Well, you guessed it! I decided to make it myself. There were many factors in that decision. Here is the process it took: First I planned to have the sign made by the Quilt Square Girls in North Carolina. They make barn quilts and it appears they do a wonderful job of it. I called to talk with them. I learned that there would be a 16 week wait after I designed it and ordered it. Also, after she learned I was from Ohio, she had to be honest to tell me that the shipping of a 4 foot square sign to Ohio would probably cost as much as the charge for the sign itself. Second, my husband said the magic words that talked me into it, “It will mean a lot more if you make it.” Also, I had learned so much about the process by talking to the Quilt Square Girls and looking at their pictures during production, I felt like I had a plan. Mike was willing to help me buy and cut the signboard and prime it for me. What more could I ask? I got busy. So here is what I did…
First, I needed to choose a pattern and the colors to be used. I looked at the countless quilt sites online to find what quilt blocks I would enjoy seeing out of my kitchen window every day. After narrowing it down, I got out my graph paper to draw them and color different color options. I quickly learned that it takes a long time to color various colors, so again, looked online and found Quiltivate. It is a great site with many quilt block patterns. After you find your block pattern (I used Friendship Star Variation), you can design it with random colors they provide, just by clicking in the space you want to place it. I played with this site quite a bit. After I found a combination I liked, I chose to “create a quilt” with it. I chose to make mine one square high and one square wide. I then put the widest border I could choose to make it look the most like my sign. There is an option to email your design to yourself, but I just took a screenshot of it and pasted it in a Word document and printed it.
So I found the pattern I wanted to use, then the colors were next. One question was, “How many colors?” I found that adding a large number of colors didn’t seem to make the quilt more appealing to me. This made it simpler. Also I didn’t only want the colors to be pleasing to my eye, but I learned that tonal value was very important to give it depth and accentuate the pattern. I printed out the quilt in black and white to get how it would look. I also went to the paint store to get chips to audition. I pulled the combination that I thought I liked, and then would take a picture of them with my cell phone, but selected black and white mode. (I had learned that tip on Fons and Porter recently.) That gave me the opportunity to know for sure that the tonal values varied in my selections. Sometimes you get a surprise with that black and white rendering.
For my materials, I got advice from experts. I purchased 1/2″ MDO board (signboard) in a 4’x8′ sheet. I researched online and realized Menard’s was the only place in my area advertising to carry it. Also, when I picked up the board, I checked in their paint department. This was the only place that I found that sold sample sizes of custom mixed exterior paint. I could buy a 7 oz. jar of paint mixed to match my chip for under 4 bucks each. At other stores, the smallest I could buy was a quart. We also bought aerosol cans of primer. It took 1-2 cans to cover it. I also got exterior Spar Varnish to seal the sign when completed.
I was very thankful for my husband’s willingness to cut and prime the board for me right away, so my enthusiasm didn’t wane. Less than 8 days after we purchased the board, I painted my last color. But then I’m getting ahead of myself….
So after buying the board, I made my final decisions on the paint colors. I returned to Menards to get my paint mixed, and on the way home I thought it would be a good idea to make a one foot square prototype before starting on the final product. It would be easy to learn if the paint played well this way and it would be better to make a color change before painting the large version.. I found a piece of Masonite out of my dad’s scraps stash and Mike cut me a one foot square. This gave me a 1:4 ratio prototype (1/16th the size of the final product). I painted it all with my new paint as planned. Mike and I looked at it and both thought I needed to replace the darkest periwinkle blue with an even darker shade. I decided to put it on the barn with magnets first to see for sure. After putting it on that red barn the colors popped, so we changed our minds. I stayed with the original plan.
Stay tuned as the saga continues…