christmas list? I'll tell Santa you've been very good this year.

  17. love your sense of humor!

  18. I normally can't sit through a DIY blog and read everything word for word, but you... you catch my attention and keep it rolling. Your sense of humor is just a kick. Expect me to be around here for a bit! By the way, wonderful project.

    - Madison @

  19. How did hubby cut the magnetic metal? I used "snips" to cut a 12x24 sheet to the size I wanted, but the edges were a mess. I couldn't attempt your project without straight edges. Any idea what gauge your metal is?


I love all the comments I get from you! Because of an insane amount of spam, I had to turn off anonymous commenting but I'd love it if you'd comment anyway!

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