Last week, I was working on my latest project (the deco mesh pumpkin wreath), and I wanted to make a sign to hang on it…..but I didn’t have any chipboard. Cardstock would be too flimsy, vinyl wouldn’t stick to the deco mesh, and wood would be too heavy. Just what was I going to do??
I sat and thought about my predicament for a while, then started walking around my house because, like Tom Cruise needing his bat in ‘A Few Good Men,’ it helps me think. Then, as I walked through my kitchen for the umpteenth time, it hit me…..a cereal box! A simple little cereal box would be the answer to my crafting prayers. The structure and texture of a cereal box are the perfect substitute for chipboard, and here I’ll show you how to cut a cereal box and make a custom sign of your very own.
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How To Cut A Cereal Box & Make A Custom Sign
Here are some reasons why I love using a cereal box to make a custom sign:
- It’s green and a great way to upcycle.
- It’s a free craft supply.
- It takes paint very well.
- The final sign is light-weight and easy to hang, but still firm and sturdy.
- People are shocked when they find out something so cute and fancy could come from such a plain, every day object….I’m still shocked myself.
The sign that I’m making in this tutorial is the “Boo!” sign I created for my deco mesh pumpkin wreath.
I’ll be using my Silhouette Cameo to cut out my sign, but if you don’t have one, fear not! You can use another die cutting machine or even just a pair of scissors or X-Acto knife and cut your design out by hand and still make a mighty fine sign.
- Cereal box
- Paint Brush
- Floral wire
- Hot glue gun
- Silhouette Cameo
- Cutting mat
- Painter’s tape
Prepping The Cereal Box
Since my sign was going to have two layers (the word and the background), I used both the front and back panels of my cereal box. I probably could have fit both layers on one panel, but hey, it’s a cereal box so it’s not like I was wasting anything expensive like precious vinyl.
Using a pair of scissors, I cut down the seams of the box and removed the two large panels. I then trimmed them up and made sure all the edges were smooth and no little jagged bits were sticking up.
Silhouette Cameo Cut Settings
For cutting out this medium on my Silhouette Cameo, I selected ‘Coverstock’ from the list of options in the Silhouette Studio Cut Settings menu. I left all the defaults as well:
- Speed: 1
- Thickness: 33
- Blade: 7
- Cutting Mat: Checked
- Double Cut: Checked
Depending on your particular box, you may need to adjust your settings here. I always do a test cut first just to make sure my settings are correct, and I’ve found that more times than not, the default settings have it spot-on.
Loading The Cutting Mat
Now that my design and cut settings were ready, I needed to prepare my cereal box and Silhouette machine. Since my cutting mat has been well-loved, it’s lost most of its stickiness. I worked around this by adding a couple strips of painter’s tape to the edge of the cereal box to make sure it didn’t shift mid-cut. If you’re using a brand new mat, you may not need to do this (but I always say better safe than sorry because few things make me sadder than a Silhouette cut gone wrong).
(As you can see, I sacrificed this $1.00 off coupon for this project….that’s dedication right there.)
Doing a Test Cut
Like I mentioned earlier, since this is obviously not a standard craft medium, I always run a test cut first thing.
I made sure my blade was adjusted to 7, and a simple test cut revealed that once again, the default ‘Coverstock’ settings are good to go….I love it when that happens.
Cutting Out the First Layer
Now that my Cut Settings and machine were both ready, it was time to cut out the first layer of my sign. I had already gone to my Cut Style menu and selected just the word “Boo!” to be cut and left the background offset as ‘No Cut’.
Then, in my Cut Settings menu, I hit ‘Cut’ at the bottom and watched the magic happen! Since the ‘Coverstock’ setting has a Speed of 1 and is also doing a double cut, the cutting obviously takes longer than when using vinyl or paper materials, but the final results are just as crisp and wonderful.
Cutting Out the Second (Background) Layer
To cut out the background layer of my sign, I went back to my Cut Style menu and changed the letters to ‘No Cut’ and the background to ‘Cut’.
I then prepped my cutting mat with the other cereal box panel, secured it with some more painter’s tape, loaded it into the machine, and hit ‘Cut’ in the Cut Settings menu. More magic happened, but this time, the double cut was a little off (perhaps my blade is getting dull?). This wasn’t a big deal though….the back layer of the cereal box remained slightly attached in several spots, but it was easy to tear away with my fingers. All was well. :)
Painting The Layers
Now that my sign was all cut out, it was time to get my paint on! I raided my craft paint stash and decided to paint the letters black with some black glitter on top, and the background layer would be painted purple with orange and green glitter…..how Halloweeny!
I just LOVE the Martha Stewart line of craft paints because they are so versatile and high quality. I’ve used them on canvas here and here, on plastic dinosaurs here, and another cereal box sign here. You can also use them on glass and metal.
The cereal box takes the paint very well. I always use the inside of the box as the front of the sign, just in case the print on the outside of the box wants to show through the paint (the coupon ink would be covered by my black paint). I’m also only going to paint one side of this particular sign, but the other side could be painted as well if needed to hide all remnants of its former life as a cereal box.
Once the base coats were dry, I added a top coat of glitter to each layer. The black glitter paint was actually a clear liquid with black and orange glitter (perfect for both Halloween and the Cincinnati Bengals!). The orange glitter paint was a translucent orange liquid with orange and green glitter.
Assembling the Sign
Once the glitter top coats had completely dried, it was time to glue the two layers together. I chose to use some spray adhesive that works really well for projects like this….you can reposition your pieces if need be and then it dries and provides a solid hold.
I placed a flattened cardboard box on my craft table, laid out all the letters so they had their back sides facing up, then one by one, gave each a few blasts of the spray adhesive. Then I simply picked up each newly sprayed letter and placed it adhesive-side down on the glittered purple background. I held each one in place for a few seconds until the adhesive started to dry, and then bam! I now had a completed, custom, DIY sign…..made from a cereal box of all things!
I just love how the paint colors and glitter combos work together. From straight on, you just see black on purple, but when you look at it from an angle, you can see the iridescent glitter….perfect for Halloween decor!
I’ve found that since the cereal box is very much like craft chipboard, it maintains its shape and doesn’t curl up when painted. If yours starts to curl when wet, I’m sure placing it under a flat, heavy object (such as a frying pan or book) when dry would flatten it right out.
Hanging The Sign
Now that the sign was assembled, it needed to be prepped for hanging on my pumpkin wreath. I grabbed some of the floral wire that I used to hang the wreath and cut two pieces that were both a few inches long. Then I bent one end of each into a little hook.
On the backside of my sign, I added two small lines of hot glue at either end, and then I held the straight side of each floral wire hook in the hot glue until it hardened. Viola! Two hooks later and now my sign was ready for hanging.
If you don’t have any floral wire, you could use paperclips or Christmas ornament hooks instead. Also, if you didn’t need/want to use hooks, you could attach ribbon or twine on the back and hang it that way. It’s really whatever you want for your particular project.
The hooks slide right into the deco mesh on the wreath. The sign is therefore easily adjustable or removable if I wanted to rock a plain pumpkin wreath, or I may even make a generic “Happy Harvest” sign to use in September and a “Happy Thanksgiving” sign for November to go with this “Boo!” October sign. I love interchangeable decor that you can get more mileage out of!
Plus, since this is just a (former) cereal box, the sign is extremely light-weight and doesn’t pull on or potentially damage the wreath in any way. A thicker chipboard or wood sign would probably be too heavy to use in this instance.
My Cereal Box Sign in All Its Glory!
You wouldn’t believe how many people are shocked to hear that I made this custom sign from a cereal box. Their astonished “You made that–from a *cereal box*??” makes me chuckle every time. It is quite amazing that you can’t tell from the final product that it once housed chunks of shredded wheat.
Here’s another sign I made from a cereal box that’s now a part of our NFL House Divided Wreath.
I would obviously only use these cereal box signs indoors since they wouldn’t last very long exposed to the elements outside (but then again, maybe you could seal them….if you try it let me know how it turns out!). And you of course are not limited to cereal boxes! Other boxes around the house would work just as well as a free substitute for chipboard….tissue boxes, other snacks/food items, household items, etc., can also be used. Hooray for upcycling!
These signs would be perfect for hanging not only on wreaths, but also as:
- Door signs (kids’ rooms, play room, craft room, laundry room, etc.)
- Christmas ornaments or other holiday decor
- General home decor
- Wine bottle charms
- Gift tags
- Scrapbooking features
So, save yourself some money while helping out the planet and upcycle a cereal box into your very own sign! I’d love to see whatever you create!
Thanks so much for stopping by!