NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

September 11, 2013

Making a statement

Signs are everywhere, so create your own

Walk into a crafts or home furnishings store today and notice all the signs: rows upon rows of prefabricated signs that speak of love, blessings, family and home.

There’s the ubiquitous “Live, Laugh, Love” and “Kiss the cook.” Other signs offer guidance for staying strong, building courage or getting happy.

Those signs can’t be that difficult to make — and personalize — ourselves, right?

It depends.

If you want to make signage with a folksy, imperfect bent, then sure, that’s easy to do. If you’re after something more sophisticated — if you’d like to create signs for the home that mirror those sold in stores — there’s a little more work involved.

LeAnne Stowe of Overland Park, Kan., says that if perfection is not the goal, signs are “super-easy to make.” She started handcrafting some a year ago, after viewing a tutorial on the website Pinterest. They fit well with Stowe’s interest in refurbishing “rescued relics,” aka flea market finds, which she sells on her Facebook page, Annie’s Barn.

She paints her signs mostly on inexpensive pine boards or recycled barn wood.

“People love the rustic feel of barn wood,” Stowe says.

In the beginning, she painted on stretched cotton canvas — cheap and available at any crafts store — using vinyl letters and acrylic paint (spray-paint works, outside or in a well-ventilated room). Place the vinyl letters on the canvas, spray or brush paint over the entire surface (then maybe again for a second coat after the first one dries), lift off the lettering and voila!

The canvas itself can be painted or wrapped (and stapled in back) with a vibrant fabric beforehand to give the message added pizazz.

This is the way homemade signs ought to be made, asserts Bob Richter, an interior designer and cast member of PBS’ treasure-hunting series “Market Warriors.”

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