Nerd Home Improvement

We are unabashed movie fanatics here at Casa De La Loma. (Click here for the story of how we named our home.) 

We spend our summer nights entertaining quite a lot here and having friends over to enjoy our Darby Outdoor Movie Theater. (We have our own Instagram hashtag for this: #DarbySummerMovies, but that's not important right now. Also, I'm martadarby on Instagram if you want to follow my own personal "relajo.")

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, too, gathering and curating ideas for menus, party foods, home decor and things that interest me. (I'm Marta Verdes Darby on Pinterest if you'd like to follow.) 

It was there that I found the cutest, nerdiest thing ever. It was a collection of directional signs with über-nerdy destinations. I was instantly inspired and shared it with the rest of the family, who immediately had their own opinions of what our signs would need to look like. 

My Big Fat cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

Jonathan had strong opinions of what fandoms should be represented as we made our list of favorites. They would each have to be meaningful to us. Eric was in charge of procuring the wood and cutting it to our specifications. By "our," I mean me and Lucy. We're the designers around here and (being strong nerdy Cuban women) knew exactly what we wanted for our signage. 

The entire process went pretty quickly once we made the original decisions. We would include a nod to each of our favorites.

  • Asgard - Home of Thor, Loki, and Odin. 
  • Mos Eisley - from Star Wars; Episode IV: A New Hope (The original and best.) "Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of sum and villainy." ~Obi-wan Kenobi.
  • The Shire - Home to Hobbits. My personal obsession with Hobbit-lore is long and storied. 
  • Nov. 12. 1955 - Back to the Future. This one is a little more obscure unless you know your movie trivia. This was the date that lightning struck the Hill Valley clock tower. 
  • Narnia - as in "The Chronicles of _____." I particularly like this typeface because it has the lion's tale moving from the R to dot the i, because Aslan. 
  • 221b Baker St. - Home of our favorite detective duo: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
  • Hogwarts - Because Harry Potter. Full disclosure: I cry every time Dobby dies. I know. Shut up.
  • Camelot - 2 reasons: 1) I recently introduced my kids to Camelot, the musical with Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, and Franco Nero. They laughed and sighed and cried just as I did when I first saw it in 1967. The Alan Jay Lerner book can still hold its own. 2) Monty Python. Of course.

We had others that didn't make the cut because of space and time. (<--see what I did there?) But we were excited and inspired and the whole project came together pretty quickly with all hands working diligently to make it happen.

Eric went down to Lowe's and got a 4"x4" redwood fence post, had it cut down to 8 feet and bought a 4 inch cap. For the signs themselves, he bought some pre-cut fence pickets. We had shapes in mind for each one, so some he just cut in half or trimmed to square them off. 

He installed the post just like you would install a fence, with a metal base. I think he must have Googled "how to install a fence post" because he made it look quite effortless. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

With the base securely in place, we turned our attention to making the signs themselves. While I'm pretty good at freehand lettering, we thought it would be cool to have each one follow the theme of what it was supposed to represent. 

Lucy went online and found where we could procure fonts for each of the titles we wanted on our signs. 

She found most all the fonts on DaFont.com. Here's the list if you're interested.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

She then sent the information to my Silhouette Portrait to create our custom stencils according to exact specifications to fit on each 4 inch tall picket. She created the stencils using regular card stock.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

[An aside: I love my Silhouette for so many reasons. And I know I haven't even plumbed the depths of the magic that it can create. Here's how I used it to create truly magical word banners at Christmas, but that's not important right now, either.]

I sprayed the back of each stencil lightly with Krylon Easy Tack Repositionable Adhesive. It keeps the stencil in place, but peels off easily after you've painted. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

I used black acrylic craft paint and a small, flat stencil brush to fill in the letters. I used an up-and-down motion like you do for stenciling. If you brush, there's the possibility you could get under the stencil and smear the paint.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

I didn't really wait for the paint to dry before peeling off the stencil. I swear we all made audible "whoa" sounds every time I would reveal the latest sign. From there we set them in the sun to dry. 

Our delight was so great that we kept walking over and admiring our work and high-fiving each other on how great it was all turning out. I know. But, c'mon! Aren't these so awesome?

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign
My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

The next step was sealing the signs. We opted for quick and easy here, spraying quick drying varnish on each one. It sealed the sign and added a nice color and finish, while keeping the rustic look I was going for.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

We finished cutting, stenciling, spraying and sealing each sign and then waited for them to dry before staging them into their final positions. I should mention here that I had already sketched out which way I wanted the arrows pointing and which went where before we even started production. Also, the burnt looking effect on the edges of the Mos Eisley sign I just did with the same black paint. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign
My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

I marked where each should be secured and mounted on the redwood post and Eric drilled screws into those spots. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign
My Big Fat Cuban Family - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

He and Jon mounted each finished sign on the post. I positioned each one as it pleased my eye, that is, not measuring in between them - this makes my husband kind of crazy, but then, he appreciates that he married an artsy Cuban and he just follows my direction when it comes to stuff like this. (He was pleased with the outcome.)

Finally, we stood back and admired our creation. Please appreciate that Asgard is pointing up because space. Thankyouverymuch.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Step by step - DIY instructions to make your own nerdy destinations sign

I don't know what makes me happier, the finished sign itself, or the fact that my family was already on board right when I said, "Hey, guys! I have an idea..." 

I love my big, fat, über-nerdy Cuban family.