from wood to wall – the making of a sign

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well, the sign is finished and on the wall. it feels good. and to be honest, i absolutely love it. having a one-of-a-kind piece is pretty awesome to me. 

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so as promised, below is a detailed tutorial on how everything came together. just a warning, this post is going to be a little long. there are a lot, i mean A LOT, of photos. so, i’m going to try and be as brief as possible with my wording. ready?

i started off with two 1x12x8s from the local hardware store. they were about $13 each.

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other than some knots they were in pretty good shape. i wanted my wood a little weathered, so i got out some ‘tools of destruction’.

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i pounded heavily with both sides of the hammer. sawed the edges. beat it with some chain. i sanded down most of the sharp corners.  (i ended up not really using the screw driver. ) it’s hard to tell in the photos below but you’ll see more of the ‘beaten look’ after the next step.

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on pinterest i discovered you could age wood with steel wool and vinegar. after doing some research (it seems there are several ways to do this process) here what i came up with.

in two pans (don’t use good tupperware. oops!) i placed a piece of steel wool. to one added apple cider vinegar, the other balsamic vinegar. no specific amounts here.

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 i waited about 30 minutes.  then, with rubber gloves, i used the soaked wool to scrub the wood. the picture on the right is the after.

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 i then did the same with the balsamic and steel wool.

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this is how the wood looked after about 15 – 20 minutes. 

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you can see more of the grain and the markings i made with my tools of destruction are much more obvious.

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here’s the wood completely dry. i was really pleased with the results. i will be doing this again for sure.

i’m assuming that you could take it even further if you let the steel wool soak longer. or do more applications.

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the wood even took on a speckled look. a friend on facebook, after seeing these pictures, thought it actually was old wood.

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then i joined together both pieces of wood, on the back, with joining strips. four of them. 

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following that, i penciled on my design. i used a plate for the circle of the sun. the rays were just randomly placed. no measurements. i don’t do well with instructions and measurement when it comes to painting. and yes, i’m using a quilting ruler. 

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i decided to paint my red outlines first. though, looking back, it may have been easier to put these in last. 

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a sun! things are finally taking shape.

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i then applied some blue painters tape to preserve the red lines. i had to paint over the red that the tape didn’t cover so that it wouldn’t show throw my other paint. this is when i realized it may have been better to paint the red last. oh well, lesson learned.

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 i then picked a random collection of blues and yellows to fill in the rays of the sun.

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i intentionally wasn’t perfect when i was painting, leaving some of my weather wood showing through.

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i purposely avoided the nicks and dents i made earlier. i used cheap foam brushes to apply my paint.

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another thing i hate about painting is cleaning up. when i was done, the brushes went in the trash. 

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once everything was dry, who am i kidding… i have no patience, before everything was dry, i removed the tape to expose my beautiful red lines. perfect!

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next i gave everything i quick sand and then applied a white wash. just a mix of water and white paint. i worked quickly and wiped the paint with an old towel as i went. this gave me a sun faded look.

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i felt needed a few more distressed elements on the piece so i used a fork to create some worm/bug holes.

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i then went over the whole piece with a dark wash, just like the white wash. for this i used burnt umber paint and water.

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this darker color settled into all the distressed marks giving me a really aged and weathered look.

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done! well, the background anyway. next, i needed to add the text.

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i used a word processing program on my computer (iStudio) to pick fonts i liked. i then printed out a couple test pieces to get the size of the front right. the main font is haettenschweller and the script font is zapfino.

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 once i had everything printed out, i cut and taped the pieces of paper together.

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i then shaded in the back of the paper with the printed text. i used a pencil to color everything in.  personally, this works best for me. i’ve tried chalk (rubs off to easy) and carbon paper (turns your paint blue). this is time consuming and a pain-in-the-you-know-what, but it works.

once the back is shaded in, i flipped the paper over and positioned it onto the sign. i then trace the letters. this tracing transfers the shading you just did to the sign creating an outline for you to paint. make sense?

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 then i painted! i do mix in a couple drops of water to my white paint for an easy and smooth application.

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yes, i’m a lefty. any other lefties out there?!

i bought these paint brushes at wal-mart and have found a couple that work well for me. these i do wash and keep.

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i gave all the letters two coats of paint with a very light sanding in between. then, i erased any visible pencil lines.

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and that’s it! complete! ain’t she purdy?

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i choose to not put any sort of top coat on the piece as it will be indoors.

to hang it, i drilled two small holes into the back of the wood. then i put two screws into the wall. i put the holes on the screws and the sign was securely hung! or so i hope.

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like i said, i love unique, one-of-a-kind pieces and if this isn’t one of them, then i don’t know what is. the whole thing cost me under $35. i basically had to buy the wood, steel wool, joining strips and a couple brushes.

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and the style, colors and sentiment are a perfect fit for the space.

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and even though my head is way to big for this hat, i’m pretty darn pleased with my work.

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i hope this little tutorial was helpful. let me know if you have questions.

do you think you’ll be making a sign of your own?

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***I’m sorry, but do to a ridiculous amount of spam, I had to to off comments to this post. If you have a question or would like to comment, please email me. Thank you!


I’m linking this post up to this awesomeness:

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I would be so honored and excited to be a Home Show Designers! 

Thanks to The Painted Home and the Philadelphia Home Show

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links as part of the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that inspiredbycharm.com receives a small commission by linking to Amazon.com and other sites at no cost to the readers.

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Comments

  • Beth at

    Yes I love it! Good job! And I am a lefty too!

  • catz at

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this Michael! Oh and did I happen to mention I LOVE this awesome, one of a kind sign? LOL

  • Wendy at

    Love love love it!! Amazing, and thank you so very much for the tutorial. I can’t wait to try this out myself. It turned out just beautiful!

  • Amanda at

    LOVE! love. Definitely inspired me to try my *right* hand at it 🙂

  • Brenda at

    great sign — thanks for the video — try using graphite paper – its not smudgy like carbon paper, basically like a pencil – works great for me … erase any lines before giving a sealer coat – or use chaco paper, which is water soluable and dissolves as you paint over it…

  • srpprcrftr at

    Hey leftie, sounds like there are a few lefties out there. My husband is also. My youngest son is ambedextrous. My Mother and brother were also lefties. Out of 6 grandkids, 1 is ambedextrous like his Dad and one is a leftie.
    Anyway. just found your blog today and love love that sign.You’ve definitely inspired me to take it up again. We have some old pallets out in yard that I’ll start with since we don’t have money to buy lumber. Think there’s some across road at empty house too I might decide to look into. Oh boy here I go.
    We used to make smaller country signs in MT and KY. Sold alot in MT but KY havestrange habit. If they want something they want it for nothing and insult it and seller first. I used to stencil or hand print on the signs and put a strip of material to match the sign on the wire hanger. That’s probably old now so will find a new style.
    Great tutorial by the way. Thanks for sharing.

    of signs that I stenciled and always put a scrap of material on the hanger. They were country type signs for country decorating and were one of our best sellers. This was in MT and haven’t had the chance to do any stuff like that since, even in KY. In KY every craft show I went to people wanted everything for nothing after they insulted the piece and me. Must have been some kind of KY thing.

  • Anonymous at

    Makes me happy – I WILL tackle this project one day 🙂 Thanks for the idea & amazing instructions/photos!

  • Anonymous at

    yes i would love to make a sign of my own!! nd i am a lefty too!! we are pretty artsy people id say 🙂 thanks for this great tutorial
    1

  • Yvette at

    That is great! I wish I had the patience to complete something like that! I love it!

  • Anonymous at

    Love, love, love the sign. One option for shading the back of the paper is to use the wide contractor pencils from Lowes, Home Depot or any hardware store. The lead is maybe 3/8″ wide so it covers fairly quickly.

  • Anonymous at

    great job!!!! this sign looks professional!!!!!
    you have inspired me to try and design a sign 🙂
    thanks for your wonderful tutorial!!!

  • Lydia at

    Awesome job teaching us how to replicate your beautiful sign! I’m a lefty and love it!

  • ~S~Barefoot&Busy at

    THANK YOU! This is going to be my next “sunny day” project, soon as I get my hands on some wood. Just me, a board, sweet sun tea, outside with the paint. yeahhhh buddy! =)

  • Julie at

    Wow! That’s probably the coolest handmade sign I’ve seen online and it’s so sweet of you to create a tutorial. Thank you! (Love the colors!)

  • jhager0113 at

    LOVE this and plan on trying it. Because I’ve never done anything like it before, I’m not sure what kind of paint to use. Is there a specific kind?

  • Bernadette @ B3HD at

    Stopped by from the Lettered Cottage to look at the unique curtain hanging rod and mouth fell open at how simple you made this sign painting look. Wanted to do a sign for a while now and might (just might) have the guts to do it now.

    Pinned this. One of your newest blog stalkers.

  • Amy at

    Beautiful job! I love it! Thank you for sharing!

  • MissyMack at

    Amazing job!! Thank you for your detailed descriptions on how to tackle it – I will definitely be wanting to try this now! Thanks!

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