In this tutorial I will share my process for making a great looking sign to attract customers to your crafts booth.
A sign is that finishing touch our display needs to ground it, and make it project at the same time. It is as fundamental as the furniture that we use to displays our wares.
DIY this sign with the help of your Local Vinyl Sign Shop
I created my own painted wood base, designed the lettering, then took it over to the local sign shop and had them cut out and attach the vinyl lettering. You could also paint the letters yourself, if you have that talent.
Wood (birch plywood), paint, sandpaper (220 grit), water based wood varnish, hook eyes, chain & S-hook
Drill, optional wood cutting tools (chop saw, table saw, jig saw) if you want to cut the wood yourself.
Step 1 – Design Concept
Really spend the time to develop your sign concept and play around with a variety of fonts.
The first thing I did was visit Pinterest, typed in the word, “signage”, then browsed for a while. This is where I found inspiration for the sign that I eventually built
Because there is only one product in the journal booth, it was decided to omit the business name and provide only the pertinent information about the product…. this for simplicity’s sake.
For this particular craft booth display, I felt that an old-fashioned sign would look right at home.
It has the word vintage, so I wanted to make sure to support that in the design. I felt that serif fonts and black paint would support this design concept as well. The word recycled is a newer word, and it made sense to me that the font would be contemporary and sans-serif.
It is important to think about every aspect of the design, shape, color, font and other images. Every decision should support and project your brand (we used to call it our “vibe” back in the day).
Step 2 – Select and Cut your Wood
I used birch plywood because I love the quality, and smooth finish. You can get it cut to size at your local lumber yard.
I didn’t want square corners on this sign, so I chopped them off with my chop saw. If you have access to a jig saw, you could cut out a more interesting shaped sign.
Step 3 – Paint & Sand Edge
I lightly sanded the surface, then painted all the sides with paint I purchased as a sample size, at Home Depot. The sample cost less than 3 dollars, and they will make it to order for you.
I didn’t primer this sign because I wanted a thin paint layer. Thick paint will chip when it gets damaged.
When the paint is dry, take sand paper and hit the edge to reveal the wood underneath. This gives your sign a perfect border and really gives it that professional sign maker touch.
Step 4 – Varnish
Now take acrylic varnish (I used semi gloss) and paint the sign: front, sides and back.
This is key because it makes the exposed wood (the sanded edge), and the paint, all have the same level of gloss, and will waterproof the sign.
In my case, the sample paint from Home Depot only came in flat finish, so this gave it some shine. One or two coats should do it.
Step 5 – Insert Hook Eyes
Drill pilot holes where your hook eyes will go. Make the hole only slightly smaller than the hook shank, and make sure that it is deep enough to take the entire shank.
Here you can see the error that I made. I purchased hook eyes that were probably too big, then I didn’t drill the whole large enough, or deep enough. The plywood split by the next morning…..ouch!
I used a short piece of chain and “s” hooks for the hanger (not pictured). I think rope or wire could have worked just as well.
Step 6 – Take your Sign to the Sign Shop for Vinyl Lettering
Your sign is now ready to take to the sign shop. In my case I designed the lettering in Illusrator and delivered it as a PDF to the sign shop.
I had already visited the shop and looked at their vinyl color selection. The vinyl I selected for this sign, is a flat metallic silver and a weird retro green. If you don’t see the color you need, they can order this for you.
Where I live, it feels like a conspiracy that the minimum charge at these shops is exactly 35 dollars. I have never had any small sign cost more than this minimum.
The sign shop can design your signage lettering as well. I would suggest playing with different fonts in what ever word processing program you may have, so that you walk in with a good idea of what you want. Print out examples you found on the internet to bring with you.
Most sign shops are not used to making tasteful signs for crafts people, but for retail businesses who need to get noticed from passing cars. Take their suggestions with caution. They will likely suggest 3 or 4 different color zany fonts…that will get you noticed…big time!
One of the best things about having a new sign is all the love you will get from your fellow vendors for finally getting that sign made.
Let me know if this tutorial was helpful to you, or if you need any clarification of the instructions.
Kind Regards, Holly