Board games are having quite a resurgence. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising given that we’ve spent much of the last two years in lockdown, sitting around our living rooms, looking for something to do. The most popular games are Monopoly, Ludo and, yes, Scrabble. Interestingly enough, the classic crossword game is most popular in French countries (they play Francophone Scrabble there).
Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that game players are turning to Scrabble during the pandemic. The board game was invented at another time in history when Americans huddled together in their homes and focused on survival — in 1933, during the Great Depression.
If you think the game requires a lot of analysis, just wait till you hear how it was invented. Alfred Mosher Butts, an out of work architect from Poughkeepsie, New York diagnosed what made certain games like checkers, more popular than others. He divided them into three types 1) move games such as checkers 2) number games e.g. bingo and 3) word games like anagrams. Butts even hypothesized how to make anagrams more popular: "There is one thing that keeps word games from being as popular as card games — they have no score."
You probably see where this is going. The inventor combined elements of anagrams and crossword puzzles into a scoring game, originally titled Lexico and later christened Criss Cross Words. Even the distribution of game tiles came from careful study. Butts reportedly reviewed the repetition of specific letters on the front page of the New York Times to calculate how often the letters appear in the bag. Oh, and the name Scrabble? After being rejected by several gaming companies, Butts teamed up with entrepreneur James Brunot and decided on the name Scrabble, which is generally defined as to "grasp, collect or hold onto something."
Scrabble fans get very passionate about the game, memorizing lists of two-letter words, studying the moves of master players, and turning the tiles into clever word crafts. Below you’ll find ideas for how to make Scrabble tile message board, decorative frame, ornaments, necklace and a lot more.
If you’re wondering where to get all of those extra tiles without pilfering your game, you can find them on Amazon and sBay.
1. Message Board or Mosaic
A message board is a fun way to turn you passion for Scrabble into personalized wall art. You can transform a fun saying into a crossword or even reference family members and their hobbies. If you’re struggling to arrange your phrases into a horizontal and vertical lines, some online tools can quickly unscramble the words.
In the above video, Carnival of Creativity uses an IKEA box frame and lining paper to make a sleek scrabble message board out of spare tiles. The biggest challenges will be lining up, spacing and centering your letters. You’ll need the help of a ruler and steady hands. Start with the center word and work outward.
If you want to add a little more visual flair to your Scrabble layout, you can build it out to a mosaic. You’ll want to choose items that complement the phrase, such as seashells for a beach themed picture or hearts for a romantic layout. You may also want the backing canvas to be a different color than white. You can find more inspiration from Tingalls Tiles (a company that sells word tile crafts) .
2. Magnetic Scrabble Board for Events (like Weddings) or Home Decor
Magnetic word tiles can be fun for your refrigerator, home decor or as a party favor. Jac Alane Arts shows how to glue mini magnets to the back of letter tiles. She actually uses plastic tiles from the game Bananagrams, instead of Scrabble tiles (which are usually wood), but you can do this project with either.
The metal board (if you need one) is made out of a framed sheet of galvanized steel, which can be found at Home Depot or Lowe’s. You make need snips to cut it down. If you want to make them for an event like a wedding, you can make one big tile board for guests to play with or smaller individual ones for guests to take home and play with as a keepsake.
If you want coasters that make for distinctive conversation pieces, Scrabble tiles make for great materials. Not only can you hide words in the coasters, you can also design some with word themes. Gabriela Rodiles glues a four by four square of tiles on top of a piece of backing cork, using the corners to ensure the lines are straight. Cover the Scrabble tiles with varnish to ensure they’re water resistant.
4. Christmas Ornaments
In a tree filled with red and green balls, Scrabble ornaments can stand out with sayings that go beyond the standard Christmas card phrases. To make these holiday baubles, Creative Kin lined up and used a hot glue gun to attach them to the felt backing. a gold ribbon tops off the design.
5. Scrabble Necklace
You’ve probably seen Scrabble necklaces for sale on Etsy or at a craft fair. They’re relatively easy to make, but require some specific equipment and materials. Beyond Scrabble tiles, you’ll needle nose head pliers, a lobster clasp, jump ring, a chain and hook and eye screws.
Twisting the hook and eye screws into the tiles requires good eye-hand coordination and a little patience (as does a lot of jewelry making). If you can make these Scrabble necklaces without too much trouble, you could just start your own jewelry business.
Bonus Video: Scrabble Highs and Lows
Any fan of Scrabble will appreciate stories of great moves and mistakes. A few years ago, the New Yorker interviewed several master Scrabble players about the turns they mull over again and again. The stories are fascinating and inspiring. One talks about how if his opponent put two letters down he could make a bingo (50 point bonus word for using all of your tiles) and then his opponent did just that. Another describes a time that if she hadn't challenged a word she would have one by one point. A third remembers the time she missed the optimal placement for a word. These are all goofs we've done, but to hear top-level players recount their stumbles is heartening.