DIY Craft Tutorial: How to Make a Beach-Themed Welcome Sign
When I think of summer, I immediately think of the sun and fun of being at the beach. I don't live near the ocean, so I decided to bring the beach to me by creating this bright and cheerful beach-themed welcome sign. This sign can be displayed both inside or outside, on a door, on the wall, or on a side table or mantle. This project uses a basic frame, some wood pieces, paint, and ribbon for a finishing touch.
Although I created a beach welcome sign with a lighthouse and cottages, you could use the same idea and tutorial to create a sign that depicts your own neighborhood, a Christmas village, historic landmarks, or any other collection of buildings and architectural sights.
I used small pieces and scraps of wood for my project, but you could also use foam board and decorative paper to create a similar sign for indoor use only.
Materials You'll Need
- a basic wooden picture frame (size and dimensions of your choice) - the frame needs to have a back and glass that can be removed completely. The frame itself should be somewhat wide (at least 1 and 1/2 inches) and have a solid, flat surface that you can glue your wood pieces to. My frame had an outside dimension of 11 by 13 inches. If you want to be able to hang your sign as mine is shown, your frame will have to be made of wood.
- thin wood pieces that are easy to cut - I was able to buy a package of 3/16" plywood sheets at my local craft store that were about 4 by 6 inches in size, but you can use any thin wood that you have on hand. You can also use 3/16" foam board if you plan to only display your project inside.
- a small saw or utility knife for cutting your wood or foam board - I was able to cut my wood pieces with a heavy duty utility knife and metal ruler.
- a variety of acrylic paints and brushes - colors of your choice. You can also use decorative paper or scrapbook paper if you plan to only display your sign inside.
- buttons, cut letters, and other scraps of wood and trimmings (optional) for designing and decorating your buildings
- graph paper, pencil, ruler, and scissors
- white craft glue and hot glue
Materials for Optional Hanging Loop
- small drill
- wire clothes hanger, needle nose pliers, and heavy wire cutters
- super glue
- (optional) ribbon in a variety of colors and styles
1. Removed the backing piece and glass from your picture frame so that you just have the basic frame. You can paint your frame using acrylic paint if you choose.
2. Measure or trace the outside dimensions of your frame precisely on to a piece of graph paper. Once you have the outline of your frame of your graph paper, start sketching and laying out your buildings. Pay special attention to the corners. Notice I added a small building with a sloped roof so that it fit next to the other buildings.
Your building can represent any scene you choose, but I would suggest that the overall shapes of your buildings stay very basic. Simpler shapes will be easier to cut out of your wood or board. You can add more detail to your buildings with paint and trim later.
I designed my scene with the buildings bumped right next to each other so that none of my frame showed in between them. You may want to add at least one distinctive feature to your scene to make it recognizable. I added a lighthouse and buildings shaped like cottages or cabanas to give my sign a special beach theme.
3. Once you have your buildings drawn out, add some idea of the details you want each building to have. These details can be just a basic sketch, but this step will help when painting and decorating your pieces later.
4. When your scene is complete, number your buildings starting in the left hand lower corner. These numbers will help you assemble your scene in the right order. Then carefully cut out each of your buildings to use as templates for cutting your wood pieces.
5. Next, trace each building on to a piece of wood or foam board using a pencil and ruler. Be precise so that your buildings will fit cleanly together on your sign. Transfer the number onto your wood piece so you know the order your buildings need to be in. You do not need to add the decorative detail on to your wood pieces.
6. Cut out each of your wood pieces using a saw or utility knife. Lightly sand your edges if needed.
7. (Optional) I wanted each of my buildings to have a funky, unique look, so I used my scrap wood, plus some pieces of dowel, paint sticks, and reed to add layers of architectural detail to each building. I glued these layers on using just basic white craft glue.
If you add these extra pieces, be careful not to add anything that overlaps the sides of your buildings and may cause them not to fit tightly together when you assemble your sign.
Make sure to keep each building labelled with its number of order.
I added these layers of scrap wood to create an abstract look, but you could also add recognizable details if you wanted to recreate a specific scene.
8. Once you have all the detail added to your buildings, you can start to paint them. Use your paper template as a guide for painting your buildings. Be sure to paint the top, sides, and bottom of your pieces too as they may show on your sign.
If you plan to display your sign inside, you can also decorate your buildings with scrapbook paper, washi tape, and ribbon.
I painted my buildings in a variety of bright colors and added some buttons for additional interest. When done, be sure to let your buildings dry completely.
Optional Wire Hanging Loop
I made a wire loop for hanging my sign, but this is optional. You can choose to display your sign on a table top or mantle, or you can hang it using the hardware that came with your frame (be careful that your hanging wire does not show behind your buildings). If you want to make a wire hanging loop:
9. Using wire cutters, cut the hook off of a wire clothes hanger and straighten it out.
10. Choose a drill bit that is the same size as your wire. Drill a hole on each side of your frame that is located slightly below where the horizontal piece of your frame meets the sides. I drilled my hole towards the back side of my frame so that my wire loop would rest closer to the wall (see photo above). Make your drill hole about 3/4 of an inch deep.
11. With needle nose pliers, take the end of your wire hanger and bend a 3/4 inch tab at a 90 degree angle to your wire rod.
12. Take the rest of your wire hanger and gently bend it into an arch that spans the top of your frame (see photo above).
13. Cut your wire hanger to the proper length and make another tab on the other end of the hanger as before.
14. Put a little super glue in each of the holes and firmly insert your tabs on each side.
Assembling Your Sign
15. Line up your dry and completed buildings by number. Using hot glue and starting with number 1, glue and place each of your buildings around your frame in order. Be sure to place each building carefully so that they all fit into place. Make sure your corners and edges match up squarely so you sign looks neat.
16. Continue to place and glue all your buildings and elements around your frame. If you do have noticeable gaps between your buildings, you can cover them with small trees cut from wood or use buttons as bushes to add landscaping to your scene.
17. I also layered some stars with a button to create a sun for my scene. Then I glued on some wooden letters to add a cheery welcome to my sign.
18. (Optional) I added some pieces of ribbon and twine to decorate my hanger. I cut my ribbon and twine into 7 inch lengths and tied it to my wire using double knots. When I was finished, I trimmed any pieces that seemed too long.
© 2017 Donna Herron