Introduction: Chasing Marquee Sign

About: Special event designer and scenic artist

Hi and welcome to my Chasing Marquee sign Instructable! This sign was originally created for a Halloween event but the general design can be carried over into any theme.

The sign itself is made of wood & extruded polystyrene foam board with lighting from Novelty Lights.

Ok let's get started.

Step 1: Materials

Materials needed:

Adobe Illustrator or similar program for scaling a font for print

Home Printer, paper, scissors and sharpie

Novelty Lights Chasing Controller

Novelty Lights 250' spool of wire

(4) Male Plugs

50 Pack sockets

(36) G50 Globe Bulbs (buy extra)

Wire Cutter

Electrical Tape

1/2" or 3/4" 4'x8' plywood of your choosing

1" 4'x8' Extruded Polystyrene foam board (blue or pink)

Loctite Foam Adhesive



1" Forstner Bit

Staple Gun & Staples

Measuring tape

Yard stick

Sanding sponge

Hot Glue Gun and Hot glue

Red Latex Paint for Foam board frame

Black Latex paint for wood board stripes

White Latex Paint

Gold Acrylic Paint

Gold spray paint

Paint Brushes (both for latex and oil stain)

Paint Roller

Small Bucket or plastic cup for watering down latex paint

Miniwax Oil based Weathered Oak Wood stain

(2) Birch Accent Molding

Step 2: Creating the Digital Design & Stencil

I always create my signs in Adobe Illustrator first. This allows me to scale everything properly and then print my letters for stencils. If you don't have Adobe Illustrator you could probably use Microsoft Word or Photoshop and probably others.

I got the original border graphic from a vector site. It has really affordable vector graphics that are great for this kind of project. Just search for vintage borders.

The title font is Carnival Freak Show - found for free at a variety of font sites.

I have attached the digital file for this project in both pdf and .ai files if you are able to use them. The file is the entire sign to scale 4'x7' in total length and width.

If you have a projector on hand that is powerful enough to create fine edge for lettering, I highly recommend using that. If not, you can create stencils using your home printer.

Whatever program you are using, it is as simple as taking the original scaled font into an 8.5 x 11 file. Simply move the letters into the printable area, print and repeat until you get every piece of the sign printed. Then tape or glue prints together to create the full scale stencil. Cut out prints.

Step 3: Make the Backboard and Frame

This was made for a vintage Night Circus theme, so I wanted the wood and paint to look worn. To achieve this look with paint, you simply water the paint down by putting paint into a cup or small bucket and add water. Stir it around until it is thinned but not translucent.

I free handed the frame design based on that original vector graphic. If you don't feel comfortable free handing, you could project the image or even create an outline stencil.

I measured it to 7 ft in length and drew the curved sides. I measured the center and drew the curved top and bottom, then with a little bit of measuring, connected the curves.

Using a jigsaw, cut the drawn shape.

Sand edges using sanding sponge.

Place plywood shape on top of foam board and trace edge.

Draw inside edge on foam board. This edge was also done by hand and is easier than you think. Just be sure to measure in from outer edge the same all around. In this case, i think it was 3".

Cut foam frame, sand, if needed and paint red. Let dry.

While frame is drying, apply stain to wood board. Using a stain brush, brush stain, let soak in for the required minutes as instructed on can. Wipe excess stain using a cloth and let dry.

Dilute white paint in bucket with a bit of water. When stain coat is dry, apply light coat of white on top of stain layer.
Wipe excess paint.

Once dry, sand entire surface using sanding sponge.

Wipe excess dust.

Using yard stick, draw stripes vertically using a pencil.

Dilute black latex paint in bucket with a bit of water.

Paint in stripes with black. Wipe excess paint. Let dry.

Once frame and back board are dry, glue frame to board using Loctite Foam Adhesive.

Time to make letters.

Step 4: Cut Letters and Apply to Sign

You will be using what is left over from the foam board to create your letters.

Place cut out stencil onto foam board and trace using a sharpie.

Get out your jig saw and let the fun begin.

This can be difficult. The foam can break. The curves can be challenging.

While cutting, make sure you have a good flat surface and a strong hold on foam itself. This keeps the foam from shaking and breaking. You may break part of the letter. If that happens you can simply repair with glue but if it's too bad you may want to start over and cut out a new letter.

I broke a few myself, especially when doing the "The", which was smaller in size.

Once you get them all cut, it's time to paint using your gold Acrylic. Apply 2 coats. Let dry.

This is a good time to spray paint those decorative trim pieces. Apply 2 coats, let dry.

Using hot glue, place and glue letters to backboard. I used hot glue as opposed to Loctite adhesive becuse hot glue dries much faster. Plus you need it to adhere the trim pieces to the sign.

Ok sign is almost done! Time to move on to the fun part! LIGHTS!

Step 5: Prep for Lighting

There are 36 holes and bulbs for this sign. If you decided you want a different amount of lights, just know it needs to be divisible by 4 since there are 4 plugs for the chasing controller.

You can measure these holes or eyeball it. We eyeballed it starting with the center. A few of my holes are off, but the end result is fine.

Use the forstner bit on your drill and keeping a steady hand for that initial cut, drill in and make 36 holes.

Time to wire.

Step 6: Wire Your Lighting and Add Bulbs

The chasing controller has 4 channels. This means that every 4 bulbs is 1 channel.

Choose your starting point and number each hole 1,2,3,4 and so on.

Using your wire cutters, spool of wire and sockets, you simply snap sockets onto wire.

Before you staple wire, make sure your sockets fit into holes. Push each one through.

Staple wire along back, making sure that the #1,2,3,4 wire goes to corresponding holes and so forth.

When you reach the end of the lines, cut wire and close off with electrical tape.

Once finished, snap male plugs to end. Make sure you label each plug so they plug in to correct channels on controller.

Insert bulbs.

Step 7: Plug In, Install and Enjoy

If you want to get an idea of the work involved, a quick 3 minute video of the "making of" is below.

Thanks for reading!

Halloween Decor Contest 2015

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2015