Monthly Archives: April 2018

Making Signage From Letter Stencils: Part 1

As a member of the “gig economy” I do contract and part-time consulting, marketing and customer service work for various clients. Two retailers I work with recently had need of some in-store signage. One is a hardware store and one is a craft supply store and they both sell stencils. I’ve been experimenting with letter stencils to make signage that gets the message across and at the same time demonstrates how to use some of the products that the stores sell.

JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Maplewood, MO has a teaching department of which I am a member. The education coordinator asked each teacher to make a sign or two for the classroom samples display to highlight the categories of classes we teach. I was assigned “Kid’s Crafts” and “Jewelry”. I was given two blank pieces of foamcore already cut to size and access to the classroom supply cabinet. Fun!

I like the look of cut-out letters layered over a background. To help me visualize how to arrange the letters on the foamcore board, I cut out some pieces of scrap chipboard and used a letter stencil to trace the outline of each letter in position. Then I decided what colors to use in the actual sign. Since it’s spelling out “Kid’s Crafts” that’s a good excuse to use some really bright colors!

Planning the placement and colors of cutout letters on a sign

I traced the letters again onto the colorful cardstock pieces I selected then cut the letters out with an X-acto knife. I’ll save the cutout letters in case another suitable project comes up.
Cut out letters

Next I selected papers to use as backgrounds for each letter. I marked the foamcore as a rough guide to where I would place the background for each letter.

Selecting backgrounds for the cutout letters

A little black and white in a design is a great way to add visual interest. Some of the background papers already have some white in the pattern. To get some black in the design, I outlined each cut letter with a black Sharpie marker and drew some faux sewing stitch lines to help convey the hand crafts theme. The black outline also covered up my pen lines from when I traced the letters. Black Sharpie markers are such an essential part of my tool kit (like glue sticks) that I buy them wholesale because I go through so many!

Adding details with a black Sharpie marker

In order to read well from a distance, I thought some of the letters needed an improvement in the contrast. I added high contrast solid paper behind the letters that needed to pop a bit more. Then I added a strip of black and white paper tape (also known as design tape and washi tape) to the top and bottom edges for a more finished look.

Assembled sign with paper tape

The final finishing touch was to glue on a few colorful buttons here and there. I used a similar design idea to make my sign for Jewelry. That was fun to make because it gave me a chance to use some “shiny” supplies that are appealing but hard to find a use for that is tasteful and appropriate – metallic papers, silver ribbon, glitter papers and plastic jewels! I outlined the letters in the Jewelry sign with a metallic gold Sharpie paint marker that looks good with the jewel-toned papers and theme. The paint marker also has good enough coverage to conceal my pen lines.

Finished signs for the Jewelry and Kid's Crafts classroom display signs.

These signs were fun to make and also stretched me creatively because I used a few materials and colors that I don’t design with very often. That’s good exercise for any designer!

How many of those Pinterest projects have you made? #2

I love to add images I find online to Pinterest boards to function as virtual idea boards for inspiration when I’m stuck. Every once in awhile it’s fun to see if I’ve actually used the ideas. Sometimes I believe I have consciously tried out another person’s idea while trying to put my own twist on it and at other times I’ve made a version of a design that is widely used and tends to pop up a lot. To give credit where it is due, here is my second roundup of jewelry designs I’ve found online and my own versions of them.

Amulet pouches

I’ve been collecting materials and instructions for making amulet pouches since the early 1990s before I actually got around to making one last fall so I can’t really say I was influenced by one particular design. The simple pattern I made for this¬†little bag is original with me. I was inspired by looking at a few other pouches though. Occasionally I keep something sentimental or spiritual in it like a religious medal or one of my Mom’s rings, but normally I use it to carry a FitBit (which still works but fell of the wristband) or a USB drive. I have made several more of these bags with and without fringe and with different fabrics and embellishments.

Original designer: Cynthia Whitehawk
Link to this pin on Pinterest

Using a button as a connector between necklace and pendant

I have a pretty large stash of buttons and am always looking for ways to use them in projects. Using buttons as connectors from a pendant to a necklace creates a nice transition.

Original designer: Unknown
Link to this pin on Pinterest

Necklaces with donuts of glass and stone

I sewed some lace to pieces of metallic wired ribbon to make the strap and added a dangle with a trade bead to my version of a necklace using a stone donut.

Original designer: Unknown
Link to this pin on Pinterest

Earrings with bar dangles

The two sets of earring dangles shown that lack their own earring findings were made to use as interchangeable dangles for hoop earrings. I make a lot of convertible jewelry items so I can mix up looks.¬† I have a LOT of jewelry because I’ve been making it since 1989, even so I still crave variety!

Original designer: Gorjana Reidel
Link to this pin on Pinterest

Necklace pendants made with chandelier prisms

I bought some smoky quartz colored chandelier dangles at an antique shop ages ago and finally used one of them for an in-your-face large pendant that is designed using half a toggle clasp closure at the top to function as a giant jump ring – I can put this pendant on various chains. It could also be a purse charm by adding a big clip to it.

Original designer: Unknown
Link to this pin on Pinterest

Earrings made with spacer bars

It appears as though someone has used bicycle chain links to form the sides of the popular bar dangle design. In my versions, I used gold-colored spacer bars and added a chain dangle underneath.

Original designer: Unknown
Link to this pin on Pinterest

Flat pendant with two dangles
I changed a lot of things in my version of this necklace – the way the pendant is connected, and the materials that the flat pendant and the attached embellishment are made of. My pendant is made of polymer clay impressed with a rubber stamp, and the embellishment is a glass blob backed with hand-stamped paper.

Original designer: Nimii Makwa
Link to this pin on Pinterest

To see more of these matchups, here is previous post of mine:
How many of those Pinterest projects have you made?

Do you have any matchups you want to show off? Feel free to share links to them in the comments section!