As promised from the Wild Lounge Before & After reveal, here is the tutorial for DIY marquee lights.  I have never invited anyone else to provide content on Teal & Lime, but Lindsey did such a fabulous job with the write-up and pictures of her DIY project.  Hope you all have fun making marquee lights!  I am trying to decide what word to make for our basement.


Thanks so much for letting me share this with you and your readers!  When Jackie graciously created my kitchen mood board, she included a DIY project of marquee letters in the word “bar”.  As soon as I saw them I knew I had to make them! They were just perfect for the room and the vibe we were going for.  I liked the tutorial she provided, but I was really concerned about the wires showing and how to hide them..  I found this tutorial that involved no wires, but the ornament holders were out of stock everywhere I looked and there was no way I was waiting until next holiday season to do this project.

So, I made my own version.  I purchased 3 paper mache letters from Joann’s and spray painted them with Rust-Oleum’s Silver Hammered.  I am by no means a great spray painter, but that is the best thing about this stuff is that it hides everything.  The extra drips actually seemed to blend right into the paint and even made it look better.

Next, using an X-Acto knife, I removed the backing from the letters, making sure to leave enough room at the top and sides for it to be attached to the wall. The extra backing also helps to keep it strong. I then removed any extra cardboard contained in the letter.


Next, I marked the letter for placement of the lights. For this project, I purchased two boxes of outdoor globe lights from Target.  They were located in the patio section at my Target.  To begin, I eye-balled the letters with two lights to see how they looked and to get a sense of placement.  It is really a personal preference if you want more or less lights on the letter.  I determined the placement of the lights and then tried to draw a circle around one.  This was a total fail.  Any pen or pencil I tried would not make a mark and I didn’t want to use a permanent marker for fear that the line would be too big and would still show once the hole was cut.  I ended up taking one bulb off and drew the circle shape of the socket on a scrap sheet of paper.  I determined the diameter of the circle was 1.5 cm. Using my handy dandy ruler, I marked an 1.5 cm X at each spot for the bulb.  Once I had one side, I used it to determine the other side of the letter to make sure the bulbs were even.  In doing the A, I measured the length of the letter and made marks at equally spaced intervals.  From there, I marked the X at each spot.


Once all the letters were marked, I used my X-Acto knife again to cut a hole at each of the markings.  Now it was the exciting time of putting in the lights! I unscrewed the bulbs and put them into the holes.  Just make sure to push the bulbs in as far as possible. Before I started attaching the string wire, I decided where on the wall I wanted the letters.  This determines how the wire should be attached as the letters will be connected by the wire.  You need to make sure there is enough slack between the letters. Once I determined the placement I began screwing the sockets onto each bulb.  Because of the extra room in the wire between lights, I was able to space the letters out and still have room to be connected.  I pushed any extra wire down into the space in the letter.  I also used some duct tape to keep the wires in place once I was sure they were where I wanted them to be.


Using some sawtooth hangers I had from another project, I hot glued them to the back of the letters at the top.  You could use multiples of these if needed because of the weight of the lights.  I could also see using several command strips for hanging as well.


Time for light! Or maybe not.  When I first plugged it in, I was disappointed to find that many of the lights did not light up. After more screwing in, they all lit up!


Next, I hung my light art!  I was so excited that I did it on my own, but I really think that it is better to have someone help you. Juggling three letters with two hands was a bit complicated.  I may have lost a bulb in the hanging process.

We have had a few people over to our house who have been really impressed and surprised at what they are made of.  I think they look fabulous on or off, and they bring a great feel to the room.  I hope you too will make your own in whatever word makes you happy!

All photos in this post and tutorial courtesy of Lindsay Bray.



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4 Responses to DIY Marquee Lights

  1. Sarah says:

    Thanks for linking out to our Marquee letter post! Just an FYI if anyone is looking for the small ornament bulbs, they are available here:
    The BAR letters turned out great!

  2. Lisa says:

    Love that project! I want to make one!

  3. Fabulous! At Christmas time ikea (well ikea here in australia) does strands of battery powered mini globes which would be pretty good for this job too. Can’t wait to have a go at this. Thanks for the tutorial!

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