DIY Customized Family Name Sign

Who needs Etsy when you can do it yourself!

You can paint this sign, yes YOU 🙂

I’m gonna break down step by step exactly how I created this wedding gift sign! And let’s not limit this idea to wedding gifts alone, this sign could be a new homeowner gift, a gift for your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, or maybe even a gift to yourself to spice up your home decor!!

I have always preferred the idea of giving a personalized gift rather than a store bought one, which I know can be a scary thought: maybe you are worried “it won’t be good enough” or “it will look too homemade.” Let’s break it down, the whole point of homemade gifts is the exact fact that they certainly DO NOT have to be perfect, if anything a personalized gift should have your own little flair put into it; that’s what makes it so special and unique! Gifting a personalized present you have put your heart into truly means so much more than gifting something you purchased with a click of a finger online.

I’ll admit, Etsy has cracked the code here and really has quite a selection of personalized/customizable gifts, but even those are somewhat overdone in my opinion, and are often expensive just because of the fact that a custom name gets printed on. So what if you could instead Do It Yourself!? More personalized and cheaper overall: win win if you ask me 🙂

A sign is a versatile gift because anyone will be able to find a spot for it inside or outside their home! A few things to consider before you decide how to customize the sign: really sit down and pick a theme or make a list of a few ideas that are special/ individual for the recipient. In this case a few concepts special to “The Clarks” happened to be monkeys as well as a nod to “its 5 oclock somewhere,” so naturally I was pumped for this one. The more personalized ➡ the more sentimental value ➡ the more evident that a lot of thought that was put into it = the more they will freakin LOVE this gift!!

Basic Supplies you will Need:

  • Plain wooden sign– I used a piece of wood from my dad’s garage, but if you search “plain wooden sign on Amazon” you will find HUNDREDS of options. Choose one that already has a rope or string attached for easy hanging!!
  • Acrylic Paints– If you plan on doing other projects I recommend investing in a basic set of acrylic paints, I use them almost everyday (I’m a bit obsessed). Don’t be afraid to blend whatever paints you have to make new colors too! I get most of mine at Michael’s (and when in doubt Amazon). There are so many brands out there- I find “Crafts Smart” and “Deco Art” to be some of my favorites. An array of Michaels acrylic paints linked here.
  • Acrylic Paint brushes– Again, Michaels or Amazon. A selection of small to medium brushes are essential for different designs, linked here. The three I used for this project are a 1. an acrylic wash brush, 2. an acrylic flat brush, and 3. an acrylic round brush.
  • Paper Plate– Or anything you can blot paint on..
  • Spray-on Lacquer– Choose a coating that is durable, sprays on clear, and is good for outdoor/indoor finish. The one I bought from Lowes is linked here.

Instructions:

  • Start by painting your wooden sign white: no matter what colors you plan on adding on after I always start with a white basecoat, as it is the best color to layer paints onto and will reduce the number of top coats you have to apply later on.

  • Draw a rough sketch of the landscape only; one wavy line near the bottom about one quarter of the way up to divide the sand from the water and one more about two thirds of the way up to divide the water from the sunset.
  • Paint the yellow sand first.

For the sand and water you will be using a medium size acrylic flat brush. A flat brush closely resembles a wash brush, except not quite as thick. They are great for wide strokes where you want a good amount of paint coverage while giving you a little more control than a larger wash brush for details. Flat brushes can also be used for painting thick lines.

  • I used Craft Smart bright yellow and applied with my acrylic flat brush. One coat will do.

  • Next up, layer on the water: I mixed together a light blue and teal mint color for the desired pigment. See the following video for basic application.

  • Next up, paint the sunset: I used a technique I actually learned from a VHS by Donna Dewberry I watched when I was in freakin middle school (I think watching her painting DIY videos was the closest thing I’ve ever had to an art lesson🤣). This technique involves a simple one-stroke method for blending pigments. Sometimes I’ll go overboard on my sunsets and do a whole rainbow fade-out, but for this project I instead kept it relatively simple and I love how it came out!

For the sunset you will be using an acrylic wash brush. This is typically the largest brush you will use, often appearing gigantic compared to the rest in your pack. The are great for covering large parts of your canvas in a timely manner. Pro tip: if you dip the brush into water first then blot the paint will go much further.

The following video outlines this process:

  • The video shows a basic method for blending colors with an acrylic wash brush: half the brush in one color and half in the other, blotted off, then brushed along the width of your canvas!

  • The three colors I used for the sunset: Tempera neon pink, Americana neon orange, and Americana vivid violet.
  • You can keep it simple and start with three colors or add in more as you see fit!

  • Next up add the palm trees: I dew a simple stencil and cut it out to use on each side for perfect symmetry.

For the fine details you will be using a small acrylic round brush. These brushes give you maximum control for fine details. The handles are very narrow and should mimic holding a small pen. Pro tip: wetting this brush is very important for pulling sleek fine lines.

  • Trace and fill in palm tree with your acrylic round brush.
  • Pro tip: don’t forget to wet your brush before dipping in the paint for maximum control over fine details.

  • Flip to the other side and repeat.

🌴 I love how palm trees frame your canvas in such an aesthetically pleasing way 🌴

  • Next up, add the last name and final accents: first sketch out lightly with a pencil. If you make a mistake, not to worry, you can always erase and it won’t mark the dried acrylic paints underneath!!
  • Pro tip: Sometimes I use free font generators online for inspiration of what I want the text to look like. For this particular project, I googled “tropical font generator” and it brought me to this site. This helped me visualize how I wanted to draw the fonts I used for the last name, “its 5 o’clock somewhere,” and “Est 2020” writing.
  • If free handing scares you, USE a pre-made letter STENCIL 😄

  • Paint the last name with your acrylic flat brush and the smaller words with your small acrylic round brush.

  • Fill in the last name with white paint: use your acrylic round brush from before.
  • Pro tip: It may seem backwards to do it in this order but I prefer to paint the black outline first and fill in with white second, that way the white has a smoother application and less coats are needed for full coverage. Usually two coats of white will do.

I only filled in the last name so that it pops over the words above and below!

  • Next up, the final accents: again I googled an image of a cartoon monkey for a rough idea on where to start. I then lightly drew on the canvas, and filled in with brown and beige paints.
  • This is what it looks like after the first coat.

  • Add the second layer of paint, final accents, and black outline: use small acrylic round brush.
  • Again, a stencil could be an option here! ☺️ Remember, find something that is particularly special for whoever you are painting this for, in this case it was a monkey!! 🐵

  • I added a margarita glass at the last minute to tie it all together: any excuse to incorporate margaritas into your art right!? 🍹 It totally adds the extra ~sugar and spice~!

  • Final step: spray the entire surface with your laquer mentioned in the supply list above.
  • Apply at least two coats an hour apart!

And there you have it!!

Till next time fellow tropics 🙂

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