DIY Vintage Charleston Sign Tutorial

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How to make a vintage-inspired hand lettered wooden sign. Download the free template for the lettering in the post.
 Please bear with me as I find my blogging groove. My original plan when I began Simplicity In The South was to have two posts a week. I have found that {for now} one a week is more manageable so that I can keep my family happy, find time to do projects/tutorials, work a full-time job, and keep my sanity at the same time. I absolutely LOVE doing this blog gig on the side and want to express my appreciation to all of those that are following along! Believe me, behind the scenes, there is a whole lotta’ work going on to keep this show on the road!
My mantra has been this…

you can do anything but not everything
In a prior post, I had shown you a collection of my favorite vintage sign tutorials.
Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign

The tutorial that I am sharing today uses some of the tips that I learned from that collection along with a little experimentation with some new tips that I found since that post.
To keep costs down, and to eliminate the mountain of scrap wood that has found a home on our family room floor {a.k.a. The Workshop}, I used two left over wooden v-groove planks from our teenage son’s office-in-a-closet planked walls.

These planks come in 8 foot lengths and each one is 3.5 inches wide. I cut two of the planks in half, so the total size of the sign is 48″ x 14″. This sign could also be easily done on a piece of plywood instead.
Once I had the planks together, I flipped the sign over and added strips of lattice wood to the back to keep it together.
Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign

The sign was painted with one coat of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Provence blue and then given a coat of white latex two hours later.

To age the finish, I found a great tip from Funky Junk Interiors. She uses masking tape to pull some of the paint off to give the finish a chippy appearance. This needs to be done before the paint has a chance to cure. I waited about an hour after I painted the latex on to use the tape. Since I didn’t have any masking tape, I used Duct Tape, the 8th Wonder of the World.

Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign

This allows the Provence blue paint to show through. I followed that with some light sanding.

Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign

I had our oldest son make a Photoshop image of the lettering that was inspired by this photograph.

Charleston, South Carolina City Market
Charleston, SC
The fonts I used are Retro Lined, Brush Script and Franchise. If you would like a copy of the sign image in Photoshop (PSD) format that can be printed out to 48″ x 15″, just drop me an email and I will email it to you. The office supply store charged $3.50 to print the image out as an engineer’s print.

Here is the link to the sign image in JPG.

Here is the link to the sign image in photoshop.

To transfer the image to the wood, rub a piece of colored chalk on sheet of paper. Lay this face down on the sign and place the image that you want to trace on top. After you trace the lettering with a ball point pen, the chalk lines can be drawn with a Sharpie marker.

Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign
I did not outline my shadow with the marker since it would be painted blue instead of black. If you use the Retro Lined Font, the shadowing is done for you.
Once you have the lettering outlined, fill in with black craft paint. After the black paint dries, fill in your shadowing effect with a contrasting color. I used the same Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence.
Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign
Allow your paint to dry for about 24 hours, then lightly sand to distress the lettering. Follow with a light whitewash.
For the whitewash, I diluted one tablespoon of white latex paint to 1/8 cup of water. I brushed it on and then wiped it off with a dry rag.
Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign
I have to admit. I love my sign almost as much as the city, itself. Fine southern shopping and hospitality at its best. We will be spending our next summer vacation near there so I’d love to know which antique stores I need to scope out!
Tutorial on how to make a vintage hand lettered sign

Click here to see the vintage inspired Charleston sign in my Simple Summer Vignette pictured below. 


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  1. Oh my heart be still! I saw you featured on Savvy Southern Style and had to come see the Charleston sign! I just moved to Minnesota from Charleston and miss it so much! I love the sign and now have to make one for myself! It could be a couple of years, but thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Would love to have the jpg you mentioned in sign image? I need to do this for my niece that lives in Charleston!

  3. This looks lovely, Tricia! I’ve been waiting patiently for your reveal and tutorial 🙂 I think it’s time to attempt a painted sign with shadowing.

    I know exactly what you mean about having to cut back your blogging pace to maintain balance. I haven’t blogged in almost a month because I just got a job teaching full-time for the rest of the year after almost a year of sporadic work. One day I’ll have time to be creative for fun again!

    All the best!

  4. The sign looks amazing and great tutorial! I’m hearing you, blogging takes a whole lot of work and time, you just do what you can. BTW thank you so much for the paint tips for my kitchen…I just knew there would be someone else on the planet who could describe paint as blue/grey/taupe!! Now to find it! 😉

  5. Wow! I just stumbled upon your blog and have to say I am in awe! I can’t believe you have just started it this year….I have been blogging off and on for a while, struggling along the way. So much actually goes into each post, sometimes its overwhelming. Hang in there…you are doing awesome! I subscribed 🙂 BTW love the house!

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