One thing I love about chalkboards are the ability and ease of which they can become part of your seasonal decor/celebrations. Not to mention how lovely they look on their own (especially when displayed inside a huge reclaimed wood frame):
My first chalkboard design, back in April:
For our BHG photo shoot last month I switched it up:
I’ve been having fun coming up with new ideas for different seasons (as well as parties we’ve had) but when it came time to start thinking about our Thanksgiving decor, I decided to give hand lettering a try.
I posted my sketch on instagram the other night:
A while back I received requests to share my method for chalkboard lettering. I’m nowhere near skilled enough to freehand something fabulous directly onto a chalkboard, and also I enjoy creating the designs on my computer, so I found a method that works great for transferring printed designs.
After I was happy with my sketch, I scanned it in and refined it a bit (I use Illustrator but you can use any word or text editing program to come up with your own):
My chalkboard surface measures a whopping 30×40″, so I set my background to that size and scaled my design until it filled a good area of it:
If you have a larger chalkboard and want to save yourself a couple steps (or don’t have the software to do the next step), at this point you can take your file down to a copy place (like Staples or Office Max) and have them print it out on the cheapeast paper possible relatively inexpensively. I didn’t feel like getting out of my pajamas so I decided to just split the design across 9 sheets of 8.5×11″ paper—that is the grid you see above (the large white box represents the overall chalkboard surface).
Then I printed each page out (using the cheapest/thinnest copy paper possible on a draft setting—quality doesn’t matter!)
This next step is also optional, but since my design didn’t print borderless, I trimmed off the white edges so I could line them all up without any overlap:
Then I got brought it over to my chalkboard and got it into position:
Now the chalk comes in. The type of chalk you use is actually quite important. I tried to use a cheap/dollar store brand last time and it didn’t work at all. You want chalk that has a more powdery/richer residue and not as slippery/waxy, if that makes sense. I think any decent name brand should work.
Simply take your chalk and rub it on the backside of your paper where the design is printed. You can cover the entire paper but I found that just wastes time (and chalk), so I hold the paper up a bit so the light shines behind it and I can see where I’m drawing.
You can also use colored chalk for this step—it really doesn’t matter much since you’ll be covering over it anyway.
Once it’s covered, set it back in place on the chalkboard, printed side up. Then grab a hard object to use as a burnishing tool. Because the strokes in my design were on the thick side and didn’t need to be super exact, I just used the cap of a sharpie, but with more intricate designs I’ve actually used the tip of a ball point pen.
Staying within the lines of your design, apply firm pressure until you’ve covered the surface to transfer the chalk powder onto your board. Before going too far, lift up a corner to make sure it’s working.
Once you see it working, you can tape that sheet of paper in place and apply the chalk to the back of the other sheets.
I took a sheet adjacent to the piece I had just taped, applied chalk to the back, taped it back in place and then repeated the process. Removing one sheet at a time makes it easier to keep everything in position.
Once the chalk was fully applied to the back and everything was taped into place, I continued to trace the design with my sharpie cap. You don’t have to spend too much time on this—the general idea is just to get an outline that you
can trace and refine with chalk (or a chalk pen).
And here it is!
Finally, it’s just a matter of filling it in. You can make the strokes as thin or as thick as you’d like, or just follow the template.
My little apprentice was watching intently.
I thought about going festive with orange chalk, but decided to keep it more traditional and classic with the black and white.
Whenever we have gatherings, guests usually end up doodling or writing messages on the chalkboard and I can see this being filled with things our guests are thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving—we’re hosting up to 12 people this year (my first time ever), so the planning is underway!
Thankfully we have a table that was built just for this purpose.
This chalkboard is only the first touch of fall in this kitchen, but there’s more on the way!
I have lots of flea market shopping and DIY’ing to do and plan to share updates of our front porch, foyer and dining table over the next couple weeks.
In the meantime… who wants a free Give Thanks template? I’ve made it super easy for you to download and print to use on your own chalkboard. Or simply print it out and frame it as art if you’d like. It’s an 8×10″ file but you can scale it up to any size for the chalkboard template since the quality doesn’t make a difference.
Just head over to my Facebook page to download! (You may have to click Continue or OK to be redirected)
Alright, time to get the ball rolling on our front porch which is in major need of some updates. I’ll be back next week with some progress (starting with another DIY wood working project—wish me luck!)