Monday, November 24, 2014

DIY Lighted Holiday Marquee

Ok, so Home Depot once again was not clear on their advertising and they were VERY inconsistent from store to store. They advertised that the November "Do it Herself" workshop would involve a lighted holiday marquee, inspired by Ana White. Also, there was a FULL PAGE ad in HGTV magazine bragging of gift bags sponsored by HGTV that all attendees would get to take home. 

 Some reported that their gift bag was an empty paper bag! My store gave us each a lovely poinsettia and some Home Depot swag. I heard horror stories from across the country: They didn't have it set up at one store. 

 One store charged a $35 materials fee. At my mom's store everybody made one out of styrofoam, but they had so many people show up they were panicked and my mom and her friend left to go shopping instead.

 I stayed for a little bit, but then had to go to my sons' concert. One was playing percussion and the other the french horn. However, I did hear murmurings of disappointment in the room that people weren't going to be able to make their own. I REALLY wanted one, so I thought about how it would be easier to make. 

Anything would be easier than trying to cut the letters out myself. Here it is: 

Materials List: 
~Pre-cut out wooden letters to spell out the word of your choice 
 ~These particular letters are $3.99 at Hobby Lobby, I purchased them for 50% off. Letters are also available at Walmart for $1.97 
 ~Paint in the colors of your choice. The red was $.50 and the iridescent white was $1.97 at Walmart 
~A set of lights. These gem lights are wired, and it is $9.97 for a set of 60 at Walmart. If you choose a shorter word, (such as JOY) a set of 30 should be sufficient. 
~Liquid Nails or another strong adhesive (wood glue will also work) 
~Glitter, if you want your home to sparkle like mine does 
~White glue if you wish to make snowflakes as accents 
~A piece of wood for the background: I used a 12X24X48 piece of pine which cost about $8. If you have plywood or other wood lying around anything the proper size will work.
 ~A drill with a 7/16 inch bit (if you use the gem lights) 

 Step One: Paint Apply paint to the letters and the background. Be sure to paint the edges of the letter. My letters were white when I bought them, and I put about 3 coats of the pearly white paint on them. I put only one coat of the red on the pine board.

 Step Two: Position your letters on the piece of wood, and glue them down. You must let the glue dry overnight in order for it to work 100%. The liquid nails does take awhile, as does regular wood glue.

 Step Three: Mark the spots where you would like to place your lights. On mine, I put the lights about 2.5" apart. This is going to depend on how large the lights you choose are. Smaller lights can be put closer together, and larger lights can be put farther apart ONLY if there is enough cord in between each light. 

 Step Four: Drill holes. Choose a drill bit that is LARGER than the base of the light (the part that is green) so that it can be pushed through from the back. However, your bit should be SMALLER than the top of the light (the bulb or if using LED lights, the part that is going to get put on from the front). In my case, the led lights slip through the back and the gem covers snap on through the front.

After drilling, suck up the debris with a vacuum and brush dust off of the letters so that you have a clean surface. If necessary,  you can lightly sand the area around the holes. I simply cleaned off the dust. My lights cover the edges of the holes.

Since there are chips around the edges of the holes, I re-painted the letters. Since I wanted to add some glitter, after painting each letter I sprinkled glitter on while the paint was still wet. I used ultra-fine diamond glitter. 

To thread the lights through, wait until everything is dry. If using the lights I used or similar lights, pull the plastic tops off (carefully so that you don't pull the whole light out like I did--that was a whole other nightmare). Starting at the top of one letter, push the light through the back, and PPP the plastic piece back on the front. I used a set of 60 even though I only needed 35 lights since some of the distances were longer than the light would allow. In those cases I just skipped a light and taped it down to the back of the board. Leave the plastic piece off. After you have finished filling each hole with a light, just tape the excess lights to the back of the board. I DID NOT put the gems back on them. 

There are many battery operated lights available, which I recommend--but the original set I bought didn't have enough lights. I also recommend buying lights that stay on even if one bulb is pulled out. Mine did not, and I spent FOREVER trying to fix one bulb that I messed up when I accidentally yanked it out with my brute strength.

I then used glue to draw different snowflake designs using plain old white school glue. After you draw the design, cover it with glitter and let it dry.

Use screw-in eyes and wire to hang the marquee.

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