If you’re a lover of chalkboard art, I’m sure you have experienced having to regretfully erase a carefully crafted creation because it has either become smudged over time, or has outlived the season that it celebrated. While this is not a tragedy of mammoth proportion for a smaller piece, having to erase a large chalkboard creation could almost move one to tears. Well, no more! I’ve got a way for you to preserve those cherished creations and also change them out within seconds as needed! This project was born out of my own personal need last year around Christmas and I put it into service again this week.
You may have caught glimpses of the vintage door that stands in a corner of our living room in past posts. I painted the “Porch Rules” sign on it several years ago and still love it, but the message is a bit out of place come winter. So last year I figured out an way to insert a chalkboard art piece over the painted sign temporarily. The piece was quite involved and I was not excited about putting a lot of work into something that wouldn’t last, so I made sure to use materials that allowed me to preserve my artwork and use it again in the future. Now I can change the look of my door in a snap!
Today is the first day of school. I tell you this because I was a teacher for 29 years and, to this day, my body clock and sense of time is tied to the school year. It is also the reason that I decided that I needed a new chalkboard sign for my beloved vintage door. While today marks my third year of retirement, this week has been the first time that I have truly felt out of place and a bit left out of the back to school scene.
Don’t get me wrong, I have really missed the kids and my colleagues over the last two years, but there was so much happening in my life that I didn’t have time to dwell on not going back to the profession that I loved. During the first year I had two hand surgeries and was really thankful that I was not trying to teach trying to heal. Year two still involved time devoted to rehabilitating my hands. Because I taught Marketing at the high school level, my kids were in charge of the school store and all that went along with running that business. Again, I felt very blessed to not be trying to undertake those very physical aspects of my job without being at my physical best.
That leads us to the last couple of weeks. I am finally pretty much back to normal and, to be honest, there have been a few tears shed and a lot of praying going on here at the cottage by the creek. For the first time since I retired, I am feeling like a plane with no flight plan. While that doesn’t sound like a bad thing to the creative side of my brain, the truth is that, being very middle brained, there is a practical side of my brain that is currently a bit of a mess! That side of my brain has always mandated that I be a girl with a plan, a charted course that I was working towards. While the creative side of me was open to changes in direction as I felt the Lord’s leading, the practical side of my brain would make the appropriate accommodations and chart the new course to keep me on track. Now, however, for the first time in years, I am not sure in which direction I am supposed to head, making the practical side of my brain border on frenzied.
During my time in the classroom, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that teaching was my calling. With that behind me now, I am feeling a bit at loose ends. Designing Wilder was started on a step of faith that it was time to use the creative gifts that the Lord had given me and that people had been after me for years to pursue. However, from the start, I have never entirely sure which direction I am supposed to take the business. Understandably this creates some discomfort along with the inevitable doubt and insecurities that go hand in hand with the unknown. Logically, I get that, but somehow logic doesn’t calm all my fears at times. The Lord and I have had multiple conversations about this over the last few months with me telling Him that it is time for Him to give me the big picture, but He just keeps telling me to take one step at a time and trust that He’s got this!
Since January, I have been listening, almost daily, to a song that Kristene DiMarco sings and one phrase in particular has just kept resonating with me. It says, “Let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name.” When the band at church on Sunday started playing that very song, I felt very clearly that I was not the only one who may feel a bit directionless at this moment in life and that it was time to share my heart with you all. After all, we’re all in this together, right?
To that end, I decided that with the beginning of the school year hitting me a bit hard for the first time, I was in need of a constant reminder that was literally right in front of my face to help me keep my attitude in check. So I decided to make a new chalkboard for my door since it sits directly across the room in direct line of sight from my desk. It needed to say something that would remind me to take a breath when I feel like I am not sure where I’m headed, because He’s got this!
Chalkboard Art Materials
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One of the things that I love about this project is that the supplies needed are ones that many of us already have on hand such as scissors, tape and a yard stick. I did use my paper cutter to cut away large sections of paper so that I was just doing detail cuts with the scissors, but it is not mandatory that you have one. Likewise, the small level is helpful if you are doing any piecing together of your design, but you could definitely eye it if you don’t have one. Lastly, I used a stylus when transferring the design to my board, but you can use a pencil or pen. The stylus is rounded so it helps to insure that you don’t poke through the paper and mark on your chalkboard
The other materials that you will need are:
Black Foam Board
Chalkboard Art Procedures
Step 1–Determine your design.
I used Picmonkey.com to put together my design. You can read about them here. They have a free version, although the upgrade is very affordable and gives you far more choices in fonts which is handy for a chalkboard project. They also have flourishes and other art images that can be added. My chalkboard size is long and narrow so I knew I would have to cut my design apart and adjust the spacing, therefore I decided to free hand the embellishments. Once you have your design ready, be sure to save it to your computer. (It will save as a jpeg file.)
Step 2–Blow up your design to poster size.
Blockposters.com is a free website that can be used to enlarge your design. It’s super easy to use too! Simply upload your design file that you just saved to your computer, tell it to make a poster, and it will show you exactly how your design will print out and give you the dimensions of your design so that you can double check to be sure it will fit on your surface.
When you print your design, it will come out on several pieces of paper as you see above.
Step 3–Cut and piece design together.
Cut away the extra paper and tape your design together. You will want to try to avoid having many areas where there are two layers of paper. This makes it harder for the transferring process so cut away the bottom layer wherever possible. Also try to put the tape in white space and not on the letters themselves. Again, that is just another layer that gets in the way of transferring the design. You can see above how mine looked.
If you recall, I needed my design to be longer so I cut the large poster in half right above the word “the”. Keeping the design in as large a section as possible will help keep the layout balanced. While you can print out each word separately, that can be tricky and time consuming to space properly on your chalkboard surface when doing large projects.
(Note: You can take your file to an office store and have them blow it up if you don’t want to do the cutting and taping.)
Step 4–Flip design over and apply chalk to the back.
Using the side of a piece of chalk, rub it over the back side of your design. Use a bit of a heavy hand for this! Shake off the excess chalk dust when finished.
Step 5–Position design on black foam board that has been cut to the desired size and use stylus to trace over design.
Flip design back over and position on your black foam board. (Be sure that if you needed to cut the board down to fit a frame, or in my case the door panel, that you have already done this.) Using the stylus (or a pen) trace over the lines of your design. This will cause the chalk to transfer onto your foam board. Again, the advantage of the stylus is that they won’t poke through your paper.
When you pull the paper away, the chalk lines will be left to act as a guide. It is up to you how much detail you want to “trace”. I traced the main lines and then did the “shadowing” on the banner free hand.
Step 7–Use chalkboard pen to follow lines of your design.
If you haven’t used a chalkboard pen before, it is basically a paint pen. It will have directions on the side about getting it primed, but then they typically flow well. Use a scrap piece of foam board or paper to prime and practice on a bit until you are comfortable and then just trace your design! Don’t forget to add in any embellishments that you want if you did not include them on your paper print out. Keep in mind that you can absolutely use chalk instead of a chalkboard pen if you want to! The design will just not be as sustainable long term and you would need to spray it with a fixative to try to preserve it as long as possible.
Step 8–Rub side of a piece of chalk over entire surface to give the authentic look of a chalkboard. (optional)
To make the foam board look like an authentic chalkboard, I used the side of the chalk again and rubbed it all over the finished design. Then take a paper towel or chalkboard eraser and wipe horizontally and then vertically to even out the finish.
The top half above is before buffing and the bottom is after. If you like a really sharp line on your letters, you can skip this step, but I really like the way it softens the look of the chalkboard pen.
That’s it! Your done! Now frame it or, as with mine, mount it in a place of honor! To hold mine in place I used small black nails that come with my favorite picture hangers. They are easy to pull out and reinsert as needed. When it’s time to change the look of my door, I can put this insert in a large trash bag and store it away until it is needed again. Then all I have to do is pop it back in place and, voila, my door has become a quick change artist!
The best thing about this method is that it can be used for small projects just as easily as for this bigger project. It can be used with real chalk on a chalkboard or, as I did with the chalkboard pen! The materials you use need to be determined by the amount of work involved in the project and the length of time you need it to last. It’s a great trick to have up your crafting sleeve!
I may not be able to see into the future to know exactly where Designing Wilder is going yet, but I’m going to keep taking one step at a time! I truly hope that all of you will take those steps along with me! Now when I’m sitting and working at my desk and those doubts or insecurities try to wriggle their way in, I can look up and my new chalkboard insert will remind me that if He can command the waves and the winds, He can handle directing my future. He’s got this!
Hugs ’til next time!
P.S.–I have included the Kristene DiMarco’s song below! Close your eyes and enjoy!