diy projects, holidays, valentines day

DIY: Marquee Light Heart

marquee heart

I was asked to make a marquee heart light for a wedding last year, and gladly accepted the job as I knew it’d be a fun one. I hadn’t previously worked with wood and wiring, so knew it was definitely going to be a two person job. Lucky for me, I had access to a nice, strong boyfriend who was willing and able to lend me some muscle and a knowledgeable skill set for the project (thank you Chad!).  I took some photos as we made it, and thought I’d post the DIY now since hearts are so in season right now with V-day around the corner.   Chad and I had a lot of fun making this and made the whole heart on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  So if you’re looking for a fun weekend project to do with your boyfriend or girlfriend, I suggest taking a little trip to Home Depot and making something like this.

Materials Needed:

  • Large piece of butcher paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Birch Plywood
  • Penny Nails
  • Spring Clamps
  • Tools: Drill (9/16” and 1” inch drill bit), Jigsaw, Hammer
  • Frosted globe lights
  • 4” wide aluminum flashing
  • Optional: Paint, Wood Stain

DIY Heart

Step #1: Fold your butcher paper in half and trace half of a heart shape, then cut out the heart with scissors. Unfold and use the paper heart stencil to trace the pattern onto your plywood with a pencil. Use tape to secure the heart onto the plywood while you trace.

Step #2: Use the jigsaw to cut along the heart, following the lines you previously traced on from your pattern.

Step #3: Sand the edges of the heart.

Step #4: Use a ruler to measure and trace where you will be drilling the holes for your lights. We went 2” inwards from the edge, but feel free to alter to your preference.

Step #5: Using a measuring tape, string and/or your legit eyeballing skills, mark where you want the holes for your lights to go. Be sure to measure distance between lights to ensure consistency.

Optional Step (Not Pictured): Using any small drill bit, drill guide holes for the larger bit.  You don’t have to do this, but it does make it easier for the next step.

Step #6: With the 1” drill bit, you want to countersink drill about halfway through the board. Once you’ve made these holes, you’ll want to use a 9/16″ drill bit (or whatever the diameter of your light sockets are) to drill all the way through these holes.

Note: “We didn’t use spring clamps, but we should have during this step to make this process easier.” – Chad

Step #7: Paint your heart. If going for a weathered look, paint a layer of white and let dry. Then sand using fine-grit sandpaper, add a layer of wood stain, and re-touch dark areas with highlights of white paint to get that patina look, which as you can see is the look we were going for.  Thrifty and Chic has a great DIY post on weathered wood techniques, which is what I followed for the painting process. DIY marquee heart paint

Step #8: Starting at the top center of the heart (the “widows peak” – Chad made that name up and insists I describe it as so), begin molding the aluminum flashing around the edge. Make sure it is centered as best as you can (definitely a two person job) and add the finishing nails every 3-4” to secure it into place around the heart.  Once you’ve gone around the heart, cut off the excess flashing with scissors.

Note: Keep in mind, this was the most difficult step for us. You could buy glue dots or adhesive strips to line the center of your flashing to ensure when you wrap it around the heart, it stays centered.

Step #9: Position the light sockets from your string lights into the back of the heart, making sure to leave enough slack in the wire at the bottom to plug in the lights. Screw the light bulbs into the front.

Step #10: Once they’re in and the positioning is set, use a staple gun to neatly organize the light strand on the back of the heart. And there you have it!  Now it’s time to just plug her in!

DIY marquee heart light


Update: I swapped out the previous client’s requested purple lights with some white ones for a shoot I put together. The white lights are definitely my preference. You can see more from that shoot HERE.


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