Hi! I hope you had a great Valentine’s day! Mine was perfect. My husband got me my all time favorite dessert, chocolate ganache cake with raspberries…he’s really cool like that! I got to relax and watch as many romantic hallmark movies as I wanted, played games with my children and hung out with my grandchildren. Perfect.
I mentioned in my post The Valentine’s Bench that I would show you a picture of a salvaged wood sign that I had made. This is it! My La Vie est BELLE or Life is Beautiful sign. I am so proud of this sign and it is just….so me.
I am really good at writing, not writing writing, but handwriting. When I was in fourth grade, we were graded on penmanship. Does anyone remember being graded on penmanship? Those were the days. Oops, I’m pretty sure I just aged myself!
Anyway, we used to have these thin, super thin sheets of gray paper with two straight lines and a dotted line in the middle. We had to, repeatedly, write each letter of the alphabet over and over again until we got it right. I took great pride in my handwriting, so much so, I competed to get the highest grade! I was in competition with this little girl named Beth. She and I used to get the highest grades. Man, if she got an A+ and I didn’t, I was horrified! So I worked really hard to make my handwriting nice.
When I graduated high school, I wanted to major in Creative Writing in college. What I thought Creative Writing was and what it really was, two totally different things. I thought it was Creative Handwriting (boy are my cheeks red :)). I was told I could take Art, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to learn to make beautiful letters and flourishes or Typography as it’s called now. That wasn’t an option, so I got married and became a mom….the best job ever!
I love a beautifully painted sign. When someone has taken the time and really thought out the design, my eye is drawn right to it. Until recently, I had been painting signs I had seen online. These are a few of the ones I have completed.
Aren’t they beautiful typestyles? I love them. Of course, I have a love affair (don’t tell my husband) with all fonts. So much so that I crashed a computer because I downloaded too many free fonts on to it. So much so that when I drive down the road and see store signs, I either cringe or smile at their choice of typestyles/fonts. My husband laughs at me because it drives me crazy!
So, when it came time to design my own sign, I was nervous. But I am here to tell you, don’t be! It is so exhilarating to choose your own fonts, lay them out on the computer and watch it become something beautiful.
Do you remember the commercial for the Art Instruction Schools? They had ads in newspapers, crossword books, etc. asking people if they could draw turtles, celebrity profiles, animals, etc. They thought if you could draw those things, you could be taught art. Well, I can draw those things easily, but I am NOT an artist. I can copy just about anything, but that doesn’t make me an artist. I don’t understand shadows and light, but if you give me a typestyle or font to copy, I’m all about that. That is how I ‘transfer’ my designs on to wood. I put it on the computer screen then draw it on to my canvas, referring back to the design often. I either use a pencil or chalk and draw the outline, then fill it in with whatever paint I have on hand. The nice thing about chalk is that you can paint over it and then just wipe off the initial drawing when you’re finished.
Here is a sign I just made for my daughter for Valentine’s day. Every time I make anything, she wants it for herself. So, I made her a version of the Love sign above.
You can see the process here….
It’s like coloring with crayons. When I was little, I used to trace my coloring book pictures, then color them in. This isn’t that different. I used pencil to draw the design, then traced the pencil outline with a black sharpie and finally filled in with some black acrylic paint (that’s what I had on hand). You can see that everything isn’t even and it’s definitely not perfect. That’s okay, it’s handmade, it shouldn’t be perfect.
Sometimes I do freestyle the words on to the surface with paint, but that is rare. It sounds scary, but it really isn’t. It’s no different than drawing with a pencil, in fact it’s easier because you can go back over the area with paint and straighten the line out. If you do that with pencil, it becomes shading and it makes it harder to paint over.
I use different kinds of paintbrushes. It depends on how thick or thin I am going to make the letters. But really, if you are unsure about using a paintbrush, you can use a sharpie marker or even a paint marker. Those are perfectly fine because they are like crayons! Only one warning…if you use chalk to draw your design, markers (all kinds) get kind of gunked up because the chalk dries out the ink or paint.
Anyone can make a sign. Once you complete your design, on the computer, you can print it out or take it to an office store and they can print it out and you can transfer it on to a piece of wood, canvas or other surface. There are several different ways to transfer your design on to your canvas. Here is a link to The Graphics Fairy, This is a great site! She has 12 different ways to transfer designs to any DIY project.
I love how this sign came out. I love the design, the typestyles, the use of lowercase and uppercase letters and the flourishes. It isn’t perfect, but I am okay with that. Isn’t it amazing what you can do with salvaged fence pickets and a little bit of paint?
Do you think you can make your own sign now? I’d love to see some of your work!