I painted a mural on my barn last weekend, without leaving my house. And if you’re wondering how I managed to do that, maybe I should explain my barn is only 15 inches tall.
I was trying to make it look bigger in the photo above by setting it on the base of what had once been my son’s Civil War battlefield diorama.
Ha. After a decade or so in storage, I finally found a use for it again. 😂
Anyhoo, the story of the barn, like most of my stories, starts in a thrift store. That’s where I found it in about 2015. I didn’t strictly need a miniature barn back then, but I thought it would look cute setting out on my back porch surrounded by flowers or up on top of a cabinet.
Here’s what the barn looked like when I brought it home:
Re-painting the barn
The tomato red exterior and aqua roof weren’t my style, so I eventually repainted the barn, using a darker red and a celery green.
I really wasn’t planning to do anything else to the barn at that point. Or at any point. But then last month, inspiration struck.
Inspiration from a real barn
One of my friends and former co-workers at The Beaver Dam Daily Citizen had written a story about a (real) barn with a vintage advertising mural on it. The mural had apparently been on the barn since at least the 1950s, but it had been covered up by siding for a long time. When the siding was torn down recently, the mural was revealed.
I love vintage advertising murals. This mural in particular struck my fancy because it was in such good shape and it was on a barn that I drive past all the time. Plus, it advertised a local business that is still operating today.
The newspaper story said the owners planned to re-side the barn, so the mural was going to be covered up again. Personally, I was glad that it was going to be protected from the elements and preserved, but I was also bummed that it was going to be hidden from view once more.
Then it occurred to me that I could paint a miniature advertising mural onto my own little barn and see it everyday.
I messaged my friend who wrote the story, telling her what I wanted to do and asking if she had taken any photos of the mural from straight on. A minute later, she sent me this picture:
The angle was much better on this shot (for my purposes) but the mural was still a little distorted. To straighten it out, I opened the photo in Photoshop, created a new layer over top of the background, and typed the letters in a similar font.
I couldn’t find a font that matched the “McKinstry-Yauman Co.” letters, so I traced them with the pen tool. Then I moved the anchor points around, stretching and squeezing each letter until they were all about the same size.
Once I had the letters all copied, I turned off the background layer …
… sized the page to fit my barn, and printed it.
Prepping and painting
To remove the barn’s windows, I wedged a screwdriver underneath each piece of the frame and pried.
Next, I sanded the part of the barn where the mural was going to go.
Then I base coated that section of the barn in grey chalk paint.
After the paint dried, I placed a piece of carbon paper behind my printout and traced over the letters.
When I removed the carbon paper, I saw the letters had transferred.
To fill in the outlines, I was tempted to run over to Walmart to buy a paint marker, but (sigh) I didn’t think that counted as an “essential trip,” so I made do with the craft paint and brushes I had on hand.
I let the paint dry overnight. The next morning, I gave my miniature advertising mural a coat of clear wax to protect it. I also added a little dark wax around the edges and in the cracks, to make it look old and weathered.
Here’s the barn on my back porch:
I generally face the open side toward the wall and use it for storage.
Isn’t it cute?? I love it with the new miniature advertising mural. 😊
If you haven’t already, check out the Daily Citizen story about the full-sized barn mural. It’s a fun read.
If you’re fascinated by old signs like I am, follow my Vintage Advertising Murals Pinterest board.
And if you want to read more about my extremely low-tech sign-making process, check out this post about a home address sign I made.
That’s all for now, folks. I hope you’re all staying home and staying safe!