Painting a Fourth of July Statue of Liberty Sign

By now, my husband really should know better than to leave plywood laying around out in the open inside our garage where anybody who lives here can steal it. If he wants to keep the plywood for his own use he should hide it somewhere out of sight, amirite?

Anyhoo, in a related matter, here’s the latest in my ongoing series of purloined plywood art projects:

When I first saw the board, it wasn’t much to look at. In its previous life, it had obviously been used outdoors because it was weathered and worn and had dried chunks of glue on it.

Old plywood piece, 17 inches wide by 57 inches tall

I liked the size of it, though — 17 inches x 57 inches — and the fact that it was all beat up.

It gave me the idea to paint an image on it that was kind of old and weathered looking, like those faded billboards that you still see occasionally on barns and brick walls, advertising tobacco or 10-cent Pepsi Cola.

screenshot of statue of liberty drawing in Photoshop

With my plywood being tall and skinny, I thought a silhouette of the Statue of Liberty would fill the space and make a nice patriotic statement for the Fourth of July.

I played around with different ideas in Photoshop and ultimately decided to set the silhouette off center and have it bleed off the edge of the wood with the word “LIBERTY” (in Avenir Next Bold) next to it.

Printout of Statute of Liberty, tiled out on 14 sheets of paper

Then I printed the image out. Because it was so large, it tiled out onto 14 pages.

I laid the pieces out on my deck and jigsaw puzzled them together. And if you’re wondering why I have a comb, a mirror, two remote controls, a set of keys and a pack of cinnamon Trident laying on top of the paper, it’s because it was a little breezy at the time and I was trying to keep the pages from blowing away.

Back side of Statue of Liberty printout, showing pencil scribbled over outlines of silhouette, to be traced and transferred onto signboard

After taping the pieces together and removing the random weights, I moved inside, away from the wind, and scribbled onto the back side of the outlines with a pencil.

White plywood with letters traced in pencil

Then I flipped the paper over and traced the outlines to transfer the pencil lead onto the sign board.

White sign with Statue of Liberty silhouette partially painted on it

I filled in the outlines with homemade chalk paint. My secret recipe: a smidge of plaster of Paris, a little water, and a big glob of regular latex paint.

White sign with Statue of Liberty silhouette partially painted on it

The plaster of Paris makes the paint flat and chalky. You have to keep mixing it as you’re working with it to keep the paint smooth and prevent the plaster of Paris from settling at the bottom, but it’s a cheap and easy way to use what you’ve already got instead of going to the store and buying a quart of name brand chalk paint.

White sign with Statue of Liberty silhouette partially painted on it

Despite the sign’s overall bigness, it didn’t take long to paint, because there wasn’t any putzy detail work involved.

In my book, you can never go wrong with a project that offers maximum impact with minimum putziness.

Statue of Liberty silhouette painted on a signboard

Ta da. All painted.

Sander roughing up Statue of Liberty silhouette to age it

To make the sign look old and weathered, I scuffed up the paint with my sander and then dug out some furniture wax I had on hand.

I coated the entire sign with clear wax first. Then I put some dark wax on the edges and other spots I wanted to look aged. I got a little heavy handed with the dark wax on some parts, but the beauty of working with wax is, if you’ve got a coat of clear wax on first, you can “erase” dark wax by going over those spots with more clear wax.

Here’s the sign on my porch.

I’ll leave it setting out for the summer, and then in the fall, my plan is to paint something else on the flip side that I can display for the rest of the year. Maybe a welcome sign? Or a family name sign? I’m still waiting for inspiration to strike.

Statue of Liberty silhouette painted on a signboard

Anybody else have ideas for a fun, all-season sign on a tall, skinny board? Let me know in the comments below.

2 Replies to “Painting a Fourth of July Statue of Liberty Sign”

  1. Wow, when u surface, u do it strong!
    Love this!
    Beautiful & on my list of ideas to steal;
    Keep em coming:

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