I teach out of a home-based studio.  It’s in the very first room in my shotgun style first floor home, and sometimes, just often enough to be annoying, my lessons are interrupted by door-to-door fundraisers, salespeople, people campaigning, and deliveries from my local postal carriers.  So I finally decided to dust of my DIY skills to make a sign to politely deter such would-be interruptions.  I was so proud of the result that I posted it to instagram and only after that did it occur to me to make a tutorial!

Before we begin, you’ll obviously want to see what it looks like…voila!


And now, for the tutorial.

Total Project Hours Estimate:  1 hour active

Here’s a list of supplies you’ll need:

1.  An unfinished piece of wood, like this plaque I found on Amazon (all links are affiliate links…girl’s gotta make a living….¯\_(ツ)_/¯):

Obviously, I rotated mine sideways.

2.  Surface prep such as matte medium – not entirely sure it is necessary but I used it, so if you want to be sure yours comes out like mine did, I suggest using it.  If you know more about painting wooden surfaces than me and realize it’s unnecessary, please comment below and let us know!

3.  White acrylic paint such as Liquitex Basic Acrylic Paint.

4.  Music-print tissue paper or old sheet music – for a background.  I used old sheet music I’d acquired from an estate sale, and you can probably print some vintage looking sheet music online.  (You could also use this tissue paper if you don’t like those other options.

5.  Plastic lettering stencils in your choice of font.  I went the “classy” route with calligraphy script because I figured it might make people think it was a more polite “GO AWAY” sign than it actually is.  You could use a stencil such as this one if you want to go that route, or pick any old font that makes your heart sing!  (Helvetica is also classy, in case you were wondering and haven’t seen that documentary).  

6.  A simple pencil.  (I figure you already have those).

7.  Paint or paint pen/marker – I used a black paint pen, for ease with stencils.

8.  The DIY classic Modge Podge

9.  Twine, rope, wire, or other sturdy string of your choosing – for hanging.

10. Masking tape.


  1. Prep surface of wood with matte medium and allow to dry.
  2. Once surface dries, design your template for the sign.  Measure how large the letters will be and what space they will require on the sign surface.  I recommend using a sheet of paper and the stencil and trying out a few different ways to phrase the sign and/or how you want to space and arrange the words.  Once you know how much of your sign’s surface area that will take up you can then, decide how much of the leftover space you’d like to cover with music.
  3. Very carefully layout sheet music over plaque and align it exactly as you want it to be as final product.  Use an exacto knife to cut any complicated edges or just cut a little too big and fold any edges over.
  4. Apply mod podge to plaque with a sponge brush.  Immediately place your sheet music on plaque as you intend it to ultimately be.  Be careful to smooth out any wrinkles.
  5. Allow to dry.
  6. Cover edges of sheet music that you don’t want painted with masking tape.  Then paint non-covered surfaces with acrylic paint.  Depending upon your desired effect, this may require multiple coats.  Allow time to dry.   Here’s what mine looked like at this stage:

[ED. note:  Wordpress would not let me continue numbering, so I apologize that step 7 is now labelled one).

  1. Step 7. Take your pencil and lightly stencil in your words as you planned to arrange them on the plaque.  If you are satisfied with how they are centered and otherwise look, go back with the stencil and the paint marker and fill in the letters.  You can paint over any mistakes with white paint, but it will be a pain in the butt, so try to avoid.
  2. Step 8. Once everything is dry, you’ll want to probably coat the music parts again in mod podge and/or matte medium.  You may also want to finish it off with a light gloss or varnish.  Allow this to dry.
  3. Step 9. Last, but not least, attach your twine or other method of hanging.  Full disclosure, my plaque came pre-twined, so I didn’t have to worry about whether my method would support the sign’s weight.  So, make sure you really use strong glue and lots of twine to be sure it will hold.
  4. Step 10. Hang out your sign (and don’t forget to take down when you aren’t teaching!)

Of course, this could be applied for any business that is home-based or service-oriented. But I’m guessing you might want to replace the sheet music with something more apropros to your particular niche . . .

Anyway, thanks for reading.  Let me know if you try it out and share how your version turns out!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.