Fancy That! Easy Chalkboard Art!

We’ve all seen the signs. Fancy chalkboard art is all over Pinterest, it’s at weddings and birthday parties and on this month’s cover of Country Living Magazine.

Chalkboard Country Living Magazine

So, you ask, how does one (who really cannot draw more than stick figures) create a great-looking sign that you can be proud of? Well, I have done quite a bit of research and have read many, many how-to tutorials. Most involved special transfer paper, graph paper, rulers and grids and painstaking copying. That didn’t appeal to me-I like quick, fast and easy (insert joke here). The more things I get done, the more things I get to keep doing! I needed a sign for next week’s booth, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try my own approach to chalking it up. Here we go:

Step 1: Go to the barn and get an antique cupboard door that’s been hanging around for generation or two-thanks, Coach!

Antique Door

If you are making your own chalkboard, like I did, I recommend Benjamin Moore Chalkboard paint.

Chalkboard Paint-Benjamin MooreI have tried many brands and this one is very smooth and creates a nice writing surface. You need two coats. Follow the directions on the can. It takes 3 days to cure. Follow the directions on the can. Make sure you “size” the board before you write on it with chalk. Then wipe it down. Follow the directions on the can.

Step 2. Decide what you want to say. I needed to make two signs: one for Country Design Home and one for the name of the monthly market. For the May market, its Mom’s Garden.

Mom;s Garden

Use your basic paint program or photoshop or whatever you use to create the words and graphics you would like to have on your sign. You can be as fancy or plain as you like. Size them to the exact specs of the board you are decorating. You will need to create the entire board, and you can do that in sections or all on one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. Print them as you normally would on regular printer paper, do not flip them to the reverse. If you have printed a large design in sections, you need to tape the whole thing together before you tape it to the board. You can use the program from Blockposters to create a large mural-type board.

Step 3. Flip the paper over and then take some sharpened chalk and draw along the lines of the print. I will call this reverse chalking. Be neat, but you don’t have to be fanatical about it. That’s what wet wipes are for.

Reverse Chalking

And yes, you can sharpen chalk with a regular pencil sharpener-who knew?! And it doesn’t make that squeaky “nails on the blackboard” noise either!

Chalk Sharpener

Step 4. Carefully place the paper, chalk side down on your prepared surface. Don’t move it around too much or it will leave smudgy stuff on your nice clean board. Tape it in place. Repeat, tape it in place.

Taped Design

Step 5. Take something smooth but pointy- like this cuticle thingy (lord knows, I don’t use it for my nails…) and rub all of the lines that you want to magically appear on the chalkboard.

Cuticle Press

Step 6. You can carefully lift the paper up just to make sure you have transferred all of the chalk lines you need as you go.

Chalkboard Design Check

Step 7. When you are happy that the design has been transferred to your liking, you carefully remove the paper, and voila! Instant fancy printing!  I added just a few corner embellishments, but this is where you can go crazy adding all kinds of cute graphics free hand!Chalkboard Sign

You will most likely need to use your sharpened chalk to clean up the edges, deepen the color and thicken the lines. (I also read somewhere that you should wet the chalk or the board to make the lines darker and clearer. That didn’t work for me, but have at it if you don’t think your lines are dark enough.) If you make a mistake, just use a wet wipe and try again.

Step 8. If you wish to make this permanent, then spray with some matte acrylic spray. I read somewhere that you could use hairspray, but I didn’t try it so I can’t vouch for that technique.Krylon Matte Finish

Step 9. Chalk it up to another great D.I.M. (Do It Myself) tip from Country Design Home! Susan

Chalking It Up

I am still playing catch-up from our tropical weekend, and slowly but surely I am making the final push to get the house decorated for the holidays! For quite some time, I have been wanting a chalk board for the kitchen, not so much for notes and memos, but to add a bit of my own brand of humor to our environs. Not wanting to go out and purchase a chalkboard, and knowing that we have dozens of bins of holiday stuff that I could upcycle, I found this old tavern sign hanging around the basement. Cute, huh? Mistletoe Sign       Time for some simple D.I.M! (Do It Myself,  because if I don’t, who else will!? ) I really didn’t want to ruin the cute pic on the front, in the event that I would want to use it again. So I flipped it over to the back side, where there was a nice, clean, even surface to work with. You can pretty much transform anything into a chalkboard! Here’s how:

1. Clean, then sand the surface lightly to remove any dust or surface imperfections. Then, wipe it down with a tack cloth (you can pick these up at your local hardware store). The tack cloth is a little sticky, so it picks up all of the extra fine dust that your rag may not.

2. For the first coat, I used Martha Stewart Magnetic Paint, so the surface becomes a magnet board as well. If you don’t want that, then proceed to the next step.

Chalk Magnetic Paint Marthat Stewart

3. In between coats, lightly sand and wipe down with the tack cloth again. See what you missed with that damp rag!?

Chalk Tack Cloth

4. Paint on the chalkboard paint with a sponge brush to avoid lines.

Chalkboard Paint finish

Make sure you don’t leave any streaks or blobs of paint. Wait an hour, apply a second coat. Allow to dry for 24 hours.  Chalkboard Plaid Paint

5. Take a piece of chalk on its side and rub it all over the board- this “cures” the surface and allows you to write easily on your new board. Now write some funny, witty holiday greeting for all to see and enjoy!

Chalk curing

6. Hang it up. Decorate around it. Add a few candles. Done. So my niche in the kitchen went from this fall vignette:

Chalk board Fall Vignette

To this holiday greeting!

Chalk Finished Wall

Time to tackle the mantel! Susan 

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