DIY: What’s your Sign?

Hello All,

Ok… this project is slightly more involved, but I LOVE it because it is a method that you can use for anything (and not just Halloween)! In fact, I used it  to make these shields that hang outside my house. They are painted with the Scottish Seals for the three clans Green Lantern and I descend from!

Anywoo. Let’s get to it.

The first thing you need is wood for your sign. If you are comfortable using powertools, feel free to cut it into the shape you want. Since my hubby doesn’t trust me with a saw (and probably for good reason since I can barely operate a kitchen knife :P) I bought my wood pre-cut from a craft store. I left my wood raw because I want it to wear while it’s outside, but you could stain it if you want here.

The next step takes place on the computer. Figure out what you want your signs to say, or what design you want on them. I used Adobe Illustrator to create and manipulate type, but you could even use office just to type out fonts or use clipart. I chose a font with an old-world, steampunk-y kind of feel. Make sure that whatever you are using has thick clear lines that will be easier to follow during the transfer step. You might want to double check the measurements of your sign to make sure everything is sized appropriately. When you are satisfied, print it out. This becomes your stencil.

I like to cut down the excess paper from the stencil so I can place it better on the sign. Flip it over, and using a pencil, color over the back side of the words. DO NOT do this on top of the wood sign! You will end up with shadows of backwards letters on the sign… not the best effect. 🙂 You might have to do a couple of layers to get a good solid color. Place the stencil on the sign and tape it in place when you are satisfied with the placement.

Stencil in Place for Tracing!

Stencil in Place for Tracing!

Now you trace. In the case of my letters, which are thick, I did the outside of the letter, and the inside to create the internal spaces. When you press down on the top of the image with the point of your pencil, the graphite from the back with make a shadow print on the wood. Make sure you get all the lines!! There is nothing worse then picking up the paper and realizing you missed a section! Once you get through all of that, you can pull the paper stencil off and throw it. You will have a perfect guide on your wood to follow.

It will be light, but if you look closely, you can see my graphite guide!

It will be light, but if you look closely, you can see my graphite guide!

Now the fun part…. Painting! Depending on the size of your sign, the size of your brush could change. Since I had a lot of little details, I chose a small flat brush. Depending on how intricate you design is, it may take you a while to paint. I did three signs spread over a couple of days just because I didn’t want to rush it, and because I was working on other projects.


If you are making a normal sign, that’s it! Go you! For me, I wasn’t quite done. Obviously my plants are carnivorous… They kill things. SO… I needed a little blood. Using red paint, I applied it with a combination of two ways. The first was spatter painting. I used a paintbrush (but a toothbrush would work better) and ran my finger across it quickly across the bristles while pointing it down. Very easy. After I was satisfied with the amount of splatter, I got a bit more hands on. I actually painted parts of my hand to leave prints and drags across the signs. It really gave it that Halloween feel I was looking for. 🙂


Bloody Good!

The last thing is deciding how your sign will be displayed. The first was easy for me. I attached it to a yard stake which I got from the hardware store. The other sign, which I intend to hang, was a little more tricky. Luckily my next door neighbors are good sports, and he handled the hardware. Basically we used a long piece of chain (also from the hardware store) and screwed it into the back of the signs. Each sign (since it is two hanging together) has four points on the back where a screw is attached through a link in the chain. We left the top long so I could hang it from the ceiling of my porch. Here the finished products!

Hanging and Stake Garden Signs for my Evil Botanical Babies <3


Back to work I go!