Make Your Own Mini Marquee Letter

Vintage marquee letters are definitely on trend right now, but they can also be hard to find and very expensive. With battery-powered lights, foam core, and some spray paint, you can make your own mini version in an afternoon.

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This project demonstrates how to make a letter "L," but you can apply the same techniques to any shape or letter.

Measure and Mark Foam Core Shape

Materials Needed:

  • 12"x12" piece white foam core
  • 3 2"x 10" strips white cardstock
  • pencil
  • craft knife
  • self-healing cutting mat
  • clear tape
  • tacky glue
  • 24" quilter's ruler
  • 1 30-light strand batter-powered string lights
  • drill
  • drill bit matching the diameter of string lights
  • blue spray paint
  • drop cloth
  • electrical tape

Use the quilting ruler and pencil to make a vertical line 4" from one edge of the foam core. Turn the foam core a quarter turn and make another line 4" from the adjacent side of the foam core. When finished, the shape should look like a capital letter "L."

Using the craft knife on a self-healing cutting mat, cut along the pencil lines and create a letter "L" by removing one corner of the foam core.

Mark Light Locations on Foam Core

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Count the number of lights on your light strand. (We used a 30-light strand.) Mark on your foam core letter where each light will be placed. Tip: To create the traditional marquee letter effect, plot lights into straight, evenly-spaced lines.

Drill Light Holes in Foam Core

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Put the foam core letter on top of a scrap piece of foam core. Drill through the letter on the mark for the first light. Continue with remaining marks for lights.

Make Sides for Marquee Letter

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Get out one 2"x10" strip of cardstock. Before it’s glued onto the foam core, we need to mark where each edge of the letter will be, so the cardstock can be folded before it’s glued. Line up the cardstock strip with the top of the letter. Mark on the cardstock where the edge will be.

Turn the cardstock strip to line up with the next edge of the letter. Keep the first mark lined up with the first edge. Mark on the cardstock where the side will make the next turn.

Keep turning the cardstock and marking the edges. It will take a few strips of cardstock to go all the way around the letter. Use the quilting ruler and the back of the exacto knife to score the cardstock strip along the marks. Crease the cardstock strip along scoring lines.

Repeat the marking, scoring and folding process with additional strips of cardstock until you have enough to go all the way around the letter.

Assemble Letter

Place glue on one edge of the foam core. Stick the first cardstock strip onto the foam core. Press into place and secure along the bottom with clear tape.

Overlap the first cardstock strip with the second. Attach remaining strips to the letter, overlapping the end of the final strip with the start of the first strip. Glue together and secure with tape. Let dry, then carefully peel off clear tape.

Spray Paint Letter

On a drop cloth in a well-ventilated area, spray paint the front, sides and inside of the letter. Add a second coat of spray paint until the letter is evenly covered. Let dry.

Add String Lights

Start with the light bulb closest to the battery compartment and stick it through the hole closest to the bottom-edge of the letter. Continue, pushing one light through each hole, until all holes are filled. Using electrical tape, attach battery back to the back of the letter. Tip: The back of the letter will look a little crazy, but don't worry — it won’t be visible.

Display and Enjoy

Display the finished project on a shelf or table full of fun accessories. This whimsical piece is perfect for a child’s room or nursery.

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