I’ve always had a love of fonts. I have a collection of magazine pages torn out for their interesting fonts. I have books about fonts, bookmarks on my computer for font-dedicated websites, not to mention the hundreds of fonts I’ve downloaded. I want to be surrounded by gorgeously shaped letters. What better reason to make a vintage-inspired marquee letter? It brings light to those who don’t appreciate it for its lovely shape alone, and reminds us all of a time when beautiful lettering was done exclusively by hand. It’s like an ode to the E. —
CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!
- printed letter
- 3/16 foam core board
- X-Acto knife
- cutting mat
- a nickel
- string of c7 LED lights
- white mat board (should be white on both sides and have a white core)
- hot glue
- white glue or tacky glue
1. Choose a font that you like for your letter. It should be bold. Enlarge it as big as you can while still fitting on one piece of printer paper. You can print it in gray so you don’t use a lot of ink.
2. Have the letter enlarged at a copy store. You can do it on a copy machine, or they can do it for you. The finished letter should be about 21 inches. If you are doing multiple letters, just make sure they are the same height.
3. Use a couple of pieces of tape to secure the enlarged letter to the sheet of foam core. Using the X-Acto knife and the cutting mat, follow the lines to cut the letter out of the foam core, using the ruler to help with straight lines. Try to keep the blade of the knife as perpendicular to the cutting mat as you can (this helps the side pieces go on smoothly).
4. Use the ruler to help mark the spots for your lights. Start at the points where the lights will intersect (such as where the leg of the E meets the back of the E). Space the lights as evenly as you can, keeping them about 2 inches apart. Just make sure you have enough bulbs on the string of lights for the number of holes in the letter.
5. With the X-Acto knife, cut out about a half-inch hole for each light and enlarge it by using a marker or wide pen. Use a nickel to press down the top layer of foam core and round out the hole to take the shape of the base of the light bulb.
6. If you are using regular bulbs, hold the socket to the back and screw the light bulb into the socket from the front. There must be a big enough opening for the bulb or it won’t screw in properly. If you are using LED bulbs, pull off the outer shell and snap it back on after inserting the LED light into the hole.
7. Insert the bulbs around the entire letter, tucking the cord as you go. End the plug of your cord in a convenient place to plug in your letter.
8. With the X-Acto knife, ruler and cutting mat, cut several long strips of the white mat board 3 inches wide.
9. Place the letter face down on a flat surface. All of the lights should be touching the flat surface. The light bulbs act as spacers, allowing the side panels to be applied uniformly.
10. Cut a strip of mat board to fit each side of the letter. Measure carefully and consider where the pieces will join and whether you will need an eighth of an inch extra to overlap at a corner to form a clean seam.
11. For the curved areas of letters, gently bend the mat board to take the curve of the letter you are working with and press the mat board against the edge of the letter to measure for the length needed.
12. To glue the side panels on, put a small bead of hot glue on the side of the foam core. With the edge of the 3-inch strip of mat board on the flat surface, press it against the edge of the foam core creating a 90-degree angle — remember, the bulbs act as spacers to get the panels on uniformly.
13. Work around the letter, applying the edging panels to all sides.
14. If you’d like, you can cut a small hole for the cord to pop through, but otherwise, you are done!