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Two of my friends are getting married this month, and I was racking my brain to think of what to get them for their wedding shower. I had picked up a few things off their registry, but I like to add a little something special to shower gifts, something more personalized. I’ve done personalized mugs, chalkboards and even aprons for some foodie friends; I needed something different.

Rustic and industrial décor have made a big splash in the interior design scene. After looking through my friends’ registry, I could see they were moving in that direction – a lot of bronze and copper, industrial light fixtures, neutral-colored fabrics, mason jars. So I thought an industrial-looking, giant marquee letter would be a great gift!

I hurried to the Internet to find a marquee letter, but I didn’t realize marquee letters are so expensive! Seriously, I found letters ranging anywhere from $75 to $300! Of course the size that I wanted was in the more expensive range, so I decided to just make one myself!

I did some research and found out there are actually several ways to make marquee letters. The options range from metal to paper mache, and they’re not that difficult to make! Want to make your own oversized marquee letter? Follow the instructions below, and you’ll have one in no time (well maybe a little time – about an hour and a half).






You’ll need

  • A large paper mache letter (you can find them at a craft store or on Amazon)
  • A box of globe string lights (I found mine at Target)
  • Sandpaper
  • A knife or box cutter
  • Spray paint
    • Black
    • Copper
    • Hammered

Step 1: Cut Your Letter






You want to cut off the top layer of your letter so it only has three sides – a back and two sides. Don’t worry! It’s not difficult, and you’re not actually cutting too much.

Make a small incision in the side of your letter, about 2 or 3 inches.

Now you can begin lightly pulling up on the piece of the board that you cut away. It should start to peel off of the letter with ease.

You can use your knife to cut into the edges if it gets hard to peel. Once the top part is removed, you can just lift that zigzag cardboard piece right out so you’re left with a three-sided letter.

Step 2: Sand Your Letter

step 2







Once you’ve cut the top away and removed the zigzag cardboard, the edges will be a little rough. Gently sand them down with your sandpaper. You want to be able to run your finger down the side without getting pricked with a chunk of paper mache.

Step 3: Paint Your Letter

Step 3








I grabbed some newspaper and laid that under my letter because I didn’t have anywhere to hang it and didn’t want the outline of a giant V on my lawn. If you have somewhere to hang it or prop it while you’re painting, feel free to do that.

I wanted an old industrial feel to my marquee letter, so I used three different kinds of spray paint – but you can use whatever color you’d like.

Paper mache absorbs the paint pretty quickly, so I used the black as a primer, since I wanted a dark base coat.

Next, I layered my letter with a flat, metallic copper. The matte finish adds to the rustic feel, but the metallic keeps with the industrial theme.

Finally, I coated my letter with a hammered spray paint. This really adds to the worn metal look.

Step 4: Measure and Mark for Lights

step 4





I’m just going to be honest: This is the least fun part of the whole project – it’s math.

First, measure the width of each section of your letter and draw a straight line down your letter on the back

Decide how many bulbs you want to fit on your letter, then measure out space accordingly and mark it on the back of the letter.

(As you can see from this picture, I didn’t spray the entire back.)

Step 5: Cut Holes for the Bulbs

Step 5

Now you’re going to take your knife and cut an X in the spots you marked for bulbs. To widen the openings, stick a marker through the cuts. Insert the marker in the front of the letter and push through to the back. A Sharpie marker worked for me because it was roughly the same size as the screws on the light bulbs.

Step 6: Insert the Bulbs

Step 6




Next, you’re going to unscrew all of the bulbs from their sockets. Once they’re free, push them through the opening you made so the bulb screw sticks out the back.

Now you’re just going to screw the bulbs back into their sockets. If the wires stick out, just loop them around the sockets and tape to secure.

Final Product

final product




And that’s it!  Now you have a cool, trendy, industrial marquee letter!

Pretty simple right?

Want to know how to make any other trendy home décor pieces instead of buying them? Let us know in the comment section!


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