DIY Décor part 1: Channel Marquee Sign
Since we’re both control freaks it goes without saying that we’d do things DIY-style for as many elements as we could handle. I enjoy putting my liberal arts degree to good use, so we’re going to be creating a lot of the wedding dér ourselves. We’ve been looking at a lot of wedding blogs and design blogs to get a feel for what we don’t want (which includes anything related to mustaches or the other incredibly popular/trendy wedding tropes these days). We’re going to make our own brand of twee.
Our venue, Urban Light Studios, has a cool brick wall where you can hang photos, or floral arrangements, or whatever. I’ve always loved the look of old type and vintage signs, and I stumbled across these channel marquee letters from Urban Outfitters which I dug the look of, but they’re $178.00? EACH? Pfft, I could make one myself at home for way cheaper. And so can you! These are awesome pieces that would look great in anyone’s home/apartment/cardboard box/secret underground lair.
Jigsaw or scroll saw
Drill with 3/4″ wood boring bit
Leather or cotton gloves
1/2″ thick plywood – must be thick enough to easily staple along the sides
10ft aluminum flashing
LED Christmas Lights – I like these globe lights I found at Target
D loop picture hanging hardware
Rubber table leg bumpers
Hammered metal spraypaint
Red matte spraypaint
Metallic gold spraypaint
First, draw out your pattern on the plywood. I did this by hand, but now I have a cheap old-school overhead projector I found at an electronics recycling store here in Seattle for around $30, so if you have the opportunity to use a projector I highly recommend it. I chose the heart emoticon, as it’s something that Jinny and I have always texted/typed to each other. Then cut the shape out of the plywood using the jigsaw or scrollsaw and sand or use a rasp on any non-uniform areas. You don’t have to have the edges perfect as they will be covered by flashing later, but it’s nice to have a smooth surface to staple to.
Now, take the plastic globes off of the LED lights to mock up your placement. Generally I like to space the lights about one globe width apart from each other, but it’s really up to you. Vintage signs sometimes had scattered or random lighting patterns, since they’d usually be covered by plexiglas or some other opaque plastic as a diffuser.
After you plot out where your lights are going to go, drill your holes. The lights I recommend actually fit snug into a 3/4″ hole once you screw the globes back on.
Now you can get started with the flashing. Be sure to wear your gloves! Flashing is sharp. Learn from my mistakes, kids. The 10′ spools I get at Home Depot are a bit too wide – usually 10″, which I like to cut down the middle with tin snips to make two 10′ pieces 5″ wide. It’s easiest to staple the flashing on in short strips, and then crimp them together later. Cut a strip the length of a curve or straightaway, and staple the flashing to the side of the plywood. Continue stapling along the side at 1″ or 2″ intervals, with the flashing flush up against the bottom of the plywood. This creates the channel in the sign. Once the flashing is on, cut notches all around the top edge along the curve. This will allow you to crimp the sign so you don’t have any sharp edges, and it also enhances any curves you may have in the type. I use some flat pliers for this to crimp the edges tight.
Now, it’s time for paint. I like a hammered metal primer, with a matte finish on top. This makes the plywood and the aluminum flashing look and feel uniform. For my sign, I also did spot painting with a textured spraypaint that looked like rust, which enhances the vintage feel. At this time you may as well also use the gold spraypaint on the plastic globes you removed from the lights. I just do one small spray on each to make them look like old, oxidized light bulbs.
Now you can attach the hanging hardware to the back (if you want to hang it) and I like to use rubber table leg bumpers, turned upside down and screwed to the piece, so it doesn’t damage any wall you put it against.
Now you’re ready to string your lights through the holes, screw back on the globes and light it up! I’m pretty proud of the sign I made, not only is it going to look fabulous on the brick wall in our venue, but it’s a cool piece of décor for our home. If you end up making one, I’d love to see it!