Today, I'm sharing a simple tutorial for how to make a weathered JOY sign. I almost didn't post this, y'all. But after sharing a photo on social media earlier this week where this sign was captured, a few of you asked me where to buy it. It was all kinds of free (hoarding paint works to my advantage sometimes). Check out the tutorial below.
J-O-Y, J-O-Y, this is what it means...Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between (hey!)...anyone else singing that old Sunday school song right about now? No? Just me? Ah well, if you know it, it's now in your head (you're welcome). I keep seeing everyone's cute JOY porch signs all over the interwebs and thought it was about time to create one for my house. I already have my big NOEL sign on my porch (or sitting next to my front door, inside the house, patiently waiting for me to move it for the last week...ahem), so I wanted to create a JOY sign for my fireplace hearth. I kind of did a bit of a Christmas decor tweak (okay, overhaul) this year...after thirteen years of marriage, a lot of our stuff was falling apart (we got married right before the holidays...so we bought a little bit of super cheap decor that year for our first little Christmas. It's served us well, but...the time had come). When I set out for a new holiday look, I wanted to keep my budget in check(ish), so I actually made a boatload of stuff myself. It's my own form of procrastinating on my book manuscript that's due next month (#ahhhfreakout). Check out how I made this baby for zilch below. Nada. Zip. Zing.
I took photos of this in the early morning hours...this was when I decided to use one of my food photography lights on it (it's not a food specific-light...that's just the way I know how to use it...still working on it with decor stuff). The artificial lighting does help show how rugged and dirty I made it look.
This tutorial can be used for any word/phrase...and could have also been titled "how to create perfect lettering on the bumpiest board you can possibly find". But, after chatting with some friends on Instagram about this technique, I wanted to share it here...apparently I'm not the only one who struggles in the "perfect lettering" department.
So, again...really bumpy board. Normally I only do lettering on new boards or ones in way better shape. But, I really liked this board. I found it discarded in a construction trash pile on the side of the road (good times). I actually pulled a BUNCH of boards out of that pile that are stacked in my garage just waiting for a miracle. That little construction pile escapade cost me a tetanus shot, so free is a relative term here, I suppose. (Mental note: buy new work gloves).
BUT, here's how this whole thing went down. I painted the board with red chalk paint. I do tend to prefer Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint, but I know it's pricey and hard to find (if you do find it, it does go a long way and is worth it). My other go-to brand is the Deco Art that you can find here (it's also a lot more affordable).
I applied vinyl lettering that I cut with my Silhouette. You do not need a Silhouette or Cricut for this. They sell vinyl lettering on its own in craft stores or here on Amazon.
As you can see in the above photo, bumpy boards don't really provide the best surface for vinyl lettering (check out that Y, it's about to fall off the ding dang board, y'all). SOOOO, I "sealed" the vinyl with another coat of my red chalk paint. I didn't go all over the board...just over the edges of the lettering with a small brush. I brushed against the edges of the letters to "flood" the edges with paint in hopes of sealing them. Nobody is more surprised than I am that this actually worked as well as it did. But it so worked.
After the lettering was sealed and dry, I turned to my two favorite items to age painted pieces with (these are fool-proof, y'all). I used a wax puck and hemp oil all over the edges of the board to help prevent the next layer of paint (the creamy white top coat) from sticking in certain spots...making it super easy to weather.
You can grab a wax puck here and the hemp oil here. They both lasts for dozens of jobs (I've never actually used up an entire wax puck...they're that awesome). So, I guess *technically* this sign wasn't free-free...but I already owned all of the supplies, so you know what I mean.
The wax puck is just rubbed along the edges of the piece. I use a paper towel and dab the hemp oil all over the edges, too.
Then, I go over the whole thing with my top coat. I used Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Ironstone (you can find that here). And yes, I mix milk paint in a sports shaker bottle...it works amazingly well for me. (Let's face it, that bottle wasn't getting used for anything else around here.)
As you can see, I didn't do a perfect paint job on my top coat. I wanted that weathery look, so I went light with the paint.
Before the paint was completely dry, I pulled up my vinyl. Holy heck...it worked like a charm!
Bumpy board + smooth lettering lines...not your normal outcome, no?
Then I took the sign out to the garage to sand it. Since I used the hemp oil and wax puck, I knew I wouldn't need my palm sander that I normally use for weathering. The paint just falls off with one pass of the sanding sponge (I use these here). The hemp oil really gives it an authentically weathered look when used with the milk paint.
I went over my entire board with a dark wax (I used Annie Sloan's). I apply wax in quarter-sized amounts with an old t-shirt and work it into the wood in a circular motion. If you feel like your board is too greasy, apply a dab more wax to "pull" some of the wax off...sounds counterintuitive, but it works. You can see here that I've just waxed the top left corner of this sign...to show how it makes it look.
So what do you think? I set her next to my "tree in a crock"...which is also a newbie to the Christmas decor line up this year. And the vintage Santa sack was from my mother-in-law a few years back. I saw a super cute similar one on Amazon here.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas 'round these parts.