Making a Rustic Star

For a period of time, I was making framed wood signs, sometimes words, symbols, and even paintings. One of the most popular was the rustic star. I haven’t made anything like these in about five years, but still sometimes get questions about them, so I wanted to share the steps in how to make them if anyone wants to try it out.

Materials required:

  • Rustic frame – I buy these from Hobby Lobby, and always aim to buy them when they are 50% off
  • Minwax water based wood stain – Crimson – get the smallest container you can from Home Depot or Lowe’s
  • Wood glue – I use Gorilla and probably didn’t use clear, but if i had to do it again, I would
  • Wood slats for flooring or paneling
  • Carbon trace paper
  • Gray & White paint
  • Modeling paste
  • Screws
  • Maybe a few other things…

Start by taking your wood and creating a ‘canvas’. Measure your wood to fit within the frames you have purchased and cut them accordingly. You may have to take one of your planks and cut lengthwise to fit entirely within the frame. I found that I always had to cut at least one plank. If you see in the picture below, the screw is right about in the middle of one of the planks. The planks I used were very light wood and fairly thin. I used the even side for the front, the back side had the grooves that you see below.


Once you’ve got your planks ready, and know they are right sized for your frame, glue them together. Put the glue in the grooves, then add a plank and keep going until your canvas is complete. Don’t use so much glue that any squeezes through. Since the boards are thin, I suggest gluing them together, then putting something heavy on them so they lay flat.

Once dry, use your stain on the front of your canvas. Apply as you would any wood stain by wiping on and off, not leaving any excess. For distressing, you can sand off spot sections once it’s dry, or apply heavier in some areas. You can see in the pictures that I did sand off some areas.

You’re now ready for the star. I created a stencil by printing out a star shape. If the star is too big, I would tape the pieces of paper together once printed. I liked a lot of space around the star, so I would make sure the width of the canvas is close twice the width of the star. The frames are not square, so there will be more space on the height.

Once you have the star, determine the best location for the star on your canvas by finding the center point of the star, and matching that to the center of your canvas. Tape the top of your paper to the canvas. Place the graph paper under it (dark black side down), and trace the outline of the star on your paper. Depending on the size, you may have to move the paper around underneath the paper as you go. Once complete, you will have a traced star on top of your red stained wood.

Mix some modeling paste with gray paint in the center of the star and use either a palette knife, or even a plastic knife to spread within the lines of the star. The idea is to provide some texture and raise the star on the canvas. It doesn’t have to be exact, but you want to keep the edges of your star straight, so stay close to the lines for a sharper star. If you don’t have modeling paste, you can try with some spackle, but that dries a lot faster, and is a lot chippier.


Once the gray paint is dry, paint the entire star white. At this point, you shouldn’t see any of the carbon outline on the canvas. When that is dry, use an electric sander, or some sandpaper and sand the star. In the above picture, you can see the gray peaking through the white, this is because of the sanding.

When you’re done with the sanding, take your canvas and put it in your frame. Screw the canvas to the frame at an angle in multiple places on the back. At this point you’re done, sign it if you want :). Additional pictures below.

Craft Show Display Stands

I recently did two shows in Memphis. And I researched how to display my art for weeks. I looked everywhere for the best type of displays to use. I ended up finding this one on Pinterest:

Speed Bump: DIY: Freestanding Display For Craft Shows

I didn’t want the pegboard, so I made my own version of it, and this is what it ended up looking like:


I used 4x1s and 1x1s, one right next to each other. My first version of this was to use just the 1x1s but I didn’t like how that looked, too much of what was behind the stands was coming through.

I bought the crates from Michaels and used them for transporting my art as well as display items. for the larger paintings, I used d-hooks on the back and then hung them with s-hooks onto the wood display. The s hooks I used were like these:shooks

The end result looked like this. I will look for different hooks next time since the s-hooks made the paintings hang oddly on the wood. I had originally thought I would hang the paintings from string attached to the tops of the wood but I didn’t like how it looked. The s-hooks allowed me to reconfigure and move things around throughout the day which I needed to do.

display (2)



Making a Textured Painting

I didn’t want to call this a How To since there are so many ways I have already learned to use texture with my paintings.  This one is a little bit new, and it’s an adaptation of something I read somewhere, someone else’s how to.

I started this one with an 8×10 canvas.  Applied a coat of gesso, using my new favorite palette knife, a long flat one.  After letting the gesso dry, I used modeling paste and applied a couple of patterns to the canvas.


This one had to dry overnight.  Seemed like the modeling paste needed loads more time to dry compared to other textures.  I picked orange and gray as my main colors, so I painted my first layer as gray, covering the stenciled areas as well as the sides and all surfaces.  Then I painted a layer of a combination of raw sienna and yellow oxide which made an dark yellow/orange color.  I used my palette knife for this color which meant that the crevices on the stenciled areas did not always get any of this color.


The next layer I used was a crackling solution.  It is meant for latex paint, but I figured I would give it a try, and it seemed to work out.  I left this one to dry for about two hours, and it looked super shiny, but after two hours or so, it was not wet.


Applying the coat on top of the crackle is the hard part.  You have to do this in one move or it will mess the crackling effect up.  I mixed my gray paint, making sure I had enough of it, then used my palette knife to spread it over the entire surface.  I made sure to not go back over any of it, and applied it as thick as it came out.  I let this sit overnight before doing anything else with it.


At this point, I considered my canvas nearly perfect.  The next step was to apply an image on top of the background I had created.  I chose a fleur de lis. I used a stencil (you can buy plastic and make your own or buy pre-made stencils), put it in the spot I wanted, then applied modeling paste making sure to only get the paste in the open area of the stencil.  I didn’t mix any paint in with the modeling paste, but if i had to do it over again, I would have.  Once the modeling paste dried (let it dry overnight), I painted it with a smaller palette knife and applied different thicknesses to it.  Once that dried, I sprayed a coat of glossy varnish and let it dry.

The finished product (which I love):


This painting is currently listed for sale in my etsy shop (Acrylic Paintings):

How to Make a Burlap Sign

One of my biggest sellers previously was burlap signs and letters. I don’t make them any more, but that’s all part of the evolution. 🙂

Here’s how I make them (revised):

Making the burlap part:

  1. Start by printing out what you word or letter you want in font you want it in. Note that when you create something in MS Word, you can change the font beyond the options that are available. Like you can manually type in 200 as the font even if it’s not in the list.
  2. Once printed, if it’s really large, you may have to tape the pages together. Note that you can’t go too big with the fonts or you end up with a puzzle in the end and it could be unusable.
  3. Trace the outline of your word or letter with a Sharpie marker.
  4. Iron a piece of burlap that will cover the outline you have created and cut it if necessary so there is plenty of room around your word or letter. Leave some room so you can trim it if needed. Note that if you cut too close to the letter or word, you won’t have any room for error.
  5. Place the outlined paper underneath your ironed burlap.
  6. Trace the outlined word or letter (that you can see through the burlap) with your Sharpie marker. Once complete, you should end up with an outlined word or letter on your burlap.
  7. Leave the paper underneath the burlap and paint inside the outlines using black  acrylic paint. Cover the outlines. Move the painted burlap to a cardboard box or some other surface after painting, but before it’s completely dry, otherwise it will stick to the burlap and you’ll have paper bits on the bottom.
  8.  Set aside.

Preparing the wood:

  1. Using the measurement you’ve determined, cut your wood.  You can buy wood at Home Depot or Lowe’s and ask them to cut it for you if you already know what size you want.
  2. Sand the wood to remove all jagged edges left from cutting.  I use an electric disk sander and usually spend the most time sanding the ends.
  3. Paint the sanded wood with regular paint using the color of your choice.  I typically use two coats of paint.
  4. Sand the painted wood to distress it.  I sand some areas down to the wood to give it a distressed look.
  5. Seal your wood with varnish.  I use a spray varnish.  I know its cheating a bit, but it is easier to clean up for me.

Putting it all together:

  1. Place your burlap on top of your finished wood.  Center your word on the wood and trim around the edges.
  2. If a fringed look is desired, pull some of the threads off of the burlap.
  3. Spray the back of the burlap with spray glue.  Don’t use too much, just enough so that it sticks to the wood.  For smaller signs, this step may not be required, but I eventually started doing this for every size.  On bigger signs, the burlap starts to sag a bit away from the wood.
  4. Using upholstery nails, nail the burlap to the wood.  If you make a mistake in placing the nail, use a knife or something else to pull it back up and re-position it.  Make sure to pull the burlap evenly when placing the nails to avoid any buckling of the burlap.
  5. Once nails are in, use a spray varnish to seal the paint to the burlap and the burlap to the wood.
  6. Nail in a sawtooth hanger to ready your sign for hanging and you’re done!


Read on only if you want to see how much I learned over time…

This is my old method (I stopped using it somewhere along the way as the cutting was just a pain in the butt):

  • Start with paper, pen and a stencil.  I like to use letters that are about 3 1/2 inches tall.  The size of the letter matters as it dictates the size of the wood required.
  • Draw a line on the paper with a pen.
  • Stencil your letters using the line as a guide.  Remember to evenly space the letters.
  • Use an exacto knife to cut out the letters.  I have a cutting board that I use beneath the paper.
  • Measure the template you have created to determine the size of wood required.  I like to leave at least one inch on either side, maybe two.  If my template is 12 inches, I will use a 14 – 16 inch piece of wood.
  • Cut out a piece of burlap that will leave an inch all the way around your word or words.  If my template is 12 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches tall, my piece of burlap will be 14 inches by 5 1/2 inches.
  • Iron the burlap.
  • Take the template and place it on top of the burlap and paint over it.  I use acrylic paint, I couldn’t get the spray paint to work without it leaking onto the rest of the burlap.  Don’t put too much paint on at once as it may leak around your template.  I put just enough to show me where the letters are.
  • Take the template off and touch all of the letters up.  If you have painted just enough, for the outline, you’ll need go over each letter.
  • Set aside