If you’re grown up enough that you are able to take part in adult libations, happy hour is a time of celebration and fun! If you have a part of your house dedicated to this joyous occasion, or would like to, a lighted marquee is a great addition. You also don’t have to drink to have happy hours! This tutorial can be changed to any combination of words, quotes, etc. Note: this is a very drawn-out process, so I would suggest keeping it short and sweet unless you want to spend a huge chunk of your life on this!
-transparent paper (waxed paper works great)
-gold paint (I used this one, which worked perfectly!)
-letters (I used Avenir Next, but there are some similar ones you can use if you don’t have this font. Cocogoose is a cool one. For your convenience, there is a Download of print-ready letters)!
-3/8″ drill bit
-hot glue gun
Step One: Pick your phrase/word, then print and cut out letters. Our size is basically the letter fit to an 8.5″ x 11″ page. Make sure each letter prints the same size (or not; different-sized letters might be cool!). I had panels cut out to be approximately the size of each letter, making them easier to handle when cutting out.
Step Two: Trace each letter onto the wood. Take your time cutting each letter out; that way it’s safer, and your letters come out looking great.
Once they’re traced, take your ruler and measure in 5/8″ from all sides, marking as you go. Connect all the marks. I would use a mechanical pencil and make all of the measurements and marks as exact as you can. Any imperfections will translate into your cut.
EDIT: If you use the Cocogoose typeface, you may have to make the sides closer to 1/2″ so you have room for the bulbs in the middle. It depends on the size of bulbs you get.
Step Four: Glue tops to bottoms. When I was gluing each one, I put a heavy piece of wood and a full paint can on top of it. If you have a bunch of clamps, you can clamp them. (I should have actually done that. On a few of the letters there were gaps that I had to fill with putty. You can avoid that if you clamp the pieces super tight.) After all the pieces are dry, sand them all nice and smooth. Start with a more aggressive grit (80) and move on down to your fine grit (220 or even 320 if you’re feeling extra fancy).
Step Six: Install lights. Easier said than done. Start by measuring the middle of each letter and lightly marking with pencil. I eyeballed the distance between the bulbs; you may want to try to measure between each bulb, but they don’t have to be exact. Drill holes. Choose your bit size to match the bulb base size (depending on which bulbs you buy). After holes are drilled, glue three 1″ dowels to the back of each letter. Make sure you don’t cover any of the bulb holes, and leave room for wires and battery pack. The dowels not only offset the marquee off the wall, but they give room for the wires and battery pack.
Take all bulbs covers off and stick in holes. Flip letters over and put lights through. Make sure the bulb placement allows for space between letters. After you have all the bulbs installed, glue them in place. Glue battery packs in place.
Make sure the bulbs work one more time before gluing! If you have leftover bulbs in the strand, you can just glue them to the back, or like with the strands I bought, they were wired in such a way that if you cut some off, it still worked, which was awesome.
Step Seven: Put wire on each letter.
Step Eight: Pick your space and prep it for hanging. Using painter’s tape is a great way to lay out the bottom and center line. Use a level when putting up the tape. You can put up the letters to get a good visual of placement.
To get all the letters lined up, you can either use the paper cut-out or trace the inverted letters on transparent paper. Measure the space between the wire and the top edge of the letter, then measure on the wall.
Credits // Author: Josh Rhodes. Photos: Sarah Rhodes, Josh Rhodes, & Laura Gummerman. Photos Edited with Piper from the Signature Collection