Rustic home decor project

I love these rustic wooden quote signs that so many places are selling now.  Some of the quotes are silly, some are inspirational, romantic, and even down right sarcastic!  There’s been several I’ve seen and thought, “That’d be perfect for our house!”  However, every time I take a peek at the price tag I’m suddenly much less impressed.  And then in the back of my mind I always think, “I could just make that, right?”  Well, I decided to give it a shot!  And actually, I’m making it for my sister as her (very) belated birthday present!

First I needed to find a wooden sign to work with.  I contemplated using wood pallet slats or a sturdy canvas.  But the easiest thing to do was just go to Hobby Lobby and buy a wooden sign in the right size I wanted.  It didn’t matter what the sign said or had on it, because my plan was to just spray paint right over it.  And unfortunately I didn’t snap a pic of the HobLob sign I bought, but it was on of these “In this house…” signs.  And the one I got was red, tan and black.  So it was very similar to this one.

Then I went to the craft and paint section of Hobby Lobby and bought 2 inch and 3 inch stencils in Helvetica font, a sponge paintbrush, and black, tan, and white paints.  I wanted a true flat paint so that it looked more rustic when painted onto the wood, but the best I could find was satin finish.  I got home and laid out a drop cloth in the yard, and started spray painting the entire sign with the tan color.  Then when that dried, I sprayed over the entire sign with the black color.  That way when I sand down the edges, the tan color will hopefully be exposed from underneath the black.  The key is doing multiple thin layers.  So my first layer of black was a bit patchy, but after the 2nd coat is was nice and even.
While all that dried, I played around with the layout of the words I was going to paint onto the sign.  I found two quotes that I like a lot on Pinterest, one of which my sister Katie has pinned on one of her boards.  It says, “Home is wherever I am with you” and one I found says, “A house is not a home without a dog.”  They are both appropriate for her home, but I decided to go with the one she has pinned (since obviously she likes it!).  So I taped some pieces of paper together in the size of the wood sign so I could stencil out some options.  Here’s what I came up with… (sorry it’s hard to see, I tried to increase the contrast).

 I wasn’t a huge fan of the 1st option, but I still couldn’t fit all the words in the space right on the 2nd option.  So, I actually painted a 3rd option, which you will see shortly.

When I got ready to paint, I lined up my stencils, taped off the areas around the letters I didn’t want to get paint onto, and then painted my letter.  I used Americana acrylic paint in “White Wash.”

However, my first attempt was a bit sloppy.  So, I re-spray painted the top half, and tried again (with a bit more precision).  And even with a delicate hand, some of the letters still came out a little sloppy.  Stenciling is apparently not my best talent.
 But I kept going, and after a few hours (yeah, this wasn’t exactly the quickest project I’ve done), I had this….
And yes, I was snacking on some M&Ms towards the end!  At this point I was pleased, but it still needed some roughing up for character.  I decided to gently (at a distance) and sporadically spray both the tan and black paint across the whole thing so the white wasn’t so contrasted against the black.  Then I also sanded all the edges.  After all that, this was the result…

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