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JessLynnBabblin'

  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

143: How I Made A "Neon" Sign



Howdy! I've been meaning to make a sign for my booth for ages. I had to run to CVS this past week for an errand and figured I'd check out the craft aisle while there, aiming to purchase a resin kit. Well, that they didn't have, but their Art Skills: Make Your Own Neon Sign kit was on sale so I picked that up. My expectations were low, and the reviews I read online, mixed. Ultimately, I got it to work for me though.



The kit comes with a pink tube that functions as a light, a power source with an on/off button which takes double A batteries (not included), a plastic coated metal wire to help shape the sign, zip ties, and mounting clips with sticky backs. The kit does not come with anything to mount the sign onto. Essentially, the instructions are to design the sign, shape the metal wire into said design, attach the pink tube to the metal wire via the zip ties so that it matches the metal shape, then to latch the entire sign onto a backing material via the mounting clips. At the end, the instructions say to hide any excess wire/tubing, to attach the power source to the pink tube, to add batteries, and voila. That's close to, but not quite my process.


Once I decided to use the kit to recreate my logo, I went over my limited option and opted to mount the neon sign on a wood disc I already had. I made sure the light worked before getting started, by which I mean I popped double A batteries in, attached the power source to the pink tube, turned the light on and off, and unattached the tube to the power source.


Supplies I added to the project process include:

  • 2 double A batteries

  • tracing paper

  • pencil

  • eraser

  • charcoal pencil

  • wine cork

  • wood disc

  • hammer (you're way better off using a drill and screws but I'm cheap)

  • nails (you're way better off using a drill and screws)

  • thumbtacks (for wiggling around holes to widen them) (you're way better off using a drill and screws)

  • X-acto knife (for wiggling around hole to widen it) (you're way better off using a drill and screws)

  • twist ties (I hate working with zip ties)

  • watercolor paint

  • gold paint pen (wide, Sakura brand)

  • clear non-yellowing glossy acrylic spray varnish

  • painter's tape

  • 4 metal hooks

  • screws (for attaching metal hooks)

  • scissors (for cutting plastic coated metal wire)

  • brown paper (to cover the messy sign-back)


(Here's related videos for more visually oriented folks)

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Neon Sign Project Steps:

  • Step 1: I traced my logo off of my ipad using pencil on tracing paper.

  • Step 2: I bent the plastic coated metal wire into the shape of the logo. This later was revealed to be an unnecessary step, as the wire is not needed for the plastic tube to hold its shape nor for the light to function. However, I found it helpful for making certain the design was an adequate length for the tubing since the metal wire and plastic tube are the same length.

  • Step 3: I flipped the tracing paper over, traced the back over in charcoal, flipped the page again and transferred the charcoal outline onto the wood by rubbing a wine cork against the top of the tracing paper.

  • Step 4: I woodburned the logo into the wood, burning deeply so the light could sit in the niche. This produced enough smoke where it would've been smart to do it outside or somewhere with better ventilation than the closet I call a studio.

  • Step 5: I watercolored the wood to add some color to the sign.

  • Step 6: I used my wide gold paint pen, Sakura brand, to trace the outer edge of my logo, mostly to add clarity to the design for when its still bright enough out that the light isn't obvious.

  • Step 7: I considered where I needed to tie down the plastic tubing for the light to hold its shape and made two holes on either side of each of those points, making them wide enough that twist ties would fit through. The kit came with zip ties but they are less moldable and wider than twist ties so I find the latter easier to work with. I also made wide holes directly in the woodburned niche where I planned to pull the plastic tube through the wood, so on the right and left edges of the round logo design, and again in the tiny circle topping of the script "j." I didn't light the word "STUDIO" at the bottom, but if I had, there would be multiple such wide holes at the beginning and end of each letter. These holes had to be very wide, compared to the others, because there is a bobble at the end of the pink tube and it needs to be able to fit through.

    • I actually originally did this step before watercoloring, then had to re-do it afterwards as the moisture made the wood expand and fill in the holes, so they had to be remade.

    • I made these holes with a combination of a hammer, nail, thumbtacks, a pen cap, X-acto, etc, widening them with whatever was available. This would have gone much more quickly with a drill.

  • Step 8: I sprayed the front of the painted wood disc with clear non-yellowing glossy acrylic varnish. I did this outside because this isn't something anyone wants to inhale.

  • Step 9: Being careful to keep the plug part of the pink tube on the back of the wood, I slipped the tube through a hole in the woodburned niche of the logo and shaped it to the design, using twist ties to hold it down at every major bend. I bent the twist ties on the back to hold them in place.

  • Step 10: I flipped the sign over, and attached the power source to the pink wire.

  • Step 11: Using the mounting clips that came with the kit, I looped the excess tubing around the back so it wouldn't hang off. This I laid painter's tape over to keep it extra stable, in such a manner that I can easily access the tubing should I want to add lighting to the base of my sign at a later date.

  • Step 12: I attached four metal hooks to the back using screws, two up top, and one at the right hand side around mid-height, with the other at the left hand side, around mid-height. The goal was to use the top two to hang my sign with, and the bottom two, as a means for securing the power source with its on-off button so it wouldn't hang down from the sign.

  • Step 13: I traced the wood disc onto a piece of brown paper, then cut the paper to that shape. I attached the paper to the back of the sign via painter's tape, to cover the taped tubing, but I cut away the paper over the hooks to leave them easily accessible.

  • Step 14: I cut the plastic coasted metal wire that came with the kit, then looped it across the top two hooks, in such a way that I can loop it over thumb tacks in my wall, or as a means for securing it to my booth later (How? Likely also using wire, which I happen to have a lot of, and like re-using). The other wire piece I looped across the left-to-right hooks, which I then clipped the power source on/off switch to.


The project was more rewarding than fun, so I don't intend to do this again, other than to update and improve this sign. I probably will go back and light the lettering at the bottom eventually but I'm out of black twist ties so that won't be any time soon. I do wish the sign kit came in more colors. Purple would have been better for my purposes, and if I can find a purple version, it would be a quick matter of swapping the pink out.


Thanks for stopping by! I drop a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!



Newsletter

Howdy! I don't have a ton of updates right now. My big project this past week was the sign ordeal detailed above. I did make a new little watercolor and I have another drawn up that I hope to get to this week. Here is the painting and the mock up:




As for my resin projects, they mostly remained sticky and shouldn't be. Trouble shooting, I found online advice to use a strong solvent to remove the wet areas. With regards to the gem shaped paper weight, the wet area went all the way through. I tossed it. The pyramid and the cube seemed somewhat sturdier so I removed them from their molds. The pyramid has since melted, and needs to be thrown away, but the cube has mostly held its shape. As that's that one containing flower petals left over from mine & Danny's wedding a couple of years back, I'm relieved that one pulled through. There still remains the round paper weight, which needs a bit more liquid resin to fully fill it's mold. Though I'm not sure how solid it is. I may pull the mold apart today just to see how it fared. For science. Will I buy another resin kit? Maybe. It's not something I'm well suited for, obviously, but challenges aren't necessarily bad.


I did get some editing done on Soul Walker, though not nearly as much as I had planned.


I also finished reading Soulmates: A Metaphysical Love Story by Sarah Faeth Sanders. It was very wholesome, I found it to be fast paced. I read it in about 3 sittings. It focused a lot of overcoming religious trauma, and also forgiveness. I just started reading The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, last night, and so far so good. The content is very heavy in the first chapter, with regards to torture, violence, death. I still don't know what it's about, but apparently it was something of a world-wide phenomenon when it came out, which is enough of a selling point for me.


I haven't mentioned my garden in ages but it's doing well. I'm still working deduce which plants have sprouted, in some cases, but of those I recognize, there are radishes, pumpkin, arugula (I think), lots of wild onion, potatoes, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and cornflower coming up. I plan to harvest the onions and the radish this week. The wild onion has fun pearl-sized onion bulbs at the base and garlic pods up top. I'm going to plant half the garlic, since there is so much, and pickle the other half, along with all the onion bulbs, and the radish/es. My biggest parsley is flowering. I may take the opportunity to cut some and include it in the pickling. I'm going to have my husband double check that the arugula tastes right and if I've identified it correctly, I'll also pull that soon, in order to make some sort of arugula kimchi. I've found that the easiest ways for me to eat vegetables involve cutting them up and flavoring them, plus pickled, they don't expire so quickly.


Pulling up root vegetables will disturb the soil and leave big empty patches, so I've ordered Jerusalem artichoke bulbs to fill in some of those gaps, while the digging is easy. They won't arrive until early April though.


I intend to harvest as much as I can before mid-June. Here's hoping the potatoes have flowered by then! I'm also going to move the lofted tent that I sell art under, so it provides some shade to the garden, once that becomes necessary. I'm also always composting. My garden is lined with bricks, under which I have dug pits, where I still bury expired produce, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. Occasionally I lift the bricks, break up the compost if necessary, or spread it around the garden if it's broken down enough. The worms are very well fed here. And, as it gets warmer, I look forward to seeing frogs and snakes hiding down there, where water collects after I water the plants.


Thanks for stopping by! I drop a new newsletter every week!


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