I don’t know about you, but I am ready for winter to be over. We have had snow on the ground now since the beginning of November and I am completely fed up with living the majority of my life indoors. I need to be outside. I need sunshine. I need birdsong. I need the smell of earth in my nostrils and bare earth beneath my feet. I NEED SPRING! Unfortunately . . . it is only the beginning of February. Spring is still several weeks (hopefully not too many more!) away.
Since I can’t be outside playing in the dirt quite yet, I have focused on bringing a feeling of Spring into my shop. It started with painting some bunnies, a duck, and a goose, and moved on to some Spring inspired end tables and a neutral display in my front window complete with some faux white tulips and baby’s breath that I found on Amazon.
This past week, since I was in need of a project to complete for my Tuesday YouTube video, I decided to make some Spring signs using salvaged wood from my pile, some old signs that I had thrifted, and the ends of a magazine rack that I had sitting in my “to do” pile.
I enjoy making signs. But it really is a pretty time-consuming process. I spent the first day (well, the bulk of it anyway), just creating the templates for the stencils I would be printing with my Cricut. Part of the issue I suppose is that I tend to get a little lost in the process and can get sidetracked looking for artwork or fonts to use . . . . I love fonts and can waste inordinate amounts of time just trying to pick one.
Once I had the designs all formatted in Design Space (Cricut’s design platform), it was time to start prepping all of my pieces for paint and eventually their stencils. I had picked out eight different pieces – the two ends of the magazine rack, two pieces salvaged from the sides of an old dresser drawer, two wooden and one metal sign that I had thrifted, and a leftover chunk of board from the shelves we put up a while back.
The first thing I needed to do was fill the holes in the magazine rack from the screws that had kept it all together. Now, I only filled the four holes along the sides of each end piece. I left the hole in the top open so that it can be used to hang it on the wall once it is finished. To fill the holes I used Durham’s water putty, which tends to be my go-to for this process. It’s pretty simple to use – you just put some of the powder in a small dish and then add tiny amounts of water until you get the consistency you want. For this project I mixed it pretty thick, and after covering the holes on the back side with some masking tape, I used my fingers followed by a putty knife to push the putty into the holes. I left a little mound of putty on the front side over each hole because I have found that it tends to shrink just a little, and I wanted a smooth surface when I was done sanding.
Next, I sanded the two drawer sides, and the wood and metal signs. The signs needed to be sanded to ensure that the old designs didn’t leave a shadow beneath the new paint, and the old drawer sides were just a bit rough (and dirty). Then, when the putty was dry, I sanded the front and back of the two magazine rack ends and gave everything a good wipe down with a damp shop towel.
Then it was on to paint. I picked out my colors – White Swan, Little Black Dress, Faded Burlap and Farm Fresh – and since I had eight pieces, I painted two in each of the colors, giving each of the pieces two coats on the front side, the two magazine rack ends and one of the wood signs received one coat of paint to their respective back sides. (The other pieces just got cleaned up really well on the back side once they were dry). Then I distressed each piece and sealed them all with one coat of Big Top.
The next step of this process was “printing” the stencils and getting them transferred to their designated painted piece. Once I had measured out the piece of vinyl I needed, cut it out and adhered it to my cutting mat, I “printed” it using my Cricut. Then I weeded, taped, peeled, placed, peeled, smoothed, stenciled, and weeded again each individual sign, fixing any issues that popped up as I went. If you have never stenciled a sign before, it’s not a difficult process. There are just many steps and a few of them (particularly the weeding part) can be a little monotonous. If you’re in need of detailed instructions, there are many YouTube videos available to help. That is how I learned to use my Cricut!
Unfortunately this process never seems to go perfectly for me, and these projects were no exception. The first of the stencils was “WELCOME” (without the “O” because I am going to use a small wreath instead of the letter), and the sign was relatively long, which meant the design was going to go right to the edge of my mat when it was cut. And it did. And I should have cut the vinyl just a TAD longer. Thankfully, although it was close, there was enough of the “W” that I just needed to put a piece of masking tape over the very end of it to make it usable. Whew! Then, the “v” in one of the signs didn’t get cut properly because an air bubble popped up in the vinyl as it was being cut. To fix it I cut out a small square of vinyl, copied and pasted the “v” to new canvas, “printed” it, and once I had stenciled the design (with the messed up “v” covered by some masking tape) and weeded it, I added the new “v”, stenciled it, weeded it, and TADA! All fixed!
Once the signs were all done it was time to seal them. This step was required because I used my DIY paint for the stencils, and it can be reactivated with water. For the last coat of sealant I took each one outside and used Rustoleum clear matte spray over the entire piece. I tend to use spray sealer for this step because in the past when using a brush on sealant or a wax, it reactivated the stencil paint and ended up smearing it. Spraying ensures that smearing and smudging aren’t a worry.
The only thing left to do at that point was add some hangers to the back of one of the signs, add the wreath as the “O” in WELCOME (I used some ivory colored berry garland that I had laying around and simply rolled it into the appropriate size and used hot glue to attach it), embellish the handles of the magazine rack signs with some jute and lace.
And after all of that, I have eight hand stenciled spring signs ready to go out on the floor! It was quite the process, but I am really happy with how they all look, and I am already looking forward to making some more. Now if only they could magically make it Spring . . . .