Thursday, September 27, 2012

Right in Time for Basketball Season

Every so often the boy sends me some wall art he's found online, and it generally involves either Indiana University (his Alma mater), or the American flag. And I normally respond with something to the effect of, "Oh, I could make that." Of course, I never really get around to it. But this, my friends, is the story of a time that I finally did. Let's call it my own version of Young House Love's "Dude, Get On That Already" initiative.

This particular request involved making a pretty simple distressed wood sign that said "HOOSIERS" on it. Embarrassingly Fortunately, I already had everything I needed.

For the sign, I used scrap wood from the shelf for my dresser-turned-TV-stand. I sanded it with some 220 grit sandpaper, especially around the edges, and then sprayed a light layer of primer over it in my backyard. This step was probably unnecessary. Oh well.

Next, I painted the whole board red using a sample of red paint from Home Depot that I had from a Christmas project. I think I ended up painting about three coats, until I couldn't see through the red anymore. The paint was an eggshell finish (that's just what the samples come as), which isn't ideal for distressing. If I had started from scratch, I probably would've used chalk paint instead. I let the paint dry over night, and the next day got started on my lettering.

It would be awesome if I had a projector like Miss Mustard Seed does, but alas, I do not. I learned a while ago that painting over a stencil doesn't work nearly as well as just hand painting letters on, and since I was planning to distress this piece, I knew they didn't have to be perfect. I went online and downloaded a "Collegiate" free font and so that I could print out the letters and trace them onto the board.

Since I wasn't quite sure what size letters I needed, I used Photoshop Elements to create a mock up of the sign. I measured the sign and created a new file to the same size. Then, I typed "HOOSIERS" and made note of what size the font needed to be. I also downloaded an IU logo and added it at the beginning. I used my guides to determine how tall that needed to be too. Oh, and the font comes with solid letters, but I used the outline letters so that I wouldn't use up so much ink when I printed them separately on white sheets of paper.

Once I knew how big the letters needed to be, I created individual 8.5 x 11 files, typed two letters per file, and printed them out. I also printed out the IU logo. Then I cut out the letters, used my T-square (hello, studio materials) to make sure they were basically spaced evenly and straight on the board. Once I got everything placed properly, I traced the letters and logo onto the red board with a mechanical pencil.

To apply the letters, I used a small, flat brush to fill in the letters with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White. I think I did about three layers. One thing I learned was that going slowly didn't help give me straight lines. It almost gave me more time to make an error. Having a little speed ensured that I made one swift motion. Again, because I planned to distress the letters, I could de-stress about making perfect (har har).

After the paint dried, I took the sign outside and started to distress it with some sandpaper...but that just wasn't getting the job done, so I took my power sander to it.

After sanding, I wiped down the sign to remove as much dust as possible and applied a coat of Annie Sloan clear wax. I let the wax dry for a while and then took it over to the boy's house to surprise him.

He was pretty pumped. We hung the sign in his room over his TV with 3M command strips...and that's the only portion of the picture below that I will claim responsibility for.

So there we go, I finally finished the project that I told the boy I'd make, oh, maybe a year ago? At least I got it done before the basketball season started. I guess now I have to make the American flag sign too.

P.S. Check out the last IU item I made for the boy's birthday last year. 


  1. Love your Hoosiers sign! I made my son (current IU student) an IU sign using leftover tongue and groove pine boards. Your sign reminds me of it.

  2. Thank you! A sign on pine boards sounds awesome. Go Hoosiers!


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