Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A DIY Sign Project

So, remember the pile of stuff that I shared with you that I picked up Friday?  There was a drawing board in the pic that I said I thought I would use to make a sign... Here's that pic again...

Well, I went online and searched through some images of vintage signs, and I found one that I thought would be cute in the kitchen.

It was more of a "square" design when you look at the size, but I thought I could draw it in a more vertical way to fit the size of the board...in other words, I would elongate the arrow and make it work.

So, here's my board...I'm working on the dining room table.  I do have a studio, but somehow I always find myself migrating back downstairs to the table...maybe it's the great light that flows in through the window, or maybe I'm tired of running up and down stairs...Anyway, I'm set up near water in the kitchen, which is always a good thing when you're working with paint.

  • I started drawing on some newsprint, using a soft artist's pencil--the arrow first, then the blue part.  Then I did the lettering using stencils as a guide.  I sort of "tweaked" on each letter to get something that I liked.

  • Then, to transfer the drawing to the board, I will add some graphite to the back.  In order to see where to add the graphite, I will use a Sharpie to mark the lines on the front.
  • Using a Sharpie fine tip marker, go over the lines that you've just drawn.  Just do the arrow and blue part...we will get to the letters later in another step.

  • Now, flip the drawing over.  The Sharpie lines should be visible on the back.  This is your guide that shows you where to put the graphite from the pencil.  Using your artist's pencil, "color" in the area where the line needs to transfer.  Make sure to put a good bit so that you will get a good transfer.

It should look like this when it's finished...

  • Now, flip the drawing back over so that you are looking at the front side.  Trim the sides of the paper so that you can see the entire board and get good placement.

  • Using the artist's pencil, draw over the Sharpie marks pressing down firmly enough to make the marks transfer, but not hard enough to leave impressions in the wood.  Lift a corner to check for a good transfer.  If it is not working, you did not put enough graphite on the back.  It should look similar to this:

  • It's now time to start painting.  I did the blue part first, painting with a mix of two different colors to get just the color I wanted.  I used acrylic craft paint.  Now, simply paint within the lines.  Don't worry if you get outside the lines a little.  We will sand it at the end, so you can sand those places a little harder to "fix" any mistakes. 

  • Then, I mixed some reds to get a color I liked and painted the arrow the same way.

  • Let it dry for an hour or so.
  • When the blue and red paint is dry to the touch, you can transfer the lettering.  I cut out that part (the entire word part in one piece) because it made it easier to manage.  I put in on the blue part and moved it around to get the proper placement.  Then I slipped a piece of graphite paper underneath to transfer the letters.  You could also use the same technique we used for the arrow and blue part.  The reason I did the pencil on the back for that was because I didn't have a piece of graphite paper large enough.  I have a piece that will work for the lettering.
  • Using white acrylic craft paint, I painted the "EAT HERE" letters.
  • The lettering on the red arrow was a little tricky.  It s sort of curved and a mix of all caps and sort of a cursive style, so I did a preliminary go at it using white chalk.  When I had it like I liked, I moved on to the paint, using a small flat brush.  
  • Using the same paint, I made the "dots" around the arrow...I think they were lights in the vintage real sign.

  • I then put shadows on the arrow and EAT HERE letters with brown paint.  I also added white highlights to the red and blue parts.

  • Next, I added another layer of embellishment to the EAT HERE letters--a tiny silver line on the inside of each letter.  I used metallic silver acrylic craft paint and a tiny round brush.

  • I embellished the dots on the arrow a bit, too.  Just added a little brown mark at the bottom and a yellow one at the top of each one.

  • To give it a little age, I sanded a bit with a rough grit sandpaper.  Nothing fancy--just a folded piece and hand sanded.  Go with the grain of the wood for a nice look, and just take off as much or as little as you wish.  This is the time to hit those places where you got out of the lines a bit.

  • When you have the distressed part of it like you want, it's ready for a topcoat of some sort.  I used wax.  (You could also use a good polyurethane, but you will want to make sure it is a non-yellowing kind...you don't want your white letters turning yellow.) Before you apply the wax, you need to be sure that everything is nice and clean.  I dampened some paper toweling (lightly) and used it to lightly wipe over the painted piece to remove all sanded paint dust and residue.  Let it dry for a few minutes before waxing.

  • I applied the wax with a cloth, and buffed with another one.  Visually, it's hard to see much difference after the wax was added, but it does feel nice and silky smooth when I run my hand over it, and I know that it's sealed and protected.

That's it!  It now just needs a hanger on the back and it's ready to make an appearance in a kitchen somewhere.

I think this is where I say, "Ta Da!"...

Now, I need some more old boards...

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  1. I think shadowing is the hardest part, but you did a great job! It looks professionally done like a sign shop made it with their big printing machines!

    1. Wow, you just made my morning with the nice compliment! Thank you. The shadowing part can be tricky...

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Lorraine!
      I have some animal portraits that I need to work on next...I'll share those with you soon. There's one that you will appreciate.

  3. The sign looks amazing Judy! Love it!

  4. I love your fun sign...you did a wonderful job with it! Hopped over from Vintage Inspiration party!

    1. I'm glad you came to visit! Thank you for the sweet compliment.

  5. Hey girl...you need to make more signs for your shop space.,..this one is sooooo darn cute!!!


    1. Thank you, Linda! It was fun to make...I do want to make more, if I could only find more old board things. I guess I could always use new boards and just make them look old. This one is now in the shop. I took it down yesterday, along with one of those green boxes.

  6. I absolutely love this sign, Judy! Thanks so much for sharing it at the Vintage Inspiration Party. I'm giving you a shout-out on FB here - https://www.facebook.com/KnickofTime

    1. Thank you, Angie! And I appreciate you giving us the place to share things we make. Thanks so much for the FB shout-out! Very much appreciated.

  7. Your sign looks professionally done! I thought it was until I saw the DIY in your title! What a great job and so cute for the kitchen!

    1. Wow, thank you, thank you! That made my day, AnnMarie! I enjoy projects like this, so they do seem to always turn out better if I'm having fun. Appreciate the sweet comment.

  8. Replies
    1. Thank you, Sherry! It was a lot of fun to do.

  9. I love this Judy! What a great job you did with the 3-D lettering and aging~ it's fabulous! You definitely need more boards!

    1. Thank you, Jenna! I'm still searching for more.

  10. Excellent sign, with a detailed tutorial, it looks wonderful I love it! Pinning and featuring tomorrow at the Vintage Inspiration Party.

    1. Thanks so much! I appreciate the shares.