Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Not-so-antique Antiques sign

What do you do with an old rectangle of wood with decorative edges, painted in colors that no longer match your décor? You spray paint it of course! (There aren’t pictures of the “before” or the step by step...I got a little excited to start painting.)

I had purchased said piece of wood from Michaels a year or two ago and painted it with my monogram to match the colors of my dorm room decorations. But, since moving off campus and getting to create my ‘big girl’ room for the first time, it was no longer something I was proud to display as-is.  
No worries! I got out the trusty spray paint and spray primer and gave it a good coat or three after it received a good sanding. (Yes, THREE coats. The bright turquoise and brown craft paint used the first time around was not so willing to be replaced.) After I primed and painted the wood, it took a few tries to come up with the best way to stencil the letters onto the wood.

I downloaded the “antique” looking font (called Old Newspaper Types) from the internet for free, and researched how to add this font to my list of fonts available in Word. Easy stuff. Then, I printed the letters in the layout I wanted (so the word read up and down on one page only). Using an Exacto knife, I painstakingly cut each letter out to create my own stencil. However, the normal computer paper was too thin, and the letters were too small, so my cuts were jagged and messy. The paper ended up getting torn in too many places, and I knew that trying to paint on this stencil was not going to go well. So scrap that idea.

Try number 2: I printed each letter at the actual size I wanted, which I believe ended up being size 105. After I printed the letters, I cut the letters into small squares, with one letter per square. I placed them onto the wood so they were evenly spaced from top to bottom. (Type-A personality that I am, I even measured to be sure I had the letters centered from left to right!)

This is where I totally invented my own strategy. Leaving the paper letters in the appropriate layout on the wood, I used a ballpoint pen to trace each letter’s outline. You really have to apply some pressure here so that you are making an imprint in the wood. I lifted the paper letters off of the wood as I completed them, because I have no patience to wait for the end product.

Using brown craft paint and one of Allison’s thin, stiff paintbrushes, I carefully painted each letter, following the outline I created for myself. At first I was really worried about not going out of the lines, but after realizing that this was nearly impossible it occurred to me that an antiques sign would not have such harsh edges anyway. It ended up being really easy to do, and took me about 10 minutes to fill them in.

But when it was done, the clean ivory color of the background just didn’t seem right for a sign that was supposedly “antique”. I had some more brown left on my paper plate, and I added another blob of a slightly lighter brown into the mix as well. Then, with a paper towel, I dipped into the paint and wiped it around the letters, in the direction of the wood grain. *Make sure your letters are completely dry, so you don’t accidentally smear the word.* I let the paint set for 15 or 20 seconds, and then wiped it off again with another, clean paper towel. Most of the paint remained, making it look like an old, weathered piece of wood.

After all of the trial and error, I emerged victorious with a beautiful “Antiques” sign of my own! I placed it on a floating shelf in my bedroom hallway, along with some flameless candles, and two of my thrift store finds.

The best part of this project was that it was pretty much free; I had everything I needed for this project already, or was able to download it from the internet for free!

So before you drag all that junk to the curb, take a second look and see what might be worth giving a second chance. You may just fall in love all over again!

Goodluck, and Happy Thrifting!
Chelsea & Allison


  1. soooooooooooooooooo cute! <333333

  2. I had no idea that was from the old dorm. How crafty!

  3. I like how the wood turned out weathered. Did you look up how to do it or did putting the paint on and wiping it off just come naturally? You guys are so creative!

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  5. Painting and wiping off again was a spur of the moment idea, but since that's how you apply stain, I figured I could mimick the look with brown craft paint on top of the ivory spray paint.

  6. I always do graphite transfer for text when I am too lazy to cut out stencils. You just have to have a steady hand to paint inside the lines! Here's what I do:

    1. Type up your letters in desired font in Power Point using Word Art tool, and then FLIP the word art horizontally so that it is BACKWARDS
    2. Print out. Either outline the letters or cover the black of the letters completely with graphite/pencil/charcoal.
    3. Flip upside down, and place letters where you want them. Rub the back of the paper with a metal spoon to transfer the graphite to the wood.
    4. PAINT!

  7. So cute and pretty:))
    I am your newest follower, come to visit my blog.
    Greetings from Europe, Biljana

  8. Great sign. It is so cute. Please stop over to my blog on Sunday for my Show Off Sunday Party. I would love for you to share this project with my followers.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my Show Off Sunday Party. I look forward to seeing you next Sunday!!