Pieced Pastimes: Favorite Places Subway Art Tutorial

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Favorite Places Subway Art Tutorial

I have been seeing a lot of 'Subway Art Tutorials' on different blogs such as 'Tatertots and Jello' and 'Lil Blue Boo'. I decided that I needed to make one for our home. For my theme, I used the names of some of our favorite places here in New Hampshire. The nice thing about this project is that is can be personalized to fit you.

My tutorial is similar to others that I have seen, but with some additional steps that I thought may help someone.

The supply list for this project is:

- Plywood cut to size (Mine is 20" x 30", but you can adjust this to a size that works for your list of words.)
- White Spray Paint
- Black Spray Paint
- Contact Paper
- Glue Stick
- 150 Grit Sandpaper
- Dark Stain (I used Minwax Dark Walnut)

Let's Begin!

Using your favorite word program, print out 2 sets of your selection of words in varying fonts and sizes (I used Arial, Arial Narrow and Arial Black) . 'Set 1' will be used for placement guides and 'Set 2' will be used for the contact paper.

Layout 'Set 1' of the printed words in an arrangement and size that you like.

Take 'Set 2' of the printed words and glue the back of them with a glue stick. Adhere them to the non-paper side of contact paper.

Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut each letter from your 'Set 2'.

Store the 'Set 2' cutout contact paper words in marked ziploc bags to keep them separated.

Cut your plywood to fit your particular layout of words. Be sure to leave space for a border. Give the plywood a light sanding (I wanted a vintage look to my sign, so I intentionally kept the nail holes and dings on the plywood) . Follow this with a coat of white spray paint and allow to dry overnight.

Arrange your 'Set 1' of printed words on the painted plywood to use as a reference for placement.
Draw light pencil lines for each line of text as placement guides.

Using your 'Set 2' of cutout contact paper letters, remove the glued paper and the paper backing from the contact paper and carefully stick the individual letters on the painted board.

Using your finger, press around each letter again to be sure that you have good contact with the painted surface.
Spray the board with Black Spray Paint, covering the entire front and sides. Allow to dry for a few hours.

Remove the contact paper letters carefully to reveal the white background. I found that serger tweezers worked out great for this.

Your board should now look like this with all the letters revealed.

I wanted my sign to look vintage. To achieve this, give the board a gentle hand sanding with some '150 Grit' sandpaper.

Next, give the entire board a coat of 'Minwax Dark Walnut' stain and using a clean paper towel, quickly wipe until you have your desired amount of aging.

This is my finished 'New/Old Subway Art'. It reminds me of some of the vintage signs I've seen along the hiking trails in New Hampshire. It is so nice to have such a personalized item in your home. I hope you have as much fun making yours as I had making mine.

Until next time ~ Suzanne.

Linked to: Tatertots & Jello and Someday Crafts and The DIY Showoff and Today's Creative Blog Print Friendly and PDF


  1. How very, very clever of you! I would never have thought of this way to make a sign!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Oh thank you Suzanne! I really like this project!
    Yours came out very nice.


  3. GREAT tutorial! I love the stain you used. What a wonderful idea! It is beautiful!


  4. Your sign turned out so cute! I love your theme, too! Thank you for sharing it! :)

  5. Suzanne...I love your subway sign tutorial...thanks for sharing...this is one that I feel I can do and be happy with!

  6. What a fun project Suzanne.Don't know how I missed this on your blog until now! TFS.

  7. How wonderful! I love how you can personalize this for your family. Very neat idea, thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks so much for linking up to my party!! You did a wonderful job!!


  9. I love your version of Subway Art! I tried to use contact paper to make one, but the paint bleed under the edges of the letters. I used regular paint, not spray paint so I think that may have been my problem. Thanks for sharing your technique!

    1. I did the same thing with regular paint and a small roller. It's now a matter of touching up each letter and staining. My hubs always teases me for spray painting every project I work on! Won't forsake good ol spray paint again, though!

  10. I would be thrilled to create special steet / destination signs for anyone. I'm having such fun doing just that! Check out my affordable custom signs at


  11. Oh my goodness thank you for sharing such a wonderful project! I LOVED so much the picture of you during the staining process with a ziplock baggie on your hand!! xox LOL! OHHhh that IS SO ME!! I love knowing that I am not alone when it comes to that!! You made my whole day!

    The mantel looks beautiful too! You have been busy Suzanne! Such a wonderful way to welcome in Fall!

    With love,

  12. I've seen several tutorials around for subway art but most require the use of a cricut or some similar machine. Of which i dont own. So I really love your version and it looks GREAT! Cant wait to try it out

  13. H!

    Wanted you to know I posted a link to this tutorial today on my blog, PaperFriendly.

    Nancy Ward

  14. It is very nice! Thanks for sharing. Great tutorial. I bookmarked this for later. We travel so much I'd love to make this.


  15. thats the best tutorial i've seen for these, so easy i'm going to do it next week. thanks heaps!

  16. GREAT tutorial! I've been wanting to do this & now I can. Yay!! :) Thanks!

  17. I've pinned TONS of different ways to make your own wood signs, but this is (for me) the easiest, and uses regular items I can pick up at Lowe's. You also used the colors I want. Thanks for posting this!

  18. When I put the stain on mine, the black bled all over the white letters when I wiped it with the paper towel. Do you have an idea why this may have happened? Do you think I did not give the paint enough time to set? I waited about three hours. Thanks so much.

  19. Thank you SO much for taking the time to provide this tutorial. I used your technique for a smaller sign, but decided to purchase the vinyl letters for my subway art. Let me just say that your way is cheaper and turns out better. Less bleeding. Thanks a million!

  20. Holy cow! I just came across this on google looking for subway art ideas. You must be near where my family! I know every one of those places. We're military about to retire in Central Texas, but we're going home in a few weeks to see my family in Center Ossipee! For my birthday a couple of weeks ago my husband framed a relief map of that very area of New Hampshire. I love being able to trace my finger along the mountain top where my grandfather lives and the valleys where all my aunts, uncles and cousins are. I love it!

  21. Love this! thanks!

  22. Has anyone tried running the contact paper through an inkjet printer? Just wondering if that might work too.. Thanks for the great tutorial.. I have had a sign in mind and have been looking for a good way to make it, I think your tutorial fits the bill!

  23. I am confused as to what to do here:

    Take 'Set 2' of the printed words and glue the back of them with a glue stick. Adhere them to the non-paper side of contact paper.

    Do i glue the letters to the top of the contact? or what do i do? someone please help me :)

    1. Yes, you glue the letters to the top of the contact paper (the non-sticky side).

  24. Great tutorial! You make it sound doable. I just might give this a try.

  25. I can't wait to try this - thanks for posting!!

  26. Thanks for posting a tutorial. A question about the type of contact paper you used - is it repositional or permanent?


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