finding inspiration

November really brings a battle between Christmas enthusiasts and those standing-up for Thanksgiving from a decorating/shopping standpoint, doesn’t it?  I mean who doesn’t love Thanksgiving?  No one wants to skip the feast.  However, some are overlooking the cornucopia for the twinkling Christmas lights immediately after Halloween.  I’ve always been a fan of keeping autumn harvest decor fresh, until the day after Thanksgiving when it is game-on for Christmas decorating.

As I’ve ventured further into the retail world I can understand why Christmas comes immediately following Halloween.  It is a very glitzy, very short selling season.  A lot of effort goes into merchandising for the holidays yet the season is definitely shorter than autumn harvest.  Perhaps that is why we’re seeing it grow just a little more every year, annoying as it may be to poor Thanksgiving.  With that said, I may even be behind the eight ball in getting all of my holiday inventory on the sales floor.  Yes, I surely am.

For me, November is all about balance.  Autumn harvest at home with Christmas on the brain and in the store.  While looking for inspiration for the season, I found some of my favorite holiday themed signs that I’ve painted over the past four years.  Here are the highlights…

Santa on a barn door is definitely a favorite which I’ve replicated again and again.

rustic santa barn door

Holly Jolly Christmas is indeed available now at The West End Garage.

holly joll christmas sign

Believe is always a crowd pleaser.

handpainted believe sign on reclaimed wood

The deer is a favorite from last year and it ended up in the home of a family member.  I may just have to make another one for 2015!

oh deer

Probably not my favorite work but any reference to classic Bedford Falls is a winner!

wonderful life sign

I love the juxtaposition of the message and the rustic canvas here.

rustic joy to the world

Moose Lodge is another one that I’ve done a few times.  Not necessarily reserved for Christmas either.

moose lodge

How’d this one sneak in here?

Painted Signs on Reclaimed Wood - maryland crabs

And the original “On the Way to Cape May” sign!  This one started it all.

Cape May Sign

Well, we’re most certainly off of the Christmas track now and perhaps back on harvest.  The sunflower seed packet resides at my parents.  I didn’t have the heart to sell it.  It’s possibly my all time favorite.

vintage sunflower seed pack reproduction sign

I’ve got a thing for fonts and vintage inspired signs which led me to start a pinterest board dedicated to other handmade holiday inspired signage.  Check it out here.

Where do you stand on the whole Thanksgiving/Christmas decorating debate?


One of my all time favorite Christmas movies has got to be “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  It’s not even specifically a Christmas movie, is it?  What a great life lesson George Bailey learns.

We recently watched the movie and a brief documentary about the making of it as well.  Would you believe that it wasn’t initially the hit that it is today?   I was surprised by that.

wonderful life sign

At any rate, I was inspired to paint some Wonderful Life signs.  With an oak cut out and some milk paint, I came up with this…

wonderful life sign painted with miss mustard seed's milk paint by circa dee

The base coat is a wash of lucketts green allowing the oak grain to come through.  It looks more green in person.  The lettering is painted in typewriter and tricycle.  I used furniture wax and a hint of antiquing wax in the top coat.

wonderful life sign milk paint

 I am still working on decking the halls here.  We’re planning to trim the tree this evening…perhaps we’ll watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again.  It never gets old!  What is your favorite holiday classic to watch this time of year?

This sign will be up for grabs at West End Garage this weekend.

where’d we leave off

Oh right about here.  The beach and the lobster.

Lobster Collage

We harvested this great big weathered board from the beach.  It is almost the same size as me!  Not so much width, but height-wise.

weathered DIY Lobster sign

Once sun bleached and dried out, I chalked on Lobster lettering and a shadow.  Then I filled in with red and white paint.  The red was a custom mix I had left over from the fall sunflower seed sign.  The white is Old White chalk paint by Annie Sloan.

weathered DIY Lobster sign

There were gray paint remnants from its former life which played perfectly into creating the distressed look I was going for.

vintage demijohn

Once the paint dried, I took a palm sander over the lettering to complete the aging process.  I finished up with some clear wax and a bit of ebony stain in some places all in the name of creating an authentically aged look.

The funny thing is that I am constantly trying reverse the aging process on my face yet I continue to force the aging process in my work.  Just an observation.  Hmm.

vintage coastal lantern and minnow bait bucket

Anywho, I wrapped up with a little coastal mantelscaping to coordinate with the new-old Lobster sign.  Everything pictured here is for sale at West End Garage.  A bit summery, isn’t it?  Oh well.  I think I’m ready for sunny, warm days.

weathered DIY Lobster sign and vintage coastal mantel

I also put together a vintage inspired Eggs sign for one’s kitchen.  This is miniscule compared to the mammoth Lobster.  Ryan likes to read “My our Fresh Eggs” but I hope you see otherwise.  “Try our Fresh Eggs”.

eggs sign painted on old cutting board

I used a little old cutting board for the canvas.  I love how the side of the board is trimmed in faded red paint.  After the paint dried, I also clear waxed and wiped on quite a bit of ebony stain particularly near the edges and also to highlight the old cuts in the board.

eggs sign painted on old cutting board

I’m having a moment with cutting boards.  I think I’d like to start a collection.  (Yes another collection.)  Primarily old bread boards in that sweet paddle shape.  Yeah, I need some of those in my life.

What projects are you working on these days?