How to Make Your Own Cottage Signs & Plaques

Written by katharine godbey
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Cottage decorating is an extension of country decorating. Elements of this style include displaying handmade signs and plaques. Along with vintage collections, light colours, and eclectic variety of furniture a home develops a cosy atmosphere. Instead of purchasing ready-made signs or plaques, make your own to reflect your personality and colour preferences. Handmade cottage signs complement many rooms in a home including bathroom and bedroom.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Wood sign and plaque blanks
  • Sand paper (medium and fine grain)
  • Wood sealer
  • Paint brushes
  • Acrylic paint
  • Wax candle
  • Towel
  • Stencils
  • Painter's tape
  • Stencil paint
  • Stencil brushes
  • Matt varnish

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  1. 1

    Sand the signs and plaques until they are smooth, if needed. Begin with a medium grain sand paper followed by a fine grain paper.

  2. 2

    Apply a wood sealer to the signs and plaques and allow them to dry. Drying time varies with humidity and temperature conditions. Follow the manufacturer's directions accordingly.

  3. 3

    Paint the signs or plaques in with an undercoat shade of your choice. For example if you want to make a plaque white with some green showing through after the surface is distressed, paint it with a green undercoat. The distressing will remove a small amount of the top colour allowing the undercoat to show through in some places.

  4. 4

    Rub the wax candle over the wood surfaces lightly. The wax will stick to the painted surface and help create the worn look common in cottage decorating.

  5. 5

    Paint the top coat of paint in the colours of your choice. Allow to dry for 24 hours or until it no longer tacky.

  6. 6

    Sand the surface and edges lightly with fine grain sand paper. Sand them a little or as much as you desire to get the degree of wear wanted. Wipe away the dust with a towel. This will create a distressed looked over the surface.

  7. 7

    Place the stencils on the signs and plaques as desired. After making sure they are aligned correctly tape them in place to prevent shifting. There is a variety of stencils available at local craft stores and online stencil stores.

  8. 8

    Apply a small amount of stencil paint to the stencil brush. Working in a circular motion, apply the paint beginning at the edges of the stencil cutouts and working toward the centre. If the brush has too much paint on it dab it on a paper towel. Use a different brush for each colour of paint. Allow the paint the dry.

  9. 9

    Paint a coat of matt varnish over the signs and plaques after removing the stencils and tape. Let dry before handling.

Tips and warnings

  • Acrylic paint may also be used for stencils. Use a very small amount of paint and dab the brush on a paper towel before painting. Dab the brush on the wood lightly.
  • Antique the signs and plaques by rubbing acrylic antiquing gel over the surface and rubbing it away. A damp sponge works well for applying and rubbing the antiquing gel after the distressing has been completed.

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