July 23, 2019 | 67° F

DIY: Make a marquee sign for your room


Strips of poster board are glued to foam to make the sign three-dimensional. 

We’ve all seen those twinkling lights outlining the ceilings of dorm rooms on Pinterest. If you’re trying to be a bit more creative, this marquee sign is great way to include those lights. It’s just enough lighting for hosting a mini movie night or trying to disguise a nightlight. Choose your favorite word or pick a keyword from your favorite quote, you’ll be proud of your own creation and add unique decor to your room.

Things you’ll need:

  • Foam poster board
  • Poster board
  • Pencil
  • X-Acto knife
  • Scissors
  • String lights
  • Hot glue gun
  • Ruler
  • Spray paint
  • Electrical tape

Getting started:

  1. Using the foam board, trace the letters you need. Focus on drawing straight lines, measuring enough room and spelling correctly (there is no spell check, so it really is a DIY). To ensure straight lines, you can use a stencil. For a cheap alternative, you can print letters out, which is what I did.
  2. Carefully cut the foam board out with your X-Acto knife — be aware of anything underneath. You don’t want your mom to see you’ve cut her favorite tablecloth.
  3. Mark where you want to place a light with a pencil. The string lights I used had 70 bulbs connected to one, so I tried to space those out across the entire word. If you need more, you can connect a second batch of lights. You’ll punch holes in these marks later.
  4. Take the regular poster board and cut strips to make the sides of your letters. I measured about 3 inches for the width. Don’t worry about the length — just cut it as long as your poster board. You can always cut it shorter or add more later.
  5. Take a strip of poster board and run it along each side of the letter. Put a crease and fold at each corner — this will save you some frustration when you’re gluing.
  6. With the heated hot glue gun, put together each strip to the foam letter to make it three-dimensional. You want to place the foam letter in the middle of the poster side, so it can stand up.
  7. With my X-Acto knife, I poked “X’s” where I marked a hole for the light. This made it easier for me to enlarge the hole with scissors. For a neater look, you can use an unsharpened pencil because it makes a good-sized hole and you don’t have to worry about poking yourself.
  8. After laying down a tarp or newspaper, spray your letters. I’d suggest going outside for this because you’ll need to leave the letters out to dry. A well-ventilated area is also advised, so you don’t inhale fumes. Letting the letters dry will take little time. To be safe, give it about an hour.
  9. Once the paint is dry, take your string lights and insert a bulb into each hole. Once they are all full, reattach the string and secure them in place with electrical tape.

This article originally appeared in print on September 11, 2014.

Jill Herb

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