By Donna Williams
Posted on Friday, December 29th, 2023
Nothing quite spells “old tyme” for a sign better than the old, beat-up, chippy antique variety. And while authentic antique signs can still be had, they’re getting scarce. And finding the one with the right subject and the right size can be tough.
Fortunately they can be replicated with this quick little technique. With a little creativity where text and color come into play, you’ll have yourself that vintage sign in no time!
Gather your materials and supplies: Old board, paint brush, palm sander, acrylic craft paint, mask
Brush a coat of fairly vibrant color onto an old board. Be sure to leave lots of wood showing through. For this, the rougher the paint job the better. Allow to slightly dry, but not fully cure.
Apply a second coat with another color of choice in the same streaky manner. Allow to dry to the touch, but not fully cure.
Cut a mask in an appropriate letter style. You can cut this with the help of a computer or hand cut it. Reverse weed it, so you create a stencil. Premask your stencil. [Donna offers this and many other precut, ready-to-use stencils. You can find them here. –Editors]
Position the lettering and use tape as a hinge on one side. Flip it back, remove the liner and apply.
Remove the premask. This is where the real fun begins. You may pull a bit of paint off with the premask. In this case, this is a good thing!
Apply your text color over the stencil, roughly following the letter shape, as if it had been hand brushed. Again, neatness is best left behind this round.
Remove the stencil before the text paint is dry. Because the paint layers were not fully cured, removing the decal WILL remove lots of paint. You’ll see all sorts of layers and tones exposed at this point.
To even out the distressed background, apply scraps of vinyl where needed, then remove. Repeat until you’ve achieved an even distressed effect. The result will be a very believable distressed finish. Once the sign is fully cured, a light sanding with the palm sander is an option, however, the finish will remain haze free if you opt out of the sanding step.
Dress it up! Find some old hinges, bolts or any other “jewelry” you desire. I added plant hangers on this one. This creates much more interest than a simple board left on its own accord.
Put your sign to work on the shop wall or, in this case, in your kitchen. Enjoy it, but be forewarned—if you use “Grocery” as your chosen text, you will be reminded you need to shop. Often. And that can be a very good thing.
Donna Williams’s shop, Graphic Impact, and her home décor studio/website/blog, Funky Junk Interiors, are in Chilliwack, B.C., Canada. You’ll find her on Facebook at Funky Junk Interiors and on Instagram as @funkyjunkinteriors.
Donna offers hundreds of precut, ready-to-use stencils for decor signage and you can find them here.