How to make vintage style carnival signs

Five years ago I started experimenting with a bit of sign making, most of it was for our wedding but I also made a few for glamping sites and some for friends. I have always loved vintage style carnival and circus signs but they tend to be very expensive to buy, so on Saturday, after seeing some old floor boards dumped in our bin area - I decided to upcycle one and create my own carnival style sign.

I used laminate floor boards but any wooden planks would work, these are a perfect size as they range from 20cm wide to 100cm in length.

I headed to Pinterest for some inspiration and looked online for some vintage circus and carnival lettering styles to use.

For the background colour I used a base coat of midnight blue mineral paint, after this layer had dried I used some ultramarine blue acrylic mixed with a little white and roughly painted a thin layer over the midnight blue, just to give it an aged effect.

I measured out the size for each letter and sketched them out freehand. If you aren't confident with your freehand you could make a template by printing the letters out and then making a stencil.

Ideally I would have roughly sketched the letters on to the board using a chalk pen but I ended up cutting around the letters and sticking them down with a glue stick. The hand-drawn look isn't perfect but adds a little charm.

I then used yellow acrylic to paint the background colour of the letters - once this had dried I added detail with red acrylic using a fine brush. I then edged the side of the letters with a thick black marker pen to create a shadow.

The board was then finished off with brown furniture wax to protect it and it also gives it an aged look, you can add darker patches to the edges if you like. I actually rubbed this on using an old sock.

The following day I got a request from a friend to make a sign saying "Joyful" with a turquoise colour background. I repeated all of my steps above. The background was mixed using pale blue emulsion, with Cerulean blue acrylic, yellow acrylic and white acrylic. This one worked better with a solid background colour.

How to make vintage style carnival signs

I will be screwing in metal eyelets and attaching some rope to enable it to be hung on her wall.

I plan to more signs in different colours with happy words like peace, love etc and I will experiment with more retro fonts. Copper or gold guilding wax would also work well smudged into the edges, I don't have any left but I will continue to update my Instagram account with any new makes.

I hope this is helpful. Enjoy!

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