For our fall party a couple of years ago I decided to make some of my own décor. I had been seeing so many cute fall signs at the store, and even more cute ones online that people had made out of wood and paint. And I thought, well I’ve got plenty of barn wood– I can make my own, too!
I asked my husband to nail together a few boards to get me started. I told him I didn’t want perfectly square edges because I was going for a more rustic look. And he totally got the memo.
I then read like 792,980 tutorials to figure out just how I was going to do this. I knew I could master the first step: haphazardly brush some paint across the boards. Easy. I chose white because I almost always choose white. And just like that, the first step was done.
Now for the second step, which ends up turning into more like five or six steps total. Painting the letters. I tried free-handing first. Turns out I’m not cut out for that. Wish I had a picture, but maybe it’s best that I don’t. I know a friend of mine who free-hands all of her handmade signs, and they are GORGEOUS. But it just doesn’t work out that way for me.
I ended up using the tracing method. I typed the words in the size and font I wanted in just a regular Word document, then printed them out. Because I needed rather large letters this meant that only a couple of letters fit on each page, and a lot of paper was printed. But it was the easiest way, and it worked. I then taped the papers together to form the words, and rubbed chalk all over the BACK side of the paper. This allows for the letters to get transferred onto your board. **Just make sure you choose a chalk color that contrasts with the color your painted your boards.** I placed the papers onto my boards and arranged them how I wanted (with the printed letter side UP), and then taped them in place. I took a pen and traced each individual letter. This part takes a while. But if you use enough pressure and take your time, it really works well.
When I removed the papers, wa-lah! The tracing left perfectly outlined letters in chalk on the painted boards. I grabbed my teeny tiny paintbrushes and craft paint, and started outlining each letter. Once I had a solid outline I filled in the rest of the letters. Depending on the size of your letters, you can switch to a bigger brush to get the job done more quickly and with less brush strokes.
So, to recap:
Step 1: Find any old boards you like and glue or nail together as needed.
Step 2: Choose a background paint color (or no color if you wish), and haphazardly paint your board for a rustic, “old” look.
Step 3: Type your letters in a Word document (or something similar), and choose the font and size you desire. Trial and error sometimes happens here!
Step 4: Arrange your letters and words. Cut extra paper and tape letters together, if needed.
Step 5: Pick a contrasting chalk color and rub the back side of the paper. Make sure you chalk every spot you will be tracing from the other side.
Step 6: Arrange papers on your board, and tape in place.
Step 7: Trace over your letters. Go over a couple of times if needed. I found myself peeling back an edge of paper to peek and see if my tracing was imprinting the chalk.
Step 8: Remove papers and start painting!
Step 9: Protect and finish your sign with a clear enamel spray, especially if your sign will be outside!
Good luck and have fun! If I can do it, so can you!!