Have you ever had a picture that you immediately know is one for the wall? You start to look through your phone, camera or proofs from a session, and you fall on one picture. Everyone is smiling, the color is just right, or it captures exactly what you were feeling in that moment.
A couple of months ago we headed north an hour to have our family pictures taken by the very talented Amber Walder (Click here for her website). There was one picture that I was immediately obsessed with. It wasn't the traditional family picture. It just so happened that my husband ran late to the session (a horse decided that he just had to get sick) which made our session run late. On our way back to the car, Amber remarked that the sunset was beautiful. Last minute she had us run up to the top of the hill and took some pictures. I love how our daughter is kicking right at the place the sun is going down. Perfect for her personality. The picture was posted that night as a sneak peek, and immediately it was "the" picture. I had to get it printed.
I wanted the picture to be the big. Really big. Like big enough to grab everyone's attention. I also wanted the picture to fit in with our rustic farmhouse decor. It was time for some old wood. But the problem was, I loved the picture so much that I didn't want to wait to track down some barn wood. So, I decided to make some.
Picture by Amber Walder Photography
DIY Barn Wood Sign
Poster Print (I got ours in a 30x20 size, with a coupon I found! Shutterfly offers great deals when it comes to prints. It's all I use for printing pictures.)
Wood (I love the pre cut pine boards at Lowe’s. They fit nice and easy in my car) I got 7 of the 4x4 Boards for $8.00
Stain (I used the dark walnut stain we had left over from our countertops. I added two little stain pots in Weathered Grey & Driftwood. Love the color.)
Rags (To help apply stain)
Hammer, chains, etc. (For distressing)
Jigsaw (I cut my boards so they looked more even and centered with the print)
Foam Board (Perfect fit. It was 30 x 20 like my print)
Mod Podge Glue
Nails (We had four large-head ones in our garage left over from another project)
Kreg Jig or 2x2's
Kreg Jig Screws (Coarse, since the wood was soft pine)
Paste Wax (Optional- to protect the wood)
1. Adhere Picture to Foam Board
The first thing I did was use Mod Podge to adhere the poster print to the piece of foam board. It was super easy to add the poster print. Mod Podge a section of the foam board and then place the print over the Mod Podge. Work slowly and in small sections since the Mod Podge will dry quickly. I did have a few bubbles pop up after a few days (annoying) but they are only noticeable when you look at the picture at a certain angle. You could put the print right on the board, but I wanted it to stand up a bit from the back. Foam board adds an extra pop to the print.
2. Cut the Boards to Size
Next, I put all the boards up against one another and decided what width I wanted my boards to be. Once I had my foam board centered, I marked a straight line with a pencil. If you're scared of saws (like me), jigsaws are a good place to start. They are light and easy to manage. I have a new miter saw, but I can't get back to the work bench to set it up. (Island cabinets are blocking it!) Also keep in mind that Lowes will cut boards for you if you don't have a saw at home.
This was the fun part! My daughter even got out her own hammer (a real tool set was a gift from Santa) and joined in. I used both sides of a hammer, a scraper, and wrench. There's no perfect way to do this. I found I liked the look of hammer the edges to dent them a bit. I also took the edge of the scraper and carved in some fun little messages like it was a tree.
Seems simple, but it's a learning process. I took the three stains I had and got a rag for each. I then used all three and started staining boards. I blended the colors so the board looked like it had a weathered look. I tried to make sure there was no sharp color changes. The driftwood color was a good color to buffer the harshness of the grey and dark walnut so everything blended well together. You may need to walk away from it and come back and do some more staining. That's what I ended up doing and was happy I took a fresh look at it a few hours later. Another helpful hint is to always keep an eye out after holidays for plastic tablecloths. Pick up the tablecloths with the fabric backing. They are perfect drop cloths. This one was a steal at $0.10.
4. Connect the Boards
This is where you can use a really fun tool called Kreg Jig to connect the boards. The Kreg Jig creates pocket holes to connect two boards. If you don't have one (or don't have a father-in-law that does like me), then you can easily connect the boards with 2 long stripes of 2x2's and connect with screws. I used coarse screws since the cheap pine is soft and a fine screw would strip out. Seems simple, but you will want to make sure you don't keep screwing once the screw is completely in. That's another way to strip out the hole. Last thing I want is a board falling and hitting someone in the head!
5. Finishing Touches.
Now that you have one big board, there's some small finishing touches. You will need to add some picture wire on the back of the board so you can hang it. Next, you will nail the picture to your board. We found some nails with larger heads so they were also decorative. The last touch, if you'd like, is to add some wax to the exposed wood. The wax protects the wood and adds a little bit of sheen to the wood. You could also poly the wood prior to adding the picture if you want a high gloss finish.
7. Hang Up Your Frame!
The final product is ready! I'm really happy with both our picture and the frame. I can't wait to hang it over our stairs so it's the first thing you see when you walk into our new home!
Photography by Amber Walder Photography