Thursday, October 6

How to Make a Handpainted Sign Tutorial

Have you ever stumbled across something on the web and said "They want how much for that?? I could make one myself!" Most often I do just that, but alas, very rarely do I ever get down to work and actually 'make' what ever 'it' happens to be. Painted name signs are one of those things... I love them! Have been browsing through Etsy looking at different styles, etc.. and finally decided to take the plunge. Here is a quick tutorial on how to make your own, custom, hand painted wall plaque, wall art, sign, whatever.. :)

First, you need a board or canvas. I prefer wood. We have a ton of scrap lumber in the basement left over from our home construction. I found a tongue and grove piece, maybe 12" by 28". I'm not exactly sure how big it is, it's hanging up above my sink and I don't want to climb up there and measure. But size doesn't matter.. you'll see.. I wanted black letters on a white background, so, dah, I painted the entire thing white. With acrylics. Again, what I had on hand.

Now, to the computer! :) I typed our name into Microsoft Office and adjusted the font BIG. The size of your font is not limited to the numbers that pop down, you can click on the font size box and type in any number you choose. Did you know that?? Really slick for making fonts BIG. I guesstimated the size I wanted the letters, (if you scale your word processing screen view to be the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper you can see the font at the exact size it'll print. I think the font size I used was 130. Only three letters would print per line.. MOO and then below that was NEY. I changed fonts for the 'est. 2003' just, well, I like that look.

HINT: Print your letters in light grey!! That way you use way less black ink than if they were solid black. You just need to see the edge clearly.. grey works fine. Trim out your letters/words and place them on your board the way you'd like them. Make sure they fit and that you have centered them. Nothing will peeve you more than going through this whole process to find that your work isn't centered.

Next, old school it. Flip your papers over and scribble with the edge of a pencil all over the back making sure to cover where the letters are on the other side. (If you have tracing paper you can use that instead). Place them back on position on your board and tape them down. (they won't slide around on you that way.)

Trace over all the edges of the letters and transfer their outline to the painted surface.

Now comes the harder part for most.. take your time, use a small, well made paint brush with a fine point (crappy cheap doesn't cut it here AT ALL!) When you have a nicely made paint brush in your hand you'll be amazed at the quality of painting you can do!! Fill in all of the letters/numbers as best as possible. Hold your hand steady, water down your paint (acrylics work fine) just slightly to help the paint flow if needed. Don't sweat the waggles and jogs, the next steps can take care of that.

Now, step back and let it dry. OVER NIGHT at least. Nothing will make you swear faster than trying to sand wet paint. It ain't purrrty, I tell ya.

Ok, now you need a sanding block or sandpaper. Go at it!! distress those corners and take off paint! It'll smooth out the surface and you really can't hurt it. It all just adds character.

Wipe with a slightly damp paper towel or a tack cloth to remove the dust. (I used paper towel.. it's what I had on hand) You can choose to leave your piece like that or you can stain it.. which I chose, just to age it a bit more.

Again, using acrylic paint I mixed brown paint and water to the thickness of milky coffee. You want a deeper color? Use less water or a darker brown... I dobbed (technical term) a paper towel in the watery mix and wiped it on the sign and then wiped it off... I did this several times until I reached the effect I was going for. Just a little bit of color in the corners and on the surface to take away the glare of the pure white.

That's it! Attach a hanger to the back or prop it up on a table or shelf . the nice thing about making it? when I get tired of it, I can trash it. Hey, you make the art, you have the right to toss it out! Or change it, or give it away, or break it, or paint over it..



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