What’s Your Sign?

I have this total thing for old beaten up wood signs. I love them, I want them, I have to have them.

It all started a few years ago when I ran across some Lisa Weedn signs on HauteLook. I loved their whimsy and charm. The signs were painted on old boards and distressed. How cool was that?

Well, once I ordered one, I was slightly disillusioned. It was on MDF and some mechanized process transferred the image to the boards. They only looked distressed. It was still cute, but it wasn’t what I thought I saw. Beware the joys of online shopping. It still makes me smile to read it and think of my family.

Fast forward a couple years, and I’m minding my own business when I stumble upon this sign project from Tammy at Homespun Happenings. She painted a verse on an old pallet board and hung it in her bedroom. It had age and charm. I read all the directions and went right out and bought some charcoal pencils and paint pens–this was a project I could definitely handle. Then came the big question. What should I put on my sign. As you may have guessed, I went into stall mode. I see someone’s great idea, get ready to try my hand at it, and then can’t figure out how to translate it into real life.

I thought a verse on love and respect would be appropriate for our bedroom. I even have a navy paint sample from when we were checking out colors. But would white show up well? How detailed did I want to be?

Luckily, while I mulled over my options, I stumbled upon this photo on Pinterest.

Birthday date sign

Yes, it’s another blogger with another great idea. You can get someone else to make you this fabulous sign with your special dates, but I decided to combine the two ideas and make it myself. After all, I know the birthdays of my children, our anniversary, and even the dates me and the Mr were born. I thought I could figure this one out.

So I went to the garage to check out my stash of pallet boards made into signs. What you mean everyone doesn’t have a stack of ready to go signs in their garage? Let’s back track a minute. A few years back, the Mr remodeled the girls bathroom and then our bathroom at the old house. I still think of them with longing. Well, some of the components were huge and arrived on pallets. We had a pile of them in the backyard when I came up with a fabulous idea. Baby Girl (BG) loves painting and wants to be an art teacher. She could paint signs on these lovely pallets and sell them at the farmer’s market. She’d earn a little money and feed her entrepreneurial spirit. Unfortunately, the two of us just made a mess of tearing up pallets. The Mr ended up demoing them for us, and my dad made up about 20 signs.

Somehow my dreams of BG starting a cottage industry were just my dreams–not hers. She sold some, gave some away and hung the rest in the garage. (Remember the garage makeover?)

Needless to say, we had a few unpainted signs just waiting for a little personalization. So I picked out a sign and got all ready to give it a nice coat of navy. But then I looked at it, really looked at it, and liked the contrast in color between each board and the beauty of the bare wood. The cool thing about making up your own project, you can change your mind as often as you like.

Instead of the paint, I grabbed the tape measure and figured out just how big a space I was dealing with. The sign measured 14.5 x 18 inches. I created a publisher document and set up the poster size to those dimensions. Now numbers don’t justify (end up even on both sides) in a regular text box, so  I typed up our birthdays and me and the Mr’s anniversary in WordArt. I picked a nice, chunky, kind of old-fashioned font, and sized the box to fill the board. I printed out my number art, and tiled and taped until I wound up with a giant page of numbers.

Next, I flipped it over and scribbled over each number with charcoal pencils.

Then it was as simple as turning it back over, taping it into place, and tracing each of the numbers onto my boards. Somehow I forgot to take any photos of this step, but I’ll be honest my 40-something eyes had a harder time making out the design. Now BG’s 15-year-old eyes could pick it out just fine. I’ll blame the uneven boards sans paint rather than my failing eye sight; I’ll let you be the judge.

After the design was outlined, I filled in each number with a paint pen. Paint pens are a truly fabulous invention for the less than steady painter. My new sign looked very crisp, but that wasn’t exactly the look I was going for.

A little sandpaper came to the rescue.

After sanding the whole surface, it looked a lot more faded.

Sanding also muddied the wood, and ruined some of the contrast that I’d enjoyed. Oh well, I wiped it down with a wet rag and finished it off with a little clear coat.

Half the fun of my new sign was having my family guess what it was. Random numbers and our zip code were two of the favorite guesses, but eventually they figured it out.

And now it’s hanging in one of the sunny corners of the great room amongst some potted plants.

The great thing is, if it fades, it’ll look even better, and it cost less than $5 for the pencils and paint pen. I’m tempted to try another.

I love that it’s very personal without being totally in your face. I’m OK with people thinking it’s just random numbers, I know what’s what.

I can’t help it. Here’s one last look.

Have you made any artwork lately? How do you personalize your home?


7 thoughts on “What’s Your Sign?

  1. That turned out really great! I also liked where you hung it……in a place where you could see it at every crossing of the great room, but if you did not turn your head, you would not see it at all. Nice work. I just wish I had more walls in my home, as I like lots of color, and lots of ways to celebrate our family. One space is the short wall where I have displayed the art work of all our grandchildren that they made a couple of Christmas’s ago. I look at the framed pictures many times a day, and they give me such pleasure.

    • I love the idea of artwork from your grandchildren gracing your wall. When the girls were little, I used to hang there art on the kitchen cabinets. I saved all their Halloween crafts to hang up each year. The finger painting of the jack-o-lantern with giant ears is one of my favorites.

  2. I love this idea, and now I know what to do with the pallets that are hanging around. I, too, love pinterest, and saw some outdoor coffee tables made with pallets. We’ll see who gets to them first, me or the dh.

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