Sunday, April 03, 2011

Easiest Chalkboard Tutorial Ever

I've wanted a nice big blackboard for years now, ever since I saw some forever ago in the Ballard Designs catalog. I even have a frame somewhere I was going to use for it, but it's literally just a frame, no backing or anything. Plus I'm not sure where it is .

I've been seeing tons of cool blackboards and blackboard-painted objects on Pinterest lately, so I thought I'd make a Goodwill excursion and try to find a good-sized frame for cheap. But the other night as I was drifting off to sleep, it occured to me that there's a big stack of old windows in the tobacco barn that I could use for free. Done and done!

Most of the tutorials on the web tell you to to mix something into your paint if you're going to use it for a chalkboard, but I remembered seeing a fabulous, enormous yellow chalkboard in an old issue of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. The article said you could use any color of regular matte or satin (I think) latex paint, just not gloss, which seemed like a wonderful idea.

To experiment, I used a small wooden box I'd been meaning to paint anyway, and some navy blue craft acrylic I'd bought on clearance for 50 cents. It worked perfectly once the paint dried and I tried writing on it with chalk. More importantly, it erased, too. OK then.

I went out to the barn, selected a window, knocked off the spiders, cleaned off the dirt, and brought it inside to paint. I just used regular black acrylic craft paint, mixed with a little brown and navy blue so the black wouldn't be so stark, and thinned it slightly with some water. The water wasn't strictly necessary, since a couple of spots needed two coats, but really the paint covered the glass very well. I didn't prime the glass in any way beforehand, so it may flake off at some point, but that's no big deal since it'll be easy enough to touch up.

I think for this the cheaper the paint the better, since you want it to be flat and chalky. The MEHC article suggested rubbing the painted surface lightly with chalk first, and mine did seem to work better after I'd drawn on it and erased it a few times. So, here are my instructions:

  1. Find the space or object you want to turn into a chalkboard. (Window, wall, door, flowerpot, wooden object, piece of masonite or foamcore to fit in a frame, etc.) You could try something smooth like glass or ceramic (a jar or a mug), but I don't know how well it would hold up. You'd want to be careful washing it.

  2. Clean and/or sand as necessary, making sure surface is grease- or residue-free.

  3. Paint with acrylic craft paint, any color you like. Let dry. Add another coat if needed.

That's it!

The weather is finally pretending to be springlike, complete with thunderstorms and tornado watches, and the flowers seem to agree. The trees, however, are having no part of it. None of them have any leaves yet except the willow, and they don't look in any hurry to produce any. Oh well, at least there's daffodils. I bought these bulbs a few years ago, and the package claimed they had pink centers. The first year or two they were a little peach-tinted, if you used your imagination, but now, obviously, they're just yellow. Still pretty though, and they bloom late, so they make the daffodil season last longer.

And the peach trees are blooming now!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Postcards Are Mailed!

I actually finished my postcards for iHannah's postcard swap a couple of days ago (when it was still March, amazingly), but didn't get them sent out until this morning. Still, I'm nearly a week early for the deadline, and they're off into the world, 2 to the Netherlands, 1 to Sweden, 1 to Norway, 1 to Canada, and the rest to various places in the US. I've posted pictures of the individual cards at the DIY Postcard Swap Pool on Flickr.

I hope the recipients like them, because I'm actually pretty pleased with the way they turned out. It was an unusually painless process for me, since I usually stress and obsess way more than necessary over anything I do that people are going to see.

Plus, I finally got to experiment with the rub-on film I bought lord knows how long ago. It can be run through a printer or stamped or drawn on, then used as a regular rub-on. The little flourish above was drawn with a metallic gold colored pencil, which didn't turn out as metallic once it was applied, but otherwise came out well.

The eggs on the card above were done with a stamp I carved, then stamped onto the film and applied. I carved the wren stamp, too, but just stamped it directly on the card. You can see how the film changed the color of the ink slightly, which is fine.

I could have stamped or drawn the eggs and the flourish directly on the cards, but it's good to see how the rub-on film worked, which was really very well. I think it would be better to use for computer images, or on non-flat surfaces where you couldn't conveniently draw or stamp. I don't know how well it would hold up on hard surfaces like glass or ceramics. Maybe if it were sealed with some sort of topcoat.... Fun stuff to play with, though.