I made this not-so-little wood sign for a friend last week. This is one of my favorite signs I have had the opportunity to make because the style departs a bit from what I have done before. Once I had a handle on what kind of vibe she was looking for I got to get a little creative in making it. I like how it turned out, and fortunately she did, too!
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To make the sign I used a piece of 3/4″ birch plywood. I wanted something smooth to work with, and just happened to have this piece of scrap from our fireplace redesign, so that was kind of a lucky break. You cannot whitewash light wood, so I started by staining it darker. I used Minwax Special Walnut, but the particular shade is not terribly important as you are just looking to dark up the under layer.
Next I whitewashed the board with a 50-50 mixture of white paint and water. Again, the shade of white is not terribly important here. I brushed it on, let it sit for a minute, then lightly wiped it off. I did that a couple of times until I liked the look. I think the sign would also have looked fine if it were just painted white, but in this case my friend wanted to see a little wood grain.
Next up, lettering. On most signs I am comfortable enough to hand letter, but in this case the larger size made me reluctant to stretch my abilities that far. So I simply mocked up what I wanted the lettering to look like using PicMonkey, then printed that photo to Staples on an engineering print.
To transfer the letters I chalked the backside of the paper, then flipped the paper back over and placed it down on my board. I taped it in place to avoid shifting, then used a ball point pen to trace the lettering onto the board. The chalk on the backside of the paper transfers to the board, creating a light outline of each of the letters. Tracing also forms a small groove in the board that you can follow even if the chalk fades. How easy is that?!
My usual method is to hand paint the letters. It takes forever, but it is oddly relaxing. I love to put on an HGTV show and paint, it’s completely zen for me. I personally prefer the look to vinyl letters, but that is another easy method you can totally use. However, all that said, I decided to make this a bit easier on myself and I used Sharpie pens to trace the letters. Seriously. Just. That. Easy.
Next, I cut out some 1×2 boards to make the frame, and painted them with a sample of Valspar paint. As it happened, paint samples were on sale for $1 each at Lowes that day, so that was a small but satisfying win.
I attached the frame with glue and some clamps, then reinforced it with a few finish nails. To hang it I used this french cleat system. If you haven’t tried these before, do it. These things make hanging a breeze. You attach one part of the cleat to the piece you are hanging, and the other to the wall. The cleat on the back of the artwork simply slides down into the wall cleat, and snugs into place. Because you hang them level you never have to worry about whether your art is level. That was probably a terrible description, but believe me, they really make the process easy.
So here it is, all finished and hanging in its new home. I’m always honored when somebody trusts me to create something they will use or hang in their home. It is a nerve-wracking process at times, but it sure is fun to see your work on display!