Creatively inspired by Ben Franklin Crafts in New Albany
By JD Dotson
How many times have I begged the universe to give me a sign? Whether I have a difficult decision to make, a project to finish, or I’m just feeling down, I will look around for that sign to help decide or guide or give a bit of hope.
Some days the signs present themselves in unique ways, like an unexpected phone call or taking a wrong turn that leads to something wonderful. Other days, they present themselves as actual signs that I am fortunate enough to pull my head up in time to see.
Two of my favorites stick out: The first was on a trip to New Orleans on a side street and regular path to the French Quarter, but on this particular day someone had placed a giant “LIVE A GREAT STORY” sticker on a heavily graffitied corner. That lucky encounter has spawned a mantra in my life. The second is near my house and something I had driven by for who knows how long and never noticed. Feeling down and out, I was walking to work due to car problems and most likely an empty bank account when I looked up to see “NEVER GIVE UP” painted on the side of the highway. It was the sign I needed to see at that moment.
This issue’s project is a collection of signs to inspire someone special to me. My hope is that they will inspire or comfort her when she is feeling lost. For you, however, the possibilities are endless, but let’s start with what you want to say and your list of supplies, which are available at Ben Franklin Crafts New Albany, the wonderful shop located across from the giant Kroger.
• Your sign surface (whether a premade sign, slats of wood, or found materials such as yardsticks or paint stirrers)
• 1” wide wood slats for the back
• Wood Glue
• Stencils or Letter Stickers
• Acrylic Paint/Wood Stain/Spray Paint
• Hanging hardware/Jute string
• Staple Gun
• Optional: Wood Burning Kit
Materials provided by Ben Franklin Crafts & Frame Shop420 New Albany Plaza | New Albanybenfranklinartsandframing.com
Prepare your surface. I found some great premade signs at Ben Franklin that were only in need of a stain or undercoat of paint. If you are building your base from slats or found material, arrange the pieces with the facing surface down. I prefer the uneven edges on mine and then glue the 1” wide slats to the back and clamp until dry.
Figure out what you are going to say. Then, how are you going to get your message to the surface? There are several ways to go about it. You can use stencils to draw the letters and then paint inside the lines. You can use the letter stickers as a mask and paint outside the lines or spray paint the whole surface, then peel the letters off. If you have time, patience and a wood burning kit with letter attachments, you can burn each letter into the wood one at a time or even hand letter your saying.
Hang it. There are many ways to hang your signs: sawtooth hangers that can be hammered into the back of the piece, picture hanging kits with wire or a long piece of jute stapled to each side of the back.
Finally, hang it and prepare yourself for inspiration. Sometimes, we all need little reminders that there is good all around, that people care for us, that we all matter, that the answers we seek are waiting to be discovered. Hang them where you will see them every day. Hang them so someone in need of a sign will come across it. Attach it to a pole and march that inspiration down the street. Some people will say, “Look at that crazy person carrying that sign” but there will be some that think “I needed to see that today.”