Saturday, July 14, 2012

DIY wooden signs

I saw a bunch of cute cute hand painted wooden signs when I was traveling in Costa Rica.  And since then I've seen them sold in many places.  When I was getting married I thought of buying some off Etsy, but figured why not tackle it as a DIY project?

It turned out to be an easy project, but I had a lot of trial and error with type of paint brushes bought, types of paint, etc, etc.  So here is the HOW TO without the extra stuff you don't need.  This project will take a few days to allow for the paint the dry in between coats & stenciling.

1. wooden board
2. transfer paper or carbon paper
3. medium to large sponge brush (per background color you will use)
4. 2-3 smaller bristle paint brushes, size depends on the font you will use.
5. paint
6. a pencil to trace the font 
7. chose the sayings and fonts and print off your computer (if you need larger font you may have to do an old-school cut and paste with actual scissors and tape)
8. masking tape

Paint the background color of the board using the larger sponge brushes.  Note on the paint label how long you will need to wait for it to dry.

While the paint dries, print out what you want to stencil.  My signs said:

i do
we did

After the background paint has dried (consider 2 coats if you want something more opaque or just one coat if you want the wood texture to come through a bit more, see bottom pic for an example of the 2 looks), tape the transfer paper onto the board.   Tape only at 1 side, or lightly tape, so you can lift it up and check out your transfer.  Also, be sure to tape the brighter side down so that the color goes onto the board.  This may be obvious but I had the paper the backwards the first time.  Note that you can reuse the same bit of paper a few times so don't throw it away.  My picture shows a big hunk of paper that I realized later that I could reuse the parts that weren't traced on.

STEP 4.  
Tape the computer print out over the transfer paper.  You can see where I had to tape the "cockt" and "ails" together because I wanted the font larger than could be printed on one 8 x 11 sheet of paper.

You can use a pencil (or red pen!) to trace the outline of the font.  Make sure you check that the tracing is being transferred.

trace over the computer print out

check to make sure the transfer paper worked?

you can see the yellow transfer if you look closely

Use a smaller bristle brush and paint the font.  Note that dabbing can be as effective as brushing paint on, especially if the wood has gnarly knots or rough nicks in it.

in progress ...


DETAILS on materials, where to buy, etc:

For the wooden boards, I went to the hardware store wood section and grabbed someone to help me.  I ended up with 2 five foot planks of redwood because of lower cost and texture (thought I would need to  use sand paper to get a distressed look but that was extraneous). I had them cut each board into 3 pieces and used the front and back of each wood piece to save money.  So my "Welcome" & "cocktail" signs became the "Thank" & "You" signs for the end of the night. 

I bought the transfer paper at a Flax store in San Francisco on Market street.  The lightest color they had was yellow.  If you plan to paint over the tracing, it doesn't matter what color you buy, but consider a lighter trace paper for darker wood and darker trace color on lighter wood.

I bought a small can of flat house paint that I got at the hardware store and also craft store paint in small tubes.  You definitely get more bang for the buck with the house paint and I found the consistency to be easier to work with, however you can mix the craft paint with water to thin it out a bit.

I bought eyelet screws to put at each corner and used ribbon to hang them from garden hooks which were staked into the ground.  *Hopefully I"ll have a pic when my wedding photog gets our pictures to us.  She was great at photographing all the details and although my wedding dress had pockets, I did not have my camera on me that day!  

(wood on the left was painted with one background coat and the wood on the right had 2 coats)

Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be happy to try to answer them!  Next up:  stamping kraft notebooks for a personalized take-home gift.

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