Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chalkboard Design Tips

It's true. I have an incredible obsession with chalkboard paint. I heart chalkboard paint. I used to hide it; deny it; laugh at it... and now I just accept it. 

I am fairly certain though, that hubby has cut me off... after painting several chalkboards of varying size, I took the liberty of painting a wall. When he saw it, the look in his eyes was 'you're done'. But he loves it. And so do I!  

I love that I can change the designs whenever I want. Though it does take time; time I should use to do the laundry, call team members, clean my office (can anyone say procrastination?), it does satisfy my need for change in the house. And it's just plain fun. Who doesn't like to write on a chalkboard?

So... as my obsession developed, I learned a lot about having giant chalkboards. Here are some tips and tricks I have found incredibly useful:

- Prep the floor below your chalkboard.  If you have a chalkboard wall, or large chalkboard you can’t remove from the wall, cover the floor with a towel or something to catch the chalk dust. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Chalk falls and even when you clean it, it’s still sort of ‘always there'. Also, when you are finished with your design, leave the towel on the floor for a few hours, especially if your chalkboard is in a high-traffic area. The dust from a freshly drawn chalkboard will continue to fall for a while and again, you don't want it stuck to your floor.

- Seasoning your board. If you’re using a new chalkboard, consider ‘seasoning’ it. You don’t have to do this, but it does help with ‘staining’ that can occur when removing your design. (Staining is when you erase your chalkboard and a shadow of the image is still there.) If this happens, it’s not a big deal.

Seasoning gives your chalkboard a ‘well loved’ look. This will happen anyway, but if you don’t like that, don’t worry about it. I have one board I seasoned and one I didn't. Honestly, there is a very minuscule difference between the two.

- How to season: it’s so easy! Using a large piece of chalk (sidewalk chalk works great) run the long side all over your chalkboard. Once you have the whole thing covered, use a wet washcloth to wipe it all off. That’s it!

- Designs/Quotes. If you don’t feel creative, or just want some quick ideas, our good friends Google and Pinterest have a ton of chalkboard designs that you can simply copy. 

I like to Google quotes by people I like and design from there. Also, if your chalkboard is something you would like to update frequently, I suggest keeping a list of quotes you like. When you’re ready to change your board, pick one and go for it!

- Fonts. Yes, you can just write on your chalkboard, but using different fonts and font sizes makes your design more interesting. I suggest no more than two, maybe three fonts with one being script and one serif, all of which are different thickness, darkness, size, etc; it makes it pleasing to the eye. 

- For font ideas, go online to a free font website and take a look. is great, as is, though dafont isn't always free. Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to download them, just copy onto your design sheet (see below).

- Your Design. I find it's easier to sketch out your design on paper first. That, or have a copy of the design you want to do in hand.

- Lightly sketch out your design on the chalkboard first. This way you can get the design how you want it to look before finalizing it.

- Chalk. There are lots of options out there from classic sticks of chalk, to fancy chalk cartridge writers and chalk markers. Personally, I like good oldfashioned chalk sticks. They’re not as precise as the chalk pens, but they erase from your board without a headache, come in lots of different colors, and are easy to use. 

Keep in mind; depending on the type of chalk pen you are using, it may not come off your board at all. At best, there will be a lot of scrubbing involved, so if you like to change your chalkboard often, I suggest sticking with regular chalk.

- Water is a huge player in the chalkboard game. Water is your friend. You need it to clean up your mistakes, and to get your design to pop. 

Have a wet washcloth on hand. You can also have a little cup of water nearby to dip your chalk into. (I usually just press my chalk into the washcloth because I keep my cloth pretty wet). Keep dipping your chalk as you go. It will go on your chalkboard and not look very dark, but trust me, it will dry nice and bold.

- Colored chalk. White chalk is my go-to, but I use colored chalk to accent certain words, and/or the design in general.

- Washcloth, or fabric rag. Use a washcloth or fabric rag when removing (or editing) your design. Paper towels fall apart, and also leave a residue all over your board. Plus, it's just more green to use a cloth.

- Q-tips are awesome tools for erasing small, hard-to-get-to-with-a-washcloth areas. I also use my washcloth wrapped around my little finger, if I'm too 'engrossed' in my project to get a q-tip.

- Level your design. If free-handing your design is too scary, it's ok... you can use a level or ruler to lightly draw lines (which you can later erase).

 To center words on your chalkboard, start in the middle. For instance, if you want to write the word ‘HAPPINESS’ and you want it centered, find the center of your chalkboard and write your letter ‘I’. From there, work your way out until you have sketched the entire word.

- Rubbing.  If you just don’t want to free-hand at all, there is a simple trick you can do for perfect chalkboards every time: Rubbing your design on! 

Open a Word document, and create your design, fun fonts, design and all. Print it out, flip it over, and use a large piece of chalk to completely (and heavily) cover the back side of your paper with chalk. 

Place your paper, chalk side to the chalkboard, and trace the design. When you remove the paper, there will be a light copy of your design on the chalkboard. From there, simply trace over the light copy of your design with wet chalk to make it pop! 

Of course, this works much better on smaller chalkboards, though you certainly could print out several sheets and arrange them on your board.

- Most important of all.... HAVE FUN! It’s a chalkboard for goodness sake. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you will have designed it with love. And of course, there's always a wet rag and water...


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