typography wall art – tutorial

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I posted about making changes to my living room here a couple of weeks back.
It’s actually changed even more since then, but I’ll let you in on that in another post!
So, one of the changes was adding in some subway”ish” wall art to one of the walls.  I say subway”ish” since it’s not technically subway art, but you get my drift ;D

I thought I’d show you how I did it since I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one in the world without a Silhouette machine.  Although, there are times it seems that way!  So, this is the old school way to make them 😀
What you’ll need:
  • wood panel (I used two precut 16×36 pieces found at Lowes, want to say they were around $12 ea.)
  • primer (not a must)
  • paint for background
  • paint marker/pen
  • sand paper
  • stain
  • poly
  • computer with printer and paper
  • chalk
  • pencil
  • tape
  •  hanging hardware
STEP ONE:  Prime your piece of wood.  This is optional.  I did it because I wanted to see some of the gray primer show through when I distressed it.
STEP TWO:  Paint on your background color and let dry.

STEP THREE:  Using your computer, print out the wording you want.  I was looking around Pinterest for ideas (Ummm… ADDICTING) and found inspiration from a print by Made By Girl that I thought would be perfect.  I used Microsoft Publisher and created a custom sized page design to match the size of my pieces of wood (16″x36″). After I played around with font size and layout, I changed the font to an outline form so that when I printed it out I didn’t waste a bunch of ink.

Line up and tape together your sheets of paper.

STEP FOUR:  Flip the paper over and rub the entire backside with chalk.
STEP FIVE:  Position the paper on the piece of wood and trace around the words with a pencil.

Remove the paper and you will have a chalk outline of your words.

STEP SIX:  Use a paint marker to trace and fill in the words.  Let dry.

STEP SEVEN:  If you’d like, distress the edges and lightly sand over the front of the entire piece.  To give it a little more of an aged look you can dip a paper towel into some stain and rub it over the front and edges.

STEP EIGHT:  Apply a thin coat of poly and let dry.

STEP NINE:  Attach hanging hardware.  I took mine off an old mirror I wasn’t using.

STEP TEN:  Enjoy!!!

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I’ll be linking up to these fab parties!


  1. The Doodler Avatar

    Love it! Confession: it took me a second before I figured out what the words were. Maybe I shouldn't blog stalk late at night. 🙂 But once I figured it out…LOVE IT! I'm a new follower!

    Brie from darlingdoodles.blogspot.com

  2. Debra Avatar

    That turned great! I don't have a Silhouette either and I often feel like the only one. 🙂

  3. Miranda Avatar

    Brilliant tutorial and ideas. I just finished up something similar, but yours was so much more organized and sensible. Plus it came out perfect. Great job!

  4. notyet100 Avatar

    so cool,.thnks for this,.

  5. Emily Avatar

    That's gorgeous! Thanks for the great idea! I'm stopping by from the Tuesday Confessional link up.

    Emily from Nap Time Is My Time

  6. Y Mama Avatar

    Super cute! I don't have a silhouette machine either!! This was perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Carrie Avatar

    Very cute! might just use this tutorial myself.

  8. Adriane Avatar

    These turned out great!! love the idea:)and your blog looks so cute…I'm going to become your newest follower!!

    -Adriane @ fruitfulhomejournal.blogspot.com

  9. Patricia Torres Avatar

    TOTALLY LOVE IT… Such an amazing idea.. and you've made it look so so simple!! Thanks for linking in.. 🙂

  10. Stacy Curran Avatar

    Wow, this is amazing! You did a great job!

  11. Christin Avatar

    You are so great at instructing in a clear way. I'm so impressed with these!

  12. Marsha Avatar

    This was a great lesson. I don't have a Silhouette, either.

  13. Beverly@southernhomesweethome Avatar

    Great tutorial! Never could figure out how someone could paint in the lines that well. Prob solved. Love the signs.

  14. Yvonne @ StoneGable Avatar

    Shelly, You did a masterful job! I love how professional it looks! I would love to make a couple of signs with all the cities we have traveled to . Wonderful idea!

  15. Jordan@the2seasons Avatar

    Those are great! I am trying to figure out where I can put one in my house if I make one. Good idea with the chalk and paint pen!

  16. Natasha in Oz Avatar

    Wow, that is amazing! You did a brilliant job with this piece.

    Have you pinned a picture about it? I'd love to check out your Pinterest boards! I am so addicted to it and I even host a weekly pinning party on the weekends. Please pop by and check it out if you 5 minutes to spare.

    Best wishes and great job!

    Best wishes,

  17. g.suzie Avatar

    Great 'Tut' I've been wanting to try some subway art. . .Yours looks
    You have inspired me with your cleverness! Please show and tell
    the rest of your room sometime!

  18. Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement Avatar

    What a great project! You are so creative!

    Have a great day.

  19. Kelsey Avatar

    Great! I have been addicted to pinterest too! I am totally going to do one of these signs but I don't have a cricutter or anything else like that soooooo this post was timely and very clear! Awesome! Great job too by the way!

  20. evie @ brown paper packages Avatar

    Those look awesome!! Great to see a tutorial that DOESN'T involve a Silhouette too! 🙂

  21. raggygirlvintage Avatar

    fab project, you did a great job!!

  22. Michele @ {Primp} Avatar

    Love your signs! I made a similar one last valentine's it was a lot of fun. Yours look really cool and I like the idea of using the paint pen–thanks for sharing!

  23. Kathryn Avatar

    Nice work, Shelley. When you run out of wall space in your house, you can come use mine!! 🙂

  24. trophyw.blogspot.com Avatar

    Very cool. I love the paint marker idea. Thanks for linking up!

  25. Suzy www.savedbysuzy.blogspot.com Avatar

    Shelley – you rocked it AGAIN! I absolutely love these and I really want to try making one. And, I thought I was the only one w/o a Silhouette!

  26. paige Avatar

    This is very cool – and educational because everyone in your house can learn those words in every language! I want to make this one.

  27. Camie at "Home is where they love you" Avatar

    This is awesome…and such a cool way to share the "love"!

  28. Tonya Avatar

    Great idea!! They look beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  29. ritajoy @harbourbreeze Avatar

    Very well done. It looks great! I, too, am "Silhouette-less", and make signs almost exactly like you do…although, I never thought of a paint pen. What a great idea! Where do you buy them?

  30. The Remodeled Life Avatar

    Great tutorial! I love these!!! I'm with you – no machine here so I love your idea. They turned out beautiful!

  31. Aubrey {All Things Bright and Beautiful} Avatar

    That looks so awesome…I can't believe you free handed that!!! You are amazing, girl, I'm thoroughly impressed (c: But definitely not confident enough in my own abilities to actually attempt it myself…but that is another story for another day! ha! Have a great weekend!

  32. april@gingerbread Avatar

    amazing…I cant believe you wrote those words…I hope you will link up with me here:

  33. KJ@letsgoflyakite Avatar

    Using a paint marker is an excellent idea. I love how these turned out. Well done.

  34. Miss Gracie's House Avatar

    Great tutorial…THANKS

  35. Lori Avatar

    Fantastic, thanks for the tutorial. Visiting from TT&J

  36. Lisa Avatar

    Love the two hanging side by side! They look great!

  37. abby Avatar

    Great Tutorial! I love the chalk part….Thanks!

  38. Big D and Me Avatar

    Looks wonderful – I've had a bored like this laying around for just this purpose. I am definitely going to start it this weekend…or maybe next weekend:)

    New follower

  39. The Hopeless Romantic Avatar

    These turned out great! Thanks for sharing ur secrets, i plan on making one of these soon, after dreuling over the hight priced ones in Ballard Designs, not that long ago. I remember thinking as i studied them. "I can make that", LOL, now i know that for sure. Still trying to figure out what graphics i want on it though……..Stop by for a visit if u get time……..now ur follower, Bonnie

  40. glamourpuss Avatar

    These look wonderful!! I may have to do some for my house! 🙂

  41. Sarah, Three Boys Avatar

    Nice job! Those look great. You are too smart with the chalk trick:) And FYI the changing table isn't for me, it's a client. No more babies over here!

  42. notes of sincerity Avatar

    This is just fantastic!! I have not tried the chalk method and really need to get my hands on some of those paint pens! :o) Thank you for sharing it with us. :o)
    Sincerely, Trish

  43. Chef in Training Avatar

    love this! what great tutorial and it looks fabulous!

    I would love it if you would share this and/or any other projects you have been up to at Tuesday Talent Show at Chef In Training Tomorrow! Plus there is going to be a fun giveaway too! Thanks so much and I hope to see you there!

  44. Kassi @ Truly Lovely Avatar

    Love that you used several languages! That'll be something for the little one to learn as she grows older! Thanks for sharing on Fancy This Fridays!!!

  45. Chef in Training Avatar

    the different languages are so fun! Thanks so much for linking up to Tuesday Talent Show! I would love to have you stop by and link up again tomorrow with more great projects!

  46. Elisabeth Avatar

    lol You are not the only one that doesn't own a Silhouette. I'm another and that's exactly why I found your site. I was looking for how to make subway wall art without a machine.

    So, I'm very glad to have found a way that doesn't look tedious (as in cutting out every single letter).

    Your wall art looks great!

  47. Angie Avatar

    Thanks for inspiring me! I made a present for my dad using your method! 🙂 I am new to writing a blog, but I posted some pics if you're interested. 🙂

  48. Web 2 print Avatar

    Nice posting, what I am exactly searched is available in your website. Thanks Bye

  49. Carli Avatar

    I LOVE this! I don't have a silhouette machine either 🙁

  50. Vick Avatar

    Hey! I absolutely love this creation! And I'm so glad you used Hungarian word too, but let me correct that word 🙂 "Love" is in hungarian means "Szerelem", "szeretet" rather means "affection" 🙂 Keep up great work! Greetings from Budapest, Hungary (Üdv = Hey)

  51. Anonymous Avatar

    Hello! What font did you use and how did you get the a and e to "stick" together in kaerlighed? Thank you!

    1. Shelley {Crazy Wonderful} Avatar

      I can't for the life of me remember the font I used, but the A and the E is a symbol you can find by clicking on insert symbol in your tool bar. Hope this helps!

  52. Anonymous Avatar

    I don't have publisher is there a way to print like this on word?

  53. karthik sekar Avatar

    Add Your Linksubmit your links for more traffic

  54. Erin Avatar

    This is so cool! We just moved from Ohio to Richmond and I might do one board of each state and the famous things about each. 🙂 So cool.

Meet Shelley

Hi, I’m Shelley! My belief is that with a little creativity and elbow grease, you can make your home look like a million bucks without spending it.

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