Introduction: Personalized Street Name Signs
No way! Yes way, you can make your own custom personalized street name signs to hang anywhere except out on the street.
No metalworking involved nor fancy industrial printing techniques required. This uses basic crafting which is fun to get everyone involved in making a personalized street name sign.
CAUTION: Not for real use where it would confuse people in the street and probably would irk local politicians wanting the street named for themselves.
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Step 1: Tin Plate Template...
Take a look around you and see what style and colors your local street signs are made in. Do you want to duplicate that or add your own touch and style? You can look up the standards for a real regulation street sign but go with what you like best.
Some have a trim line painted around the entire sign or just top and bottom. Some are plain and mounting hardware seems to be varied.
You need something as the base for your sign. You just need a stiff plank or board in the shape of a long rectangle. It can be any size in proportion to a real street name sign.
I had a few of these MDF wainscoting panels left over from this home improvement project. MDF is compressed sawdust board. They also sell masonite boards and thin luan plywood at the home center that you can cut up. You can just use a nice piece of cardboard or foam board. Coroplast or plastic sheet materials like acrylic would need to be covered with a paper layer to facilitate gluing and painting to it.
These panels are roughly 6 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches.
They have a tongue and groove detail on the long edges. You can cut the tongue off and sand down flat or fill in the open groove on the other side. I did not do that since I felt when painted, it would leave a nice shadow detail..
You could round off the corners or leave it as the sharp square corners.
Step 2: A Little Background First...
I found some fine sized glitter that was on sale at the craft store. Bonus was that it came in a salt shaker like container for easy dispensing. Be careful when trying to get the cap off and then breaking the inner seal on the glitter. That stuff goes flying any chance it gets.
You will need a clear coat fixative for the glitter. I just used Modpodge gloss.
You need to print out some large text to use for the street sign.
You need paint.
You can use any kind of paint but I prefer the ones with easy soap and water cleanup. This is acrylic. Other times I just took what I had from the leftover house paints.
This bottle of green seemed to be a little too bright and cheery for a street sign. I toned it down a bit by adding some blue I had around. I didn't spend too much time in getting a real exact match for the street sign color but darkening the color with black might have been good.
You should always prime your wood or paper with primer paint so you don't use up a lot of the finish color paint for the top coat. Bare wood just soaks up a lot of paint. I knew this was going to take a couple of coats of paint to get a good color match so I didn't bother to prime. You can do a light sanding between coats to get rid of any fuzz raised by the water-based paint. You get a smoother finish that way.
Step 3: Comic Sans Need Not Apply...
You need to create the text that is on the street sign.
I guess you could go shopping for stick on letters or iron on transfers but that would be expensive. I was thinking what was the easiest way to get letters onto the board. I could have used my Silhouette machine to cut a stencil or make the stick on letters. If I was brave enough to do everything by hand, I could project the letters and trace the outline on to the board. I could trace using carbon paper, but no one seems to have any of that around anymore. Rubbing the back of the printed design with a pencil or crayon and then going over it with a ballpoint pen on top would have been sketchy.
Well, I found a free font online that said it was similar to the font they use on highway and street signs. You can use any of the fonts you already have on your computer. Pick a plain one that is clean and legible like a street sign.
I changed the color of the text to gray so I would not waste toner ink and played around with changing the font size to get something that would fit on my board size. I did not find a free suitable outline font to use.
The name was made in 400 point size. The word WAY was made in 300 point size. Depending on your stylizing of your text, you can have variations of upper and lower case, all caps, all same size or varied. Print out your text and mock it up on your board to see how they will fit.
Cut out your characters. I used a straight rotary paper trimmer to block out and rough cut the letters. It gets a straighter line than trying with a pair of scissors. You should then use a utility or x-acto knife to cut out the rest. It is easier than trying to follow the lines with a pair of scissors.
Once all the letters are cut out, recheck the placement and fit of your letters.
Step 4: Add Some Sparkle...
I used glitter that looked white but had some other sparkles that seem to reflect bits of green. I was going to use that over a base background color of metallic silver. You can use white for the brightest look.
Use a brush to coat the individual letters and then sprinkle glitter over it.
I would do this in a bowl to confine the mess and to recapture the excess that does not stick to the letters.
If you see that not enough glitter adheres to the letter, wait for it to dry.
You can then apply another coat of paint or use white glue instead. Dust again with glitter and shake off excess.
Step 5: Do Not Cross the Double Line...
The street sign I wanted had trim color stripes on the top and bottom of the sign.
Use a good masking tape to mark off the line.
Coat the area with paint and dust on glitter.
I should have reprimed the trim area with white paint so it would show up better.
Repeat to build up the glitter or apply enough so that the background green does not show through.
Peel off the masking tape before the paint or glue skins over so that you will have a sharp edge.
Step 6: Stick Your Name on It...
When the trim lines are dry, you are now ready to apply your text.
Mark out where you will apply the letters. You can create a baseline with masking tape.
Coat the back of each letter with glue and position the letters on the board.
I covered with plastic wrap so I could press down and flatten the letters and to make sure they adhered to the board. The plastic wrap cover keeps the excess glue from sticking to your fingers and picking up the glitter that has already dried on the letters.
Once everything is dry, you can coat all over with a sealer. I used Modpodge gloss which is a gluey coating that fills in small gaps where the letters have warped and levels.out the surface. When dry, the letters look like they have been embossed on sheet metal and the gloss gives it that metal like sheen.
I used a foam brush to apply the Modpodge. When it starts to dry and get tacky, it may rip off tiny pieces of the foam brush that you have to pick out before it completely dries. Use a regular bristle brush since the glitter surfaces act like sandpaper. You could spray it with any clear coat instead. An unintended effect of brushing on the clear coat was that it seems to have distributed the excess glitter on the letters into the field of the sign. When viewed directly on with a bright light like when a car approaches, the entire sign acts just like a reflective street sign.
For all you wanting a more ambitious project, you can make your own custom personalized highway direction signs. The same process applies, you might have a few more shapes and colors to deal with. Just paint and glitter each color separately and wait until it dries completely before going on to the next. Of course, you will probably need a bigger board and a bigger space to hang the sign.