Turn Your Favorite Saying into Word Art (Good Handwriting Not Required)

January  6, 2017

Framed art is expensive. Especially when it measures larger than 4" x 6". Finding the right piece is half the battle, and then there's choosing a proper matte, the right frame... oy! It all adds up.

Inspired by typography art that's recently flooded the market, this DIY costs under $35 to make and can be completed within an hour. Blick Art Materials carries the best array of simple-yet-sturdy wood frames, and adhesive vinyl letters eliminate the need for glue or tape (read: a total mess all over your kitchen table...).

Sometimes we need to hear it three times. Photo by James Ransom

The beauty of this project is that you can choose whatever saying you wish (perhaps your family has a mantra worth immortalizing, or you love a piece like this as much as I do and want to replicate it!). Mix and match sans serif (that's any font without little "feet" on it) or script letters, and the result is a beautiful, simple framed piece in the span of an afternoon.

Here's what you'll need:

Photo by James Ransom

And how to turn it into a piece of art:

1. Lay the paper on a flat, clean surface.

Really clean: You don't want little flecks of foreign objects trapped inside the glass once you go to frame your art.

2. If your paper is larger than the frame you've chosen, trim it to fit.

I recommend using a ruler (or T-square) and a pencil to measure the new edges, and then scissors (or an X-ACTO knife on a cutting mat) to trim it down.

3. Map out where the words you'll be using should go, using a pencil and straight edge.

The piece shown here is three lines/words in total, so I drew three parallel, horizontal lines with 4 1/2 inches between them (using the middle of the paper as the center line) and at a 2-inch indentation from the left edge of the page.

Bump your letters in from the edge a few more inches if your frame covers part of the paper. Photo by James Ransom

Alter this spacing depending on how close or spread out you'd like your leathers, how many lines of text you have, and how big your frame is. And draw the lines as lightly as possible—heavy enough so you can see them, but you'll need to erase them as the last step.

4. Carefully peel off vinyl letters and begin adhering them to the page.

You'll want to a) work off of an iPhone with the saying typed out, or refer to the saying on a printed piece of paper nearby and b) keep stepping back to be sure your letters are even. You want the base of each letter to sit directly on top of the pencil lines.

Be sure your pencil lines are erasable! Photo by James Ransom

Note that you can always un-peel a letter quickly if it looks a little wobbly and reset it. Add letters until the saying is complete.

5. Using a good eraser, erase all pencil lines on the page.

Shake the work out or blow on it to be sure there are no eraser shavings present.

6. Frame it!

Make sure your page fits snugly inside the frame, place backing on frame and then hanging it up!

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What else do you use vinyl letters for? Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien


Smaug January 6, 2017
My mother always used to keep us supplied with "Be Nice" signs- of infinite creativity, but then she was an artist. It obviously didn't work very well, but it's the thought that counts, right?
Posie (. January 6, 2017
This is so cool! I'm wanting to figure out how to frame a poem as art, any advice for the best way to do that since it would be a LOT of individual letters to work with so stickers isn't the right route?