Sometime around the beginning of this year, I bought a chalkboard for my kitchen wall. I had long admired the old fashioned look of hand lettering and wanted to incorporate it into my kitchen décor. While I know that chalkboard paint is all the rage right now, I wanted a less permanent solution, so I decided to buy one. I went to my favorite online “store”, EBay, to see if they had anything I liked and whoa!, did they ever. They sell any and every size and shape of chalkboard you could ever conceive. I limited my search to the stick-to-the-wall variety for a couple of reasons. First, it’s going to be in a high traffic area and I was hoping to limit the accidental jostling or rubbing-up-against problem by having it be flush to the wall. Secondly, it was going to be so much easier to find the right size and shape I wanted if I went with a stick-on variety in lieu of a standard hung-on-the-wall type of board. And thirdly, price. The kind I got was much less expensive to begin with and, since slate chalkboards tend to be pretty darn heavy, the difference in shipping price was pretty remarkable. Anyhoo, I bought one that looks pretty much like this one…
Mine has a permanent white line running around the border, but you get the idea. Incidentally, here’s a sampling of some of the shapes that can be purchased on EBay. I typed “sticker chalkboard” into the search field. Again, this is a very small percentage of the hundreds of shapes available, but it will give you an idea of the breadth of designs…
Gotta love the zombie one.
My next step, after I received the thing and stuck it to my wall, was to look around online for some design samples. Since it was late January at the time, I searched up “Valentines Chalkboard” and probably “Valentines Hand Lettering” and found this sweet one…
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pull off an exact duplicate of the design, but did manage to make a pretty respectable version thereof…
So the original is much prettier than mine, but I thought it came out OK for a first try. The next one that I did was for Easter, and also copied from a design I found on Pinterest. Here is the one I found, (which is available for purchase in notecard form here ) followed by a picture of the one I made…
I’ve become obsessive about researching designs on Pinterest for my little chalkboard to the point that my “Chalkboard Designs” just might be the largest of all of my boards. You can see the whole thing here but here’s a sample of what I’m talking about
I know – “YIKES!”. But aren’t they all so preeeeeeety??? I want to copy each and every one of them. 🙂
If you’re thinking of giving chalkboard lettering a whirl, I highly recommend looking at the examples that I pinned, and then search “chalkboard designs” on Pinterest and find some of your own. If you study them a bit, you’ll notice a few common design elements that will help you to get the look of old timey hand lettering. Here is my extremely uneducated, but works-for-me, opinion.
- Vary your fonts. Use some printing, some script. Add serifs to some words.
- Vary your word sizes. Some of your words can be super big (for emphasis) while others can be teeny tiny.
- Vary your letter sizes within the word. Write words with progressively smaller (or larger) letters, all aligned at either the top or the bottom.
- Make your words “move” by giving them a directional flow. Make your words go uphill or downhill, or form an arc. You can even write them on the vertical if possible.
- Add a little easy calligraphy by thickening all of the lines made in a downward motion. So If you were writing the letter “S” like in the word Spring above, you would thicken the part of the letter that you write in a downward motion – the middle part of the “S”. The little curl at the top and the curl at the bottom are drawn on an upward swing, so they would stay relatively skinny.
- Add “shadows”. Using a different color, add an outline on one side of your letters as though the sun were shining from that direction. It gives your letters dimension and makes them look more “artsy”.
- A few Curly Qs and flourishes go a long way. Add them to any empty spots left after you finish your lettering.
- Copy, copy, copy. I file this under “Fake it until you make it”. Once you get handy with copying other designs, your own designs (or modified designs) will start to come.
A few other ideas that will help out from a more practical standpoint.
- Sketch your idea out on paper before you start.
- While you work, you will want to have a wet paper towel and some q-tips handy to act as “erasers”.
- Start with a clean dry chalkboard.
- Use only chalkboard chalk. Pastels contain oil which will be near impossible to remove from your board.
- Before writing any words, lightly draw lines for your words to sit on. Use a ruler where you can or stand back and “eyeball” curves as you go. When you’re done with this step, you will have a good outline of your completed project.
- Lightly sketch your words onto your lines. Make adjustments as needed.
- Now comes the fun part. Go back and fill in your final design. Erase words, a few letters at a time, and replace them with your best work. Don’t forget to also erase the lines that your words are standing on – unless you are leaving them as part of your design.
- Notice how your chalk has some thinner and thicker edges and use what you need in the appropriate place. I like to have a few different sticks of the same color going at once so that I can get the edge that I need. If you find that you wish you could “sharpen” your chalk, find a blank spot on your chalkboard and scribble back and forth until you get the edge you are looking for. Then use your wet paper towel to clean up your scribbles.
- Expect to erase and redo letters, words or whole sections of your design. A LOT. Its the beauty of working with chalk – nothing is permanent, so its really easy to try, try again until it looks the way you want it to.
- Once you’re done, photograph and share. Then throw some orange traffic cones in front of it. I’ve got lots of stories of people rubbing up against and smearing a design. Once my husband was throwing a ball to the dog and clipped the board about an hour after I had finished it. So traffic cones, a no-fly zone, death threats – whatever works for you would be supported 100% by me.
That’s all I can think of right now. Next time I make a new design, I’ll photograph it every step of the way and add it here to better illustrate my tips. Until then, here are some more designs that I made earlier this year. The latest design that’s on display right now, is the back-to-school board that is pictured at the top of this post.
Made this when my niece came to stay with us for a few days
This was for (shockingly), my boys’ first communion party
And finally, for the end of the school year. When Summer started and I was a full time mom once again, I just recycled this board by erasing the word “Summer” and replacing it with “Moxie” (before our trip to Moxie, Maine), then replacing that with “Winnipesaukee”, when we went to Lake Winnipesaukee later in the summer.
The next board design will most likely be for Halloween, my hands down favorite of all holidays. Cant wait!