A few years ago, my friends and I decided to do homemade Christmas gifts for each other. It's funny because after that, one of my friends went on to turn the gifts she made into a lucrative business. Mostly I just really enjoyed being thrifty (of course) and also taking the time to be really thoughtful.
I decided that I wanted to do homemade gifts again this past Christmas for my friends. Not just because it was fun for me to be creative, but because I had already came up with a great idea, thanks to some lyrics from The Head and the Heart.
See, every time I hear their song "Rivers and Roads," I can't help but think of my framily and how we're all separated across the states, but we'll take rivers and roads to be together from time to time. So I decided I wanted to make a sign they could hang in their respective apartments or homes, so that every time they saw the sign, they would think of me and our group.
I am honestly not super crafty in the DIY projects area, so naturally I would have to enlist the help of dear ole mom and dad. I have the ideas, but I just can't fully execute own my own! So below is a step-by-step tutorial of how to make your own handpainted sign. I didn't do a great job of documenting each step with photos, so I'll just have to do a better job of explaining them.
Step One: Clean and assemble
We were able to purchase planks from a friend of my mom's. I think these came from an old barn. I had my dad cut the planks into several pieces that were a little more than a foot long. Once these were cut, I took a wire brush and cleaned each piece, then used the air compressor to blow off the saw dust, dirt, etc.
My dad nailed two of the wood pieces together and then nailed a square piece of plywood to the back of them. This was done to reinforce the wood and also to help flatten the back out. He also drilled a hole in the top on the back so that if my friends wanted to hang the sign, they could simply use that hole to place in a nail on the wall (funny story here, wait for it...).
Step Two: Pencil words onto board
Now that your signs are assembled, it's time to put the words on them. I chose to pencil mine out first so I would have the option to erase any mistakes and just trace over the words with paint afterward. If you're sure of your handwriting and painting abilities, I think it's ok if you decide to skip this step.
Note: Make sure that if you drill a hole in back for ease of hanging the sign, then be sure that you flip the sign over first so that you write the words right side up. Yeah, that's that funny story I was telling you about. I think only one of my signs ended up being written right side up. oops!
Step Three: Paint the words
Now it's time to trace over the pencil with your paint. I really wanted to go for a natural look since my friends all have different styles in the way they decorate. I thought by leaving the wood its natural color and using just a creamy white, then it should look good in pretty much any home or outdoor area. If you have a certain color scheme you are going for, you can definitely paint your wood before you pencil and paint the words onto your sign.
As you can see, I used just a regular acrylic paint and a small paint brush that would allow me to write easily. It was very easy to see my pencil marks and just paint over them. And even though I don't have the best handwriting, at least everything was spaced out pretty much evenly!
Step Four: Enjoy your finished product
Once you've painted all the words, all you have to do is let the signs dry and you are done! Again, I wanted a natural finished look, so I did not use a coat of sealant or paint over the words. But I think it's worth experimenting with several types, colors, etc of paint and see what type of look you like best or need for certain occasions. That's if you have the time, of course.
With the help of my parents, I made seven signs in probably about 3 to 4 hours—from start to finish. So this is definitely a doable project to finish in just one day for wedding signs or for children rooms or something for your own home. All you need is some wood, a saw, a brush, a pencil and some paint. Easy peasy, right?!
ps. I only painted the ending lines of the song on the sign, but you'll get to see the other design part of their gift where I used all of the lyrics to create another piece of art. that's for a future post!