I’ve wanted to make my own sign(s) for a long time and in March, I finally went with a friend to a little workshop. They put carbon paper under a photocopied design and then traced the design to transfer it onto the wood.
I did the workshop and had fun making the sign, but felt a bit limited by the choices available. However, the workshop did exactly what it should….it inspired me to design my own!
One of the things that I’ve been working on this summer is trying to decorate my front porch. We’ve always had furniture on the porch, but it totally lacked anything even remotely “pretty”. Although I love our porch, I’ve avoided putting much thought or effort into it because I’m always faced with the same issue….the colour of my house! I really don’t like it, but I know that we will not be investing in a paint job until it actually needs to be painted. Despite the limitations of the house colour, our patio cushions desperately needed to be upgraded and I had to somehow make a decision on what colour to get to go with our house. As I scoured websites in search of something that would work, my creative juices got flowing and I found myself completely determined to get my porch looking better. So, today as I write this post, I still have no cushions. We did end up ordering some and are awaiting delivery, but in the mean time I’ve been busy transforming our space.
- Computer/iPad – design your sign
- Printer – print off your design
- painters tape
- prepared board for sign – primed and painted or stained
- ball point pen for etching in your design
- acrylic paint (make sure to use outdoor paint if your sign is going outside)
- very fine tipped brush for outlining and possibly a fatter tip for larger areas (I have my favourite brushes that I use depending on the project I’m doing. This can really be more about personal preference. I don’t like a brush that has too “floppy” of bristles when I am doing intricate work.)
Simple Steps to Making Your Own Sign:
- Design your sign. I did this on the computer…choosing fonts and images that I wanted to include. I then scaled the design size to meet my needs and printed the it off. (FYI Image quality is not super important as you can smooth out any pixels when you trace.)
- Find a board. This step might come first depending on your space. I made my design first and then altered it to the board size. If you have a plan for your sign, you want to make sure you consider your board size for the wall/place you want to put it.
- Prep your board. Depending if it has been previously painted or not, you may need to prime first. Also, if your sign is going outside, you will want to use exterior paint. Give ample time for your paint to dry.
- Layout your images/text on your board and use painters tape to hold in place.
- No need for carbon paper! Instead, I use a ball point pen and trace the outline of all of my letters and images on the paper. You need to press firmly because the goal is to etch or groove the wood to mark the outlines. You will not see ink, but rather a groove.
- Working in a well lighted area, carefully follow your outlines (grooves) and fill in each image/letter with paint. One thing to be mindful of as you paint…I find that I have a preferred direction when I am painting. I am more comfortable when I can position my hand a certain way and when I don’t have a blind spot blocking the direction I am headed. This may sound confusing, but it’s all about steadiness, lighting and comfort level. If/when you figure out what works best for you, strategically paint in a way that allows you to do your best work. You will also want to consider moving from left to right if you are right handed so that you are not going to smudge what you’ve already painted. This isn’t hard, just take a moment to “fake” paint first. See what feels good and take notice of which direction you want to paint in. I noticed some people in the class saying “I wasn’t thinking, I should have started over here.” or “I should have worked in this direction.” My point is just to take a moment to think about it before you dive right in. (Again, if it is going outdoors, use outdoor paint. For my sign, I just used regular exterior house paint for the board and then picked up a few small bottles of exterior craft paint from Michael’s for the lettering and images.)
- Allow to dry and hang or prop up as desired.
Do not be overwhelmed by this project. Seriously, from start to finish, this might have taken me a few hours. The tracing takes the longest and that was probably about 45 minutes. I love the way this sign turned out as it makes our entrance look so much more inviting!
*I slipped a 500ml empty plastic coke bottle into the galvanized pitcher so that I could add water and use it like a vase. Works perfectly!