Organize & Clean

How To Create Rope Light Word Art

updated Jul 18, 2020
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Whether for a holiday, or any day really, decorating with lights can be fun and festive decoration. Feeling limited by holiday-themed options? Consider customizing the perfect message inspired by neon typography. You can try on a DIY rope light sign for way less money and way less commitment.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Pick a Word or an Abstract Design
Pick a word or name with sentimental importance, or just something that looks stunning hanging on the wall. Annaleena of Annaleena’s Hem went with a simple “star” to decorate the wall of her dining room.

Or take inspiration from a 2012 New York Design Week installation from Tanya Aguiniga’s Rope Light series and try an abstract pattern of lines.

Plot it Out
Where is it going? How big should the design be? Sketch out the lighting plan with paper and pencil (plain paper sheets taped together makes an easy template), or sketch it right onto the wall with chalk. 

Remember rope light can’t cut tight corners, so keep everything curved and fluid. Once it’s set, measure the word to determine roughly how much rope is needed.

Buy Rope Lighting
LED rope lighting costs more than the incandescent version, but it uses less energy and won’t get hot (and stink up its plastic casing). Make sure to get enough to cover the measurement made before. Some rope lighting is sold in long strands capable of being cut to certain lengths, which makes getting a more accurate design easier.

Get it Up
There are two ways to tackle the actual creation of light art:

  • Fasten it to the wall: If wall mounts are not included with the rope lights, grab a pack and get busy screwing the mounts into the wall as you “write” the word. This tutorial from Pretty Handy Girl is a great resource full of tips (like using a laser level) from somebody who’s done it before.
  • Fasten it to a frame: Renters, or anyone who wants temporary decorations (like holiday signs), can create a frame for their rope light word art. The frame almost makes this look like a neon sign. There’s a tutorial over at Martha Stewart using wreath forms and cable ties to create the word “Joy” (along with a printable template).
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)