DIY: Marquee Letters

Updated: Apr 12, 2015 17:58
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SFGate just had a second article featuring photos of local theatres from years past, mostly closed and abandoned – and that’s not the first feature I’ve seen covering the subject recently. There’s certainly something to be said for old school Hollywood glamour, and if you’ve ever wanted to put your hair in finger curls and see your name in lights, have I ever got a great craft for you: marquee letters. There are a few ways to go about DIYing this, but they all produce a pretty classy way to decorate – without shelling out 200 large.

For genuine, classic marquee style letters you’ll need poster board/cardboard, foam board, a cutting mat and x-acto and, of course, lights. Download the letters you need in a font you like, then trace and cut it out of the foam board. Use a ruler to mark where you’ll put the lights, evenly spacing them out and making sure your string of lights is long enough. Then cut out circles where the lights should go and poke ‘em through. Cut strips of posterboard/mat board/cardboard to complete the remainder of the letter and glue carefully with a glue gun.

If you’re not feeling the lights, you can always cut out your letters on sturdy foam board then cover them in fabric, or decoupage them, or wrap them in yarn, or lacquer them in coins. Or, of course, paint them. Metallics seems to work especially well here.

If none of those options appeal to you, and you’re lucky enough to have a styrofoam, wooden, or paper mache letter on hand, get your green thumb on and hot glue some fake moss to it.

If you’ve got some kind of insane dedication to authenticity – and a wall handy – you can actually grow moss in the shape of letters but since this involves blending a concoction to paint on a (shady) wall and then waiting, it’s for the more patient DIYers. If you’re not patient, that’s cool too (me either), just grab some craft wire and fake flowers and you can make a monogram wreath instead, just twist your craft wire into the shape of your letter then wrap the fake flowers around the wire.

If making a card board letter – or buying one – isn’t doing it for you either, you’re not out of luck. You can make letters out of almost anything like buttons, crayons, pounded bottle caps or cork.

And if you’ve got an abundance of letters, consider framing them against contrasting backgrounds!


Images courtesy,,,, and (again).

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Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

A freelance writer, blogger and poet based in San Francisco, Amber has written for PC World, InfoWorld, and the 16th & Mission Review. She has performed at City Hall, Litquake, the Brainwash, 16th & Mission, BlueSix, and SFSU among other places. Amber is also consummate fan of swearing, organizational freak, yoga practitioner, music geek, caffeine addict, and tattoo enthusiast who enjoys platform shoes, making out, thumb wrestling and fighting the good fight. She owns a bicycle named Gretel, a motor scooter named Elroy and a cat named Simon. She can be found in various virtual locations all over your interwebs.

1 Comment

  1. November 16, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I totally want to make a DIY marquee letter.