Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Subway art sans Silhouette

Hi! My sister Angela asked me to write a post about my recent diy project.

I love the look of a vintage or distressed subway sign. There are a lot of cool ones on etsy and I saw one at Restoration Hardware that I really liked, but they were VERY expensive. I knew with my new love for spray paint and saws that I could figure out a way to make my own and personalize it.

I searched pinterest and blogs for ideas to make my own subway sign but kept running into the same problem, pretty much all of them used a Silhouette or Cricut, which I don't have. I read another blog that printed the letters on printer paper, cut out the letters traced them onto contact paper and then cut out the contact paper letters, which seemed like way too many steps for me.

I found full sheet sticker paper that I could put in my ink jet printer. Since I knew I had to cut the letters out I looked for a font in Word that had a lot of straight lines, I went with Impact.

I chose different street names in my neighborhood and printed them in small, medium and large sizes, depending on the length of the name. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a small piece of ply wood for about 8 dollars. I put 2 coats of Rust-Oleum Heirloom white spray paint on the wood and once it dried I played around with the placement of the letters.

I liked the height of the ply wood but I knew my words would look too stretched out with the current width of the board. Enter SAW! Ok, well that's a little dramatic, I just drew a line and cut a few inches off the side.

Next it was time to stick the letters to the board. I tried to keep all of the words centered on the board and just eyeballed the vertical spacing, I took my time on this because once the sticker was on the board I would likely ruin it if I tried to peel it up.

Right before I started spray painting I ran my finger over the letters to make sure they were secure. Then I sprayed it with two coats of Rust-Oleum flat black paint.

Once it is dry, the fun begins...peeling off the stickers!! Some of the paper will stick to the wood, I learned the second time I did this that an eraser is the easiest way to remove the little pieces left behind.

Next I sanded the edges and in between some of the letters and hit it with a hammer a few times to distress it. Then I took a little dark brown stain on a paper towel and rubbed it over the sign, a little bit went a long way. After the stain dried I finished it off with a little spray polyurethane.

I'm really happy with how it turned out and I love how it looks in my living room.

I made this one for my sister who lives in Milwaukee. She went to school at Marquette so I included streets running through campus, streets that she used to live on, as well as the street she currently lives on and any street that fit on the board. The second one was easier and more fun to make because I wasn't nervous that it was going to be a diy disaster.


  1. Great job! I love the way your pieces turned out!


  2. Approximately what is the measurement of the wood? I love this and would love to recreate it with Chicago landmarks.

  3. what a cool idea to use stickers if you don't have a cutter! That is clever! :o) thanks for the idea!!!!
    Jaime from crafty scrappy happy