Crafting | Painting a Christmas sign

To celebrate the holidays — and the end of my first semester in my second go-round with college — I made myself a little Christmas present.

making a wooden Christmas sign
Isn’t it purdy? I’ve been crushing on the Pottery Barn JOY sign the whole Christmas season, but as a poor college student, I didn’t have 59 discretionary dollars to spend on a holiday decoration and I had consigned myself to the fact that I would have to go without it.

Noel sign
Then one day last week I noticed a crusty piece of plywood — full of paint smears and stains and holes that had been drilled around the edges — leaning up against the side of our garage. I assume my husband must have put it there, but I decided it was a sign. Or at least it could be. A rustic, reclaimed, one-of-a-kind Pottery-Barn-inspired Christmas sign, that is.

Noel sign
With the plywood in hand, I searched my paint stash for a beautiful Christmas red. All I could find was 1 ounce (half a bottle) of tomatoey red acrylic craft paint. Not exactly what I was looking for, but I made it work by adding a couple of dribbles of black to darken it up and then mixing it with a bit of water and plaster of paris to stretch the paint and make sure it had a nice, flat, chalky finish.

stenciling a sign
Once I had the paint conundrum solved and the board bedecked in red, I sat down at my computer and played around with a few different words and fonts. Eventually, I settled on my sign saying “noel” in Rockingham medium, and I printed out the letters.

Noel sign

Then I cut away the black ink to create stencils.

Noel sign

I scooched the letters around on the board until I had them where I wanted them and stuck them down with masking tape.

Noel Christmas sign

I filled in the stencils with some leftover white chalk paint.

Noel sign

When I had the stencils all filled in …

Noel sign

… I peeled away the paper to reveal the white letters.

building a frame
Then I rounded up a few pieces of grungy lath. The lath pieces are not even a year old, but my husband had used them to stake out a path he built in our backyard last summer, and they turned that lovely weathered gray color pretty quickly after they were exposed to the elements.

Making a Noel sign

I trimmed two long pieces of the lath to fit horizontally along the top and bottom of the sign first, then drilled pilot holes and nailed the pieces into the plywood.

DIY Christmas sign

For the shorter ends of the sign, I butted the lath pieces up along the sides, marked their length with a pencil and trimmed them to fit, then drilled pilot holes and nailed them into place just like I did with the longer pieces.

Noel sign

Here’s a closeup of one of the butted corners.

wooden noel sign

After I had the frame built, I gave the sign a second coat of paint and then brushed on a couple of coats of Rust-Oleum Chalked protective topcoat.

Noel sign
I have the sign standing sideways on my back porch for now, but I can always hang it horizontally, if the mood strikes.

red Noel sign

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