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Make It : Nautical flag personalized wall hanging

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I made a rule for myself that I do NOT craft any gifts for Christmas and Hanukkah - this rule was the result of the annual meltdowns that were had while trying to complete numerous handmade gifts, wrap them, and still bake and cook and travel for my family's holiday parties. Now members of my family receive store-bought (but thoughtful!) gifts, but have me there to be merry with them: on time, relaxed, and sane.

So in these last few days before Christmas, all I'm doing is baking, cooking, and wrapping: no crafting! But since this is, after all, a craft blog, I'll show you one of my handmade birthday gifts from this year that you may want to translate into a holiday gift. My dad is a retired Captain in the Navy, so for his birthday I made him this personalized wall hanging. It spells our last name in nautical signal flags!


wooden nautical signal flags spell "E-A-R-L" from top to bottom

It's quick and easy, so if - unlike me - you are still in the business of making last-minute holiday gifts, you could rock this out in an evening. I don't think you need to be Naval or a boater or fisherman to enjoy this - it's kind of cool as an abstract sort of thing, and you can make it spell anything you want ("welcome," initials, etc.).

The chart for the flag alphabet can be found here, and here is a flag-translator (who knew!)!

Click below to read more and get the how-to.

(happy holidays!)

(happy holidays!)

To create each flag, I stained a store-bought square wooden plaque (I got these at Michaels) with regular wood stain and let it dry. I then taped off a margin of 1/4 inch, all the way around the square in the center of the plaque with painter's tape. I picked one color in the flag, painted the whole square that color with acrylic paint, and let it dry. I then taped off the area for the next color (a lot of times this is just cutting the square in half or dividing it diagonally with painter's tape) and painted again. Once each flag was finished, I put a coat of antiquing medium over it - a type of paint you can find at stores like Michaels, which just gives it an aged/weathered look.  A coat of crackle finish would also look cool, but the finishes are all optional. I then put a coat of outdoor sealer on it, in case my dad wanted to hang it outside (also optional). To connect the squares, I used tiny screw hooks and eyes (also found at Michaels, but probably also available at home improvement stores). I slapped some hanging hardware on the back of the first letter and voila! - fabulous personalized gift.

Comments (3)

  • Great idea! Especially for those of us that live near the water. I have some wood boxes that would look great with a smaller version of this on them - especially for a friend of ours that is an avid fisherman. Thanks for a great idea!!

  • Great looking signal flags and like the way that you put them together with the stain and paint and then sealing them. They look great and bet your dad loved it.

  • [...] am a huge fan of all things nautical—as I mentioned once before, my dad is a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy and I’m super-proud of that. I spent most of my [...]

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