One of the best things about being a DIY kind of girl is I’m not limited to decorating with things I can find in a store. If I can dream something up, I can make it happen. (Usually. There are some things I just can’t do – like fine art paintings. Just isn’t happening.)
As soon as I started planning my son Griffin’s toddler room, I knew I wanted to make a “Happy Camper” art piece. He’s happy. I love vintage campers. Best of both worlds! Ok, so we haven’t actually taken him camping yet – by the time he was old enough to enjoy it, I was pregnant again and I was not going to be sleeping on the ground while pregnant! But I am 100% certain he is going to adore camping – he’s just a running, climbing, exploring kind of kid.
Painted signs are some of my absolute favorite things to make. They are pretty simple, can go with almost any style, and add tons of character to your walls.
I made this sign using all of my tried and true sign painting techniques and it was way easier than it looks.
To make a painted sign, first you need a piece of wood. I am all about repurposing so I actually painted this sign on the back of a sign that used to be in Griffin’s nursery.
This sign was originally made from a regular old piece of plywood. To get the texture and color I wanted for my background, I dry-brushed on some gray and white paint. (Dry-brushing just means I wiped most of the paint off the brush until it was fairly ‘dry’ and then painted the wood.) Then I used a rag to apply stain over the painted board. I quickly wiped the stain back off with some mineral spirits. This gave the wood a nice weathered gray look.
I think the thing that scares people the most about painting their own signs is the idea that you need to be awesome at drawing/hand lettering. In reality you just need to be able to trace. For this sign I printed an outline of a vintage camper and then used picmonkey to design my sign lettering and printed that as well.
Disregard the crayon scribbles – those are my son’s contribution.
Then you can simply transfer the outlines onto your wood. All you need is a pencil – shade the back of the paper with your pencil, position it where you would like it, and then carefully trace your design. It will be transferred right onto your wood. (For more explanation of this, check out this pencil transfer post.)
I used some craft paint to paint the camper and a Sharpie paint pen to fill in the letters and arrow. And because I’m a sucker for texture, I sanded the whole thing to knock the newness off. (Plus, if you add texture by sanding, nobody is going to be able to tell if you messed up your painting a little bit. Win-win.)
And now I am a happy camper as well!
If you want to make your own Happy Camper sign, you can download the wording to print here.
And if you are a lover of painted signs like I am, here are some of my other favorites you should check out.