Walk into a crafts or home furnishings store today and notice all the signs: rows upon rows of pre-fabricated signs that speak of love, blessings, family and home.
There’s the ubiquitous “Live, Laugh, Love” and “Kiss the cook.” Other signs offer guidance for staying strong, building courage or getting happy.
Those signs can’t be that difficult to make — and personalize — ourselves, right?
If you want to make signage with a folksy, imperfect bent, then sure, that’s easy to do. If you’re after something more sophisticated — if you’d like to create signs for the home that mirror those sold in stores — there’s a little more work involved.
LeAnne Stowe of Overland Park, Kan., says that if perfection is not the goal, signs are “super easy to make.” She started handcrafting some a year ago, after viewing a tutorial on the website Pinterest.
They fit well with Stowe’s interest in refurbishing “rescued relics,” aka flea-market finds, which she sells on her Facebook page, Annie’s Barn.
She paints her signs mostly on inexpensive pine boards or recycled barn wood.
“People love the rustic feel of barn wood,” Stowe says.
In the beginning, she painted on stretched cotton canvas — cheap and available at any crafts store — using vinyl letters and acrylic paint (spray paint works, outside or in a well-ventilated room). Place the vinyl letters on the canvas, spray or brush paint over the entire surface (then maybe again for a second coat after the first one dries), lift off the lettering and voila!
The canvas itself can be painted or wrapped (and stapled in back) with a vibrant fabric beforehand to give the message added pizazz.
Stowe distresses the cheap pine boards with a hammer and other tools; she treats the barn wood with a bleach-and-water mixture to kill tiny critters. She follows that with a coat of primer, then paint, often latex. She arranges her vinyl letters, then rolls a contrasting color of paint over the entire surface.
After the letters are removed and the paint dries, Stowe distresses the piece with sandpaper. She drills holes at the top for baling wire for hanging.
Finally, she seals the sign with a clear wax — she uses Annie Sloan Soft Wax — to make it weather-resistant for hanging outdoors.
Her sentimental signs sell best, but her “snarky” signs (“Trust me you can dance.” — Vodka) get posted to Facebook.