You can make your own carnival midway-style illuminated letters #Decor DIY#circus#decor#tutorial November 23 2011 | Guest post by Jessica Charlton These are awesome midway lights. Wanna make something sort of like this for yourself? Then read on! Photo by włodi, used under Creative Commons license. Who knows where my love of midway illuminated lettering comes from, but it's definitely fed by my addiction to Disneyland. More specifically, the part of the park called "Main Street, USA," which consists of gift shops and ice cream parlors dressed up to look like an early 20th Century bustling downtown street on speed. Too shiny not to love. But I digress… Typically an illuminated letter like this is made of metal, is very heavy, and would cost you a pretty penny. I knew I wanted something to light up at my wedding, so I figured I'd make my own midway letters. You can too! And there are power tools involved! What you will need: 3D cardboard letter (any size, but bigger means brighter; mine were purchased at my local US chain fabric/craft superstore) utility (aka "Xacto") knife permanent marker ruler electric drill fitted with a 3/8" bit masking tape drop cloth spray paint string lights hot glue gun First, grab your utility knife and cut the top off each letter, leaving the inside of the cardboard letter exposed. Next use your permanent marker to draw clear dots where you intend to drill holes, keeping a safe distance from each other and the sides of the 3D cardboard letter. Midway letters feature lightbulbs which are equidistant from each other, so use a ruler if you don't trust yourself to get everything perfectly by eyeballing it. If your letters feature serifs, remember to add more holes to the wider parts of the serifs; a good font is worth recognizing, even in the dark. Now grab your drill and make 3/8"-1/2" openings over the dots your just drew. The cardboard will look pretty chewed up, but don't sand it down; these rough parts will help later on. Related Post How to DIY your own vinyl record bowl After reading other people's tutorials on making vinyl record bowls and realizing how stinkin' easy it was we had to go for it! We're vinyl... Read more The trauma of ripping off its ceiling and then punching dozens of holes in it can potentially ravage the structural integrity of a 3D cardboard letter. Now is the time to reinforce weak spots with masking tape. You can also cut pieces from the top you cut off and hot glue them to weak, flat parts of the letters. Take your letters to a well-ventialted place, lay down your drop cloth and spray them the color of your choice. I chose a more customary carnival red, but offbeat brides often have daring color schemes, so don't feel shy — bust out those neon greens and electric blues! Let each coat dry completely for a few hours before applying the next. Leave the back unpainted. Allow a full day for the letters to dry before the next step. Flip your letter over to the back side, grab your glue gun and squeeze a ring of hot glue around the rim of each drilled hole. Get really close to the edge, because immediately after you'll need to make contact with that glue as you stick a light bulb through that hole. Pay attention to your light strand as it might twist and turn while you apply your bulbs. Try your best to maintain order behind these letters. Got extra light bulbs hanging around, unused in your letters? Well you can let them hang out, all lit up and cool-looking, or you can twist the unused bulbs to break contact with the electrical impulse and avoid illumination. If you do the twisty version, you'd be smart to keep the tiny pack of backup bulbs (included in every new package of string lights) within reach. Photo by Anthony Carbajal The cool thing here is they can transition from wedding decoration to home decoration so easily, so find a corner or shelf you'd like to display them on and enjoy your work before and after your wedding day. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Jessica Charlton Jessica Charlton's weapon of choice has always been an embroidery needle; her work has been featured on mrxstitch.com and feelingstitchy.com. She produces and teaches crafts of many kinds, and notably taught two years in a row at maximumfun.org's delightful comedy podcasting sleepaway camp, MaxFunCon. Never able to focus too long on just one inspiration, Offbeat Bride allows her to work on diverse projects, and for that she is grateful. http://offbeatbride.ning.com/profile/ieatglitter PREVIOUS Why do couples borrow cultural elements for their wedding, and how can you do so respectfully? NEXT Allison & Richard's warm fall wedding on Black Friday Show/Hide comments [ 5 ] i really love this idea! it's so colorful and fun! Reply Those are really epic looking! Reply I LOVE this! I have this odd obsession with Carnival things (carnivalalia?) as well. Reply This just made me 100% more excited about making wedding decor! So smart and I never would have thought of that! Reply Do you think it would be possible to do this without a drill? Reply Leave a Reply to Jessica_Iowa Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Sign me up for your offbeat awesomeness newsletter! No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy. Biz owners & wedding bloggers Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.