Thursday, December 13, 2012

Making Your Own Joy . . . A Joy Sign That Is!

Good morning!  A few weeks back, I was commissioned to make large "joy" signs from two women.  I was very happy with how they turned out . . . and kind of sad I didn't get to keep one.  I have received many compliments on them and questions as well.  I thought I would give you a quick tutorial on how I made these . . . maybe you can bring some "Joy" to your home as well!

First, I gathered up old barnwood.  A couple years ago we were lucky enough to get a phone call from an older couple in our church that were offering us some free barnwood.  We hightailed it up to their lovely old homestead on Greenbluff . . . a beautiful area near us filled with orchards and produce.  The wood was stacked in an old outbuilding and midway through we saw a very happy and healthy black widow.  But, as true pickers, this didn't slow us down . . . although I wish the spider would have gotten squished instead of getting away . . . all day I kept thinking I felt something crawling on me!  When we got it home, within minutes I made a great shelf in our living room from some of the barnwood.  I already had these great corbels just aching to be used!

 
Normally, I do these projects either outside in warm weather or in my shop.  On this particular day, I was enjoying being in my toasty warm home, so I brought the project in there.  So first I gathered the boards I would need for the length and then I cut two cross boards to length, after I had laid out the boards and knew where to cut them at (I did cut them out in our shop on our table saw.)  For the long pieces, I purposely left them at slightly different lengths and embraced the imperfections of barnwood . . . it was after all, the look I was going for . . . rustic and "down on the farm."  The board lengths averaged about 6 feet long.

 
Next, after hauling our nail gun and air compressor inside the house (my hubby wasn't home or he would have poo-pooed this idea) I laid the boards in place, on top of two other boards that were simply holding these boards off the ground, so that I didn't nail it to my floor!  LOL!  I have had such Lucy moments in the past, so it wasn't a far stretch to think such a thing could happen.  The reason I needed it off the ground was because my nails were longer than the boards.  But, I purposely wanted long nails.  I have discovered if I use nails that do not go all the way through barnwood, since it is so porous, they can easily pull out.  So these nails I nail gunned in and after it was all nailed together, I flipped the piece over and then hammered the protruding ends down at a 90 degree angle . . . so they wouldn't poke anyone and with that sharp angle, they will never work their way out.
 

 
After I got it all nailed together, I then painted it white.  I just used some left over white latex we had.  It was an exterior paint which is probably best if your piece will be in the weather.  I wanted to keep some of the barnwood patina showing through, so I did a "dry brush" technique on it.  Dry brushing is simply not filling the brush all the way (I normally only get paint on the tips of the brush when doing this) and then lightly "dragging" the brush along the rough wood finish . . . this allows the brush to fill in some areas while leaving other areas with the barnwood showing through.  After this initial first dry brush, I went back  second time and "evened it out" where ever I thought it might need more.  I then let it dry for a couple hours.  I swore I took a picture of the white paint being painted, but I can not seem to find such a photo anywhere . . . but I think you get the idea . . . paint it lightly, leaving some barnwood showing through.

In the meantime, got on my handy dandy computer.  I made large letters (I think each letter was about 8 or 9 inches tall) in a fun font.  I have down loaded literally hundreds of fonts from free sites on the internet.  The font I used is called Antique No. 14 Regular.  I then printed off the letters in black ink on my printer.

Once the white paint was fully dry (you might want to wait until overnight just to be sure), I took my letters and graphite tracing paper (available in the art supply section at Michael's or Hobby Lobby) and simply traced it on.  Because this barnwood was so rough, I had to press hard and it was not a very "clean" trace . . . but it was enough to follow and I touched up the rough areas as I painted it.  Normally, you can reuse this graphite paper again and again.  But, because my boards were so rough, by the time I was done with two signs, my poor piece of graphite paper was shredded.

The next step was to paint in the letters.  I just used a "boo-boo" paint I got from Home Depot.  I get boo-boos all the time . . . they are usually only 50 cents for the small and $1.00 for the quart.   So much cheaper than acrylics when you compare ounces and latex paint is stronger.  Lowes will custom mix an 8 ounce "sample size" for only $2.95.  It is a satin finish which is perfect for most of my signs . . . flat tends to show dirt and finger prints too much and gloss is too . . . well . . . glossy!  Unfortunately, Home Depot will only mix these samples in flat, so I do most custom work at Lowes.

When you go to paint the letters, it should now simply be like coloring in a coloring book.  I usually use either a flat or a tapered brush made of natural bristles, such as horse hair.  I hate the stiff nylon or plastic bristles and find they don't "hold" paint well.

Then you simply let it dry . . . then lean it up somewhere on a porch or by an old barn or where ever displays best at your home and enjoy!  The photos of the completed signs below are of the two signs I did, so you will see variances in them, as all barnwood is a bit different.

May you have joy in your lives this holiday season and always!  Joy is not merly happiness . . . happiness is a feeling that is fleeting . . . such as when you buy a great new pair of shoes or enjoy a delicious slice of toll house pie . . . Joy is a deep-seeded peace that can not be shaken even in the midst of the storm.  It is a peace that can only be found through knowing Jesus Christ as your personal savior.  As the saying goes:

No Christ.  No peace.
Know Christ.  Know peace.

May you come to know the Lord as your personal savior this Christmas season!