Monday, February 18, 2013

Chalkboard art made easy

I've been wanting to redo the main focal wall of our family room for some time now and finally decided to tackle it.  I've looked longingly at all the amazing gallery walls on Pinterest long enough!

I wanted to try to make as many things as I could for this new wall and decided I wanted a few chalkboard elements included.  I decided to try two different things to see how it would go.  I have several plain art canvas' laying around and at Christmas time I picked up two faux silver trays at the dollar store.  Armed with a can of Chalkboard spray paint I was ready to go.

The first thing I did was tape off the edges of the two trays I planned to paint.  It's definitely easier to work with the straight sided tray.  The other one I painted was oval and that took quite awhile to tape off because of the curved edges.

The canvas was an inexpensive one from the craft store, it's 16 x 20 and it was pre-primed.  My husband did the first few coats for me and since we had a nice sunny day the coats dried quickly.  I wanted to make sure we had a really nice coat of the paint on each piece so I bet we had at least 8 thin coats on each piece.  The trays each had an embossed design on the center section and after we were done painting these were no longer visible. 

I left them outside to dry for several hours and left them to cure for two days before I added any chalk to them.  Not sure that step was necessary but its what I did and since I wasn't sure what I was going to put on them it gave me a few days to decide.

I have a list of several items I wanted to incorporate into my new wall and one thing that I wanted to make sure to do was make it as personal as I could.  I decided to pay homage to the year we got married on the small rectangular silver tray.

Since I'm not that great at free hand drawing anything I knew if I had something to look at I can usually copy something with fairly good success.  When I was designing what I wanted in Photoshop Elements I realized that if I just cut out what I had designed on my Cameo I could just use it as a stencil.

Here is my design cut and placed and ready to fill in.

I just held it down tight and basically colored in the stencil with chalk.  When it was pretty well covered I removed the paper and did any clean up needed.  I made sure to fill everything in the best I could and cleaned up all the stray bits of chalk dust.  And trust me, there was a lot of it. 

Here is the finished tray, I added the hearts myself because that corner looked a bit bare.  I need to figure out how to seal them since they will be hanging on the wall and will gather dust.  I've heard hair spray works but I'm still researching that. 

* One thing I want to add is I did not season these pieces as you normally would with a newly painted chalkboard piece.  I decided not to do that because I wanted the dark black background vs. the chalky white one you would get on a seasoned board.  This was purely a personal choice but I'm sure the pieces would have stood up to a good rub down with chalk.

For the canvas I decided to first drawn my own frame around the edge.  I used a piece of paper cut a bit smaller than my canvas size and just dragged my chalk along the edge while I made sure to hold it down tight.  It created a nice sharp edge on one side and a softer more irregular edge on the other.

I repeated with a smaller piece of paper to make another frame line and when I was done I added lines in the corners to mimic the mitered edge of a picture frame.

What to put in the frame took some time to decided.  Eventually after much deliberation and approval from my husband I decided on a line from a favorite song.  I used the same technique as the tray to add my text to this piece.  I decided to make the font more graphic since the other was so curvy, I thought it would be a nice contrast to use different styles for each piece since they will hang on the same wall.  Before I started filling in my text I placed a book underneath the canvas that was the same thickness.  It helped to have a nice firm surface to fill in each letter.  I did save all the centers of each letter from my template like the A, D, O, R and B and just laid them down holding carefully while I filled in each letter.  I thought it would be easier to do that than try to remove the chalk after and I definitely think it was.  I had a fair amount of clean up to do on this piece and just dipped q-tips in a bit of water to help get any large smudges off.  It took some time but eventually I got it cleaned up to my liking while still leaving a few stray bits to keep it looking hand done. 

Here are the two finished pieces together.

I could see so many possibilities with this, using my Cameo just took so much of the stress of free hand drawing away.  If you don't have a Cameo you could still design your art, print it out on your home comptuer and cut it out with a sharp craft knife and go from there.

I have a few more hand made items for my wall so I'll share those as they get done.


  1. Very cool and I appreciate your step-by-step. I love my cameo and it maks great stencils.