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DIY Light Up Marqee Letters

I have been seeing these letters popping up a lot lately.  I decided they were kind of cool and would look great in my craft room.  I have seen youtubers put things like this on their background shelves and things.  These letters were a lot more expensive than I thought they would be.  I was seeing $5 to $20 per letter.  The & sign was very difficult to find and always much higher than the other letters.  So, I decided to make my own.  This way I could also make them the rose gold color I love so much.   


  1. Exacto knife 
  1. Acrylic paint. I used rose gold.
marqee light up letters
  1. String of lights.  I found some marquee letters at dollar tree, but they were never any of the letters people wanted.  So, I picked three that had the most light bulbs on a string.  I may use the numbers in the future for a child’s birthday party or something, but for now I was only buying them for the lights inside.  A dollar for just the lights was a good deal I thought.  You could also get fairy lights without the bulb on the ends there are many different types now a days.  You can also wait till after Christmas and get some nice string lights heavily discounted.   
marqee light up letters
  1. Paper mache letters of your choice.  I bought mine from Hobby Lobby, but I believe Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Michales also has them.  I have also seen small metal letters that could also possibly work.   
  1. Maybe hot glue and hot glue gun  

The first thing I did was to cut the back off of the paper mache letters.  This will become the front of the letter.  I used the exacto knife and carefully cut along the edge.  Once the one side is off you can remove the extra cardboard pieces inside.  Mine were not glued down or anything, so they were easy to remove.  You will not need these pieces.  I then took a piece of sand paper and sanded down the edges so they would look nice and even.   

Now paint the letters in your desired color.  I chose a rose gold.  Many of these letters come in a silver galvanized like metal.  So, they would also be pretty painted like that.  I only applied one coat of paint, but some spots I had to go over a second time.  Since my rose gold color blended well with the cardboard color only one coat was needed.  You may need to apply two coats of paint if you choose a different color.  You will need to paint the inside of the letters, the edges, and the sides.  I also chose to paint the back.   

Once everything is dry, I measured out where I wanted the light bulbs to go.  I used a pencil to mark where I wanted the light bulbs to go to help me visualize it.  I made my marks on the back side so they would not show on the front. Even pencil will not earas well on paint. I also realized the plastic bulbs at the end of the lights can stand on their own.  So, I then just placed the plastic bulbs, without the light and wire portion, on my letters to ensure I liked the placements.  Then I marked with a pencil where I needed to make the holes.  To make the holes I first used a push pin to start the hole.  I just pushed the push pin all the way through the cardboard letter through my pencil marks.  Then I took a drill and drilled small holes in all my pre made holes I just made.  To determine the drill bit size, I measured the width of my light bulb.  I wanted the hole big enough for the light bulb to fit through, but smaller than the plastic bulb that attaches to the end of the light bulb.  You could also make these holes with the exacto knife or scissors.   

Now all that is left is to insert the lights and turn them on.  I recommend placing the lights so that the battery pack ends at the bottom of the letter.  My letter “K” has the battery pack at the top, but I think I want to attach my letters to a piece of wood to make a sign with them.  So, for this the battery pack at the top works better for this letter, since it will be closer to the top of the wood.  I may also drill a hole in the wood to feed the battery packs through so the wires do not show above or below the letters.  My letter “F” does not stand on its own.  It needs something to help hold it up.  This is another reason why I think I will attach my letters to a sign.  I also applied some hot glue to the back of my lights, because some of the plastic bulbs kept falling off.  I also applied some hot glue to around the holes the lights are going through to secure them.  There are not many steps in this project, but it is a little time consuming to make.  I think determining the location of the light bulbs was the most time consuming part.  If you make these I would love to see how yours turned out.   

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