As I’ve said before, one of the things that I do with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint is making “vintage” signs. I’ve partnered with another friend of mine (and Marian’s), Donna, from Funky Junk Interiors, who has produced an awesome line of Old Sign Stencils and I use her stencils almost exclusively when I make my signs. I’ve shown you before at least one way to take a brand new piece of wood – straight from the lumber store – and make it into an authentically old looking sign, but my absolute favorite method is to use an actual VINTAGE piece of wood. Here is one that I sold just last week. I bought the wood piece at a yard sale sometime last year and I’m not even sure exactly what it was to begin with. Maybe a cutting board (but I don’t think so). Maybe…I don’t know. It was carefully pieced together and though the wood was unfinished, it had years of nicks, markings, old tape stains, and just the “grime” of time. I used parts and pieces of several stencils to make this design. It made a perfect sign! I hope the guy who bought it is enjoying having it as much as I enjoyed making it.

BAKERY front final

The reason I like using these old pieces of wood is that the signs are truly one of a kind. I know I won’t come across another one of those mysterious boards again! I love these next two signs for just that reason. I don’t expect that I’ll find more boards like these any time soon. They are actually shelves from one of those round front china cabinets – the ones with the bowed glass? They had been separated from their cabinet long before I got them.

texture on white final

RED GROCERY right FINAL resized

As you can see, the texture of the paint is much different on the two signs. Both shelves were exactly what you’d expect to find in an old, dark wood, china cabinet. They were dark, and pretty shiny with varnish, but also pretty “bumpy”…you know…’cause they’re old.
You can picture that, right?? I did NOT sand either shelf before painting.

My goal for the white sign was to see just how chippy it could be. I wanted it to look like a hand painted sign that had hung out in a “mom and pop” grocery for the last 50 years or so… I painted two coats of Ironstone directly onto the varnished surface. I then used my Old Sign Stencils to mark out the words with a black Chalk Ink Marker and went back and painted in the letters with MMSMP Typewriter.

Stencil on White final

**Note: this method of stenciling takes a lot longer – but it really gives the signs a “hand lettered” look as you can see the brushstrokes…

Then I stood back and watched the paint dry… (watching paint dry can actually be a lot of fun when you’re using Milk Paint!)

Chipping on White final

Chipping on White 2 final

I really did get what I was going for – the paint was very chippy! I just gently brushed away (with my hand) what was loose, and then applied Tough Coat over the rest. If I had gone at this with a putty knife (which I often do on my Milk Paint pieces) I could easily taken off ALL of the paint.

MIss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Makeover

I love this sign. So much. I’m keeping it.

For the red sign, I decided to see if I could control the chipping a little bit more. My goal was to use bonding agent in some select areas and not in others – but, frankly, it was looking weird…and I just went ahead and used bonding agent on the whole thing.

Blotchy red final

Blotchy red 2 final

So this one really began with a coat of Tricycle with Bonding Agent. I followed the same stenciling technique as before – this time using a white Chalk Ink Marker to mark out the letters – and did my hand lettering with Ironstone MMSMP (without Bonding Agent).

Stencil on red 2 final

Stencil on Red final

When I finished with the lettering I turned the hairdryer on it – on HIGH heat. The result was no chipping – but some great crackle effect – especially on the white lettering. I ended with a light coat of MMS Antiquing Wax to enhance the aging.



I love this sign too. But this one is for sale.

Both signs turned out great – and that was due not only to how I went about creating them but to the nature of the awesome pieces of wood I started out with. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting old pieces like this – you can sometimes get them for pennies!

kitchen FINAL

As usual – let me know if I can answer any questions for you about these techniques or any others you’d like to try. I’d love to hear form you!



  1. Jen Banker

    Beautiful! I love that green dresser! What did you use as a topcoat on the wood part? It’s got a great sheen!


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