Thursday, October 1, 2015

Transferring Text onto Objects

On many of my past blog entries I've used a carbon-copy method for transferring text onto wood, foam, plastics - pretty much any surface.  On this particular day I wanted to make a sign for my workshop and thought I'd share my process.

Many people have other ways of doing the same thing.  Some use stencils that they either buy or make.  Some people use adhesive vinyl.  Some just paint freehand.  My method involves printing, charcoal and paint.  But to start I need something to put letters on.  I cut a few pieces of scrap plywood and made a little frame.

I glued these together and clamped them until dry.

You can buy wood boards with frames like this in arts & crafts stores like Michael's and Hobby Lobby.  When the glue dried I used some wood filler to fill in some gaps.

While the filler dried I designed what text I wanted on the computer.  I used Adobe Illustrator, but you can do something like this easily in Word.

The frame is a little longer than one sheet of paper, so I printed it on 2 pieces of paper, and trimmed them to fit the frame.  The 2 pieces are held together with ordinary tape.

Once the frame was dry and sanded, I applied some furniture stain.

After the stain dried I took my sheets of paper and flipped it over.  I then used charcoal to fill in the letters that were on the other side.  I like to use charcoal because it transfers very easily.  but if you don't have charcoal you can always put on many layers with a pencil.

Then I flipped the paper over again and taped the edges to the frame.  The tape will keep the paper from moving around.

I then used a color pencil to trace the letters.  I traced rather hard, ensuring that the charcoal will transfer nicely to the wood.  I like using a color pencil, especially with complex designs because I can see where I've traced already.  I also tend to trace rather hard, so I never sharpen my color pencils too much - with the pressure I put on it a sharpened pencil will break easily and often.

When I finished tracing I removed the paper.  Now my letters are quite easy to see.

I then used a paint marker to fill in the letters.  I personally like gold and silver paint markers since then can be applied to almost any surface, but you can also use regular paints and a brush.

Recently I've also been into using rubber stamps for my projects.

I particularly enjoy using stamps with flourishes.  Below I have a corner flourish stamp and a small silver ink pad.

I stamped the 4 corners to give the sign a little extra.

Now that the lettering is done, I brought the frame to my workshop and applied some glossy clear coat.  I prefer clear coat to polyurethane when I have lettering on my projects - brushing on polyurethane can sometimes smear your letters.

When the clear coat was dry I drilled 2 holes in the back and attached some D-rings and wire.

I nailed a hook into the wall and hung up my new sign!

It's not an overly large sign, but I like it.

I've used this method for many signs, mostly holiday stuff.


I also used this method for borders and flourishes.

On the Christmas sled below I used that method for the lettering and for the 3 penguins.

I've made an anniversary plaque for my in-laws.  The flourishes all around were definitely difficult and time consuming.

And I used this method on other objects and materials.  The tombstone below is made of insulation foam...

...and these pumpkins are rounded, but the same method works for text...

...and graphics.

And recently I used this method to label a box designated for some of my safety equipment.

So there you have it!  My carbon-copy method for transferring text and graphics.

I now finally have a proper sign for my workshop!  Yay!
Thanks for reading!

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