I’ve already shared about our family’s love for books in previous posts, so it should be no surprise that when I saw pictures of fantasy sign posts using favorite literary places, I NEEDED to make one. Not only was it such a great idea, but I had the perfect place to put it. In our backyard is an old tree trunk that was cut off about 6 feet from the ground because the tree had died. I thought of attaching a flag to it or adding a birdhouse to the top, but nothing ever grabbed my interest… until the sign post idea came along.
There are many pictures of various sign posts floating around the Internet, but I wanted to offer my unique take on this cool trend and give you some insight into how I did mine. It turned out better than I ever dreamed and is such a great symbol for our family.
The first step is to choose your locations. I chose fictional literary locations, but you could also do real places that you have traveled or lived. The most important thing is to choose places that are meaningful to your family. Each member of our family helped choose the locations from books that we love: Hogwarts (Harry Potter), Narnia (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe), Camp Half-Blood (Percy Jackson), Fablehaven (Fablehaven Series), and The Shire (Lord of the Rings).
Decide on the look you want. Do you want old and rustic? Or would you prefer bright and colorful? Maybe you like the look of carved or burned wood? Perhaps you like the painted look? It doesn’t matter what you choose, but it generally looks best if you stay with the same basic style for all of your location signs.
I went out to my handy-dandy pallet pile and found some scrap pieces of wood that would work for this project. I tried to choose wood that was different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses so that it wouldn’t be too uniform and would give a whimsical look.
I cut each piece of pallet wood to the size and shape that I liked, and then gave them all a good sanding. Remember that signposts are for giving directions, so your actual shape can be an arrow or you can paint arrows afterward. For the Hogwarts sign, I added an extra special touch by creating the shape of a pointing hand. I drew out the basic shape that I wanted and then used an extra thin coping saw to cut the outline.
When you have your wood ready to go, it’s time for the painting and lettering. I wanted the colors and style of the lettering to fit the theme of the book that was represented. You can make the lettering really accurate by searching for specific fonts that were used in the books or movies and downloading them.
There are many methods for transferring lettering onto wood. You can definitely use vinyl, but I love to hand paint my signs. I print my words on paper exactly how I want them to look, and then tape them to the board using painter’s tape. Next, I use a pen that is out of ink or that writes in a color that is close to the color of the wood so that it won’t be noticed. Carefully trace the letters on your paper, pressing hard with your pen so that it creates an indentation on the wood underneath. Sometimes the pen rips through the paper slightly, but that isn’t a problem. The indentation is important because not only does it tell you where to paint, but it also create a nice little “ditch” so the paint stay inside your lines.
When hand painting small details, be sure to get some good brushes that will create the straight lines and angles that you need. It takes a little practice and patience, but the finishing product will be beautiful. Besides words, I also added some symbols on some of the signs and painted them as well. When all your painting is done, use several coats of clear top coat to seal your work. If your signs are going outside, make sure that your top coat is weather and water resistant.
Now that your signs are ready to go, you just need to attach them to your sign post. If you are lucky like me and have the perfect tree trunk in your yard, just nail your signs straight to the wood. If you are putting them indoors in a playroom or reading nook, you can create your own post using a 2X3 piece of wood, stained in whatever color you desire. Attach it to the wall using nails or sheetrock screws and then nail your signs to your post.
And your done! A beautiful, unique creation that is personal to your family, and will be a talking point for years to come.