Sometimes you just need a custom made sign. My darling Happy Heart wood wall art started out as an old cabinet door, transformed into a beautiful focal point on my wall. I have a lot of ideas for DIY wooden signs but I had to come up with a way to easily make them. I tossed around the idea of buying a vinyl cutter to make custom stencils but the start-up cost for the plotting machine and the vinyl adhesive material is pretty high. ...Someday, maybe. Anyway, I did find a pretty easy solution to make DIY die-cut stencils for painted wood signs using printer paper, spray adhesive, and contact paper. I'm sure there are lots of ways to accomplish making homemade stencils for painting; this is just the route I went.
To make homemade wood art stencils, I printed out some words using creative fonts that I liked. I arranged them using a photo editing program before printing to make sure they were the right size and the layout fit together well. I chose the phrase "Have a Happy Heart" for my DIY wood sign. I feel like I'm telling my kids to have a happy heart a lot, and it's a good reminder for me too! Once printed, I used spray adhesive to attach contact paper or shelf paper to the back of my pieces of printer paper, to make my DIY painting stencils sticky. Then I cut out the lettering.
Make homemade paper stencils sticky by attaching contact paper or shelf paper to the backside using spray adhesive.
Cutting out my stencil letters was the trickiest part. In hindsight, it probably would have been easier to trace around each letter with a pencil, flip the paper pencil-line down against the wood, and rub the pencil off onto the wood to make letter outlines, which you can then fill in with paint. This alternate technique for plotting your letters on a DIY wood sign sounds simpler but I haven't tried it. You also have to account for printing your words backwards to get the appropriate left-to-right word arrangement.
Once my paint stencil letters were cut out, I stuck the homemade stencils onto the sign. I used a small ruler to make sure everything was straight and aligned, applying pressure to make sure all the edges and corners were adequately attached to my wood sign.
Now it's time to paint! I painted each letter using the stencil as a guide. I'd recommend brushing the paint on lightly over the letter edges and corners so excess paint doesn't leak under the stencil and make your words look blemished. For the word Happy, I used an orange and pink gradient technique to add depth, since it's the focal point of my homemade wood sign.
Allow your homemade stencil to fully dry overnight and carefully peel it off. If some of the letters aren't perfect, you can touch it up a bit. If you're distressing your DIY wood sign with a sanding block like I did, a few blemishes won't show much.
Next I took a sheet of sand paper and manually distressed the front of my sign. This allowed me to control how much to distress the paint. Sanding also removed any paint edges from my letters and smoothed out the entire look of my homemade wood Happy Heart sign.
Finally, I decided to paint a heart around my letters. I could have done this first, before painting the letters, but my heart border ended up being a last minute embellishment. I just painted around the lettters using a watered-down light blue paint, allowing some of my wood distressing to show through.
Overall I am very happy with my homemade wood Have a Happy Heart sign, and I know I'll enjoy having this on my wall for many years to come! I used dusty aqua paint, a classic color in my home decor pallet. The pink and orange painted letters really pop out and add a cheerful element to the encouraging reminder. Happy hearts are important for happy families, content kids, and nurturing mommies too!