Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.: Chalkboard Paint & Lettering Tutorial

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chalkboard Paint & Lettering Tutorial

Hey folks,

I've been quite busy between work, life and a bunch of little things.  For now I've got my blog set up to match my Twitter and Etsy feel.  I've been writing down all the ideas I've had for posts and organizing them for future reference and I'm excited to see things come together as I work on some new projects and revamping things.

Here's the long promised chalkboard paint/paint lettering tutorial.  Plus at the end there's a review of a great Pinterest recipe!  Ready?  Here goes!

Chalkboard Paint & Hand Lettering Tutorial




So we started out with all the items in this picture:
-Elmer's chalkboard paint, (the small tub paints up to an 8sq ft section in one coat if I remember right.  This is the same tub I used mixed with a touch of white acrylic paint to make the chalkboard tray/announcement board for my wedding, so it lasts quite well.)
-a paper plate for use as a paint palette
-painters tape to help with edging
-scissors to trim down the printed page of letting you want to put on your piece
-a cup of water for rinsing your brush in between coats of paint so it won't get ruined, I recommend a plastic cup you don't mind having a bit of paint left on after you work, so that it becomes a dedicated painting/rinsing cup.
-a ruler in case you want to measure your object to know where you will place the lettering (I do a lot of eyeballing for placement, but only because I've had a lot of experience with making something like lettering look centered properly. I still use rulers plenty too!)
-a simple paintbrush that's larger for the chalkboard paint 1/2 inch-2 inch size as you prefer
-a good paintbrush that's smaller for the detailed lettering, size 2-6 in flat or round as you prefer
-any color of acrylic paint you would like to use for your lettering, I have two bottles shown in the picture, one is inexpensive craft paint and the other is a great textured paint by Golden.  I ended up using the Golden paint for my lettering.
-an object you want to paint, with a finish that will take the paint - something somewhat porous, not too slick that paint will slide or wipe off.  If the finish isn't properly absorbent you may need to buy a different kind of paint, surfaces like glass or metal would be a problem this way, additionally I don't recommend them for the lettering transfer technique because the graphite won't stick.
-and not shown, you will also probably want a piece of sandpaper or an emery board to finish the edges  of the paint next to where the tape was to smooth them perfectly.


Step 1.

Tape the sides of the board since you want to keep the chalkboard surface on just the one face of the object.  If you don't want to try to put the tape perfectly even along the sides leave just a bit sticking up.  You can see where I've done this, especially at the handle where the light shines through the tape a bit.  As you put on the tape try to rub it down onto the surface thoroughly to keep the paint from seeping under the tape as much as possible.  I tend to rub it enough to make it warm as a rule of thumb.  Some people refer to this as burnishing it to hold it down properly.  Be sure you know how long your painters tape is graded for.  If you leave it on past the amount of time it's graded for you will be much more likely to pull the paint off your finished work.  I usually get the 2 week tape for projects like this, though they make longer and shorter holding tape too.


Step 2.

Put some paint on your plate, use less than I did here....I wasted more than I meant to since I wasn't sure how much to use for the first coat.  You can always put more on the plate if you need to, but you really shouldn't try to put partially used paint back into the container if you have leftovers.  It will leave horrible clumpy bits and keep your paint from looking smooth as you apply it later.  Then use the big paintbrush to apply the paint.  This picture shows a very uneven coat and a half.  The chalkboard paint can be applied with a bit of a heavy hand, but of course will take longer to dry.  It's water based and easy to clean up.  I tried to go with the grain of the wood on the paddle, though in the cup divots I went in circles, and those areas didn't take paint as easily and I ended up doing a total of 4 coats of chalkboard paint, applying two the first day I worked and another two a different day.
 You can see the difference here after two coats!  Much nicer already.


Step 3.

Between coats you can begin prepping the lettering for transfer.  First make sure you know the size you'll need to print the lettering at.  Then select a good typeface, figure out what size and style font you want (bold, italics, etc), and then print it off in solid black ink.  Hold it up to your object and make sure it's the right size.  If so you're ready to apply some graphite to the back of your printed letters.  If you have it available use a nice soft pencil, I chose a 6B, but most regular pencils will do.  The harder the type of lead the lighter the grey color will be for you to paint over/within the lines of.  Use the side of the pencil only, no point, and give a good coating as I was working on in the picture.  Then set it aside for later.


Step 4.

After you're done painting and the paint has had a full day to dry you can gently pull the tape off.  You'll probably notice some bits of paint that dried sticking up because they attached to the tape or areas that the paint seeped down under the tape.  By the time you take the tape off you'll probably feel like it ended up being a messier job that you thought, but this is where the sandpaper of emery board comes in.  Sand the surface just enough to take off the excess paint.  If you want a antiqued look you can continue and it will soften the edges, which might be perfect for a shabby chic style piece.  Here's a bit of my messiness:


Step 5.

Next trim your lettering as close to the edge of the word or phrase as you can.  Measure its height and width if you want to line it up perfectly on your object.  Then measure your object and add any measurement lines you might need to keep the lettering straight on your object. Use a soft pencil along with the ruler and a the measurements to guide you.  Don't press down much with the pencil or you won't be able to erase it later, and may leave imprints in a wood surface.   Then use at least 2 pieces of painters tape to tape your letters in place.  If there's lettering underneath the tape be sure to trace the edges on top of the tape before starting the next step.


Step 6.

Go over all the printed parts with a pencil or wood/plastic stylus to rub the graphite from the back of the paper onto the surface of your object.  Be firm, but remember if you go too crazy you might leave indentations.  This picture shows part of the G and R.  I only traced the edges of the parts under the tape.  You'll have to be very careful with that part and may want to go over the line a couple of times to make it look straighter.  You can also see the measuring line I used to help line things up correctly.

Step 7.

When you've gone over all the lettering (Or any design you choose, this isn't limited to lettering if you want to get creative.) carefully peel up the tape at one end of the transfer and check to see how well it copied.  If you're happy with it take off the entire transfer paper and go ahead and paint over your graphite design.  If you feel unsure of how to do this correctly, do a small test design beforehand.

Step 8.

When painting your design using at least two coats is recommended.  You can see the difference here between what one and two coats looks like.  I did 2 coats plus a bit of touch up at the edges on my lettering.  Please note if you are using a light color your first layer will probably pick up a bit of the graphite.  If so don't worry too much, you may need to do an extra coat of paint to get good coverage, but the subsequent coats will not pick up the graphite because they will be trapped within the first layer.  Acrylic paints are water based, but use plastic as a component.  So when they are fully dried you shouldn't be able to dissolve coats of paint you applied earlier or any graphite that may be stuck in them.  If you do encounter this I suggest switching brands to see if it helps.

The Finished Project - Beer Tasting Paddle

Once your lettering or design dries overnight you should be ready to go!  The resulting surface will not be dishwasher safe, you'll want to carefully hand wash it or use a damp cloth to wipe it down as needed.  Here's my finished paddle, the chalk lettering is a bit harder to make out because I could only find a big hunk of sidewalk chalk.  Classroom chalk is much more legible, so I recommend that if possible, I just used what I could find easily around the house.

If you test this tutorial out please feel free to share your results in the comments!  I'm happy to help with any questions you might have too.

I think this would be a great way to customize bridal party presents, a special birthday surprise, or a family plaque, plus a host of other types of items.


So the Pinterest recipe I tried this time around is one for Hawaiian style BBQ chicken.  You can find instructions for it here.  I followed the instructions, substituting Sweet Baby Ray's Hawaiian BBQ sauce for the Archer Farms one and using 5 chicken breasts.  I also accidentally poured in a bit of pineapple juice when I almost forgot to drain the can, maybe a couple tablespoons worth.  I felt that my crock pot wasn't cooking quite as fast as hoped for after two hours on low because the chicken towards the top was still mostly frozen.  I then put it on high and 3 hours later (5 hours total cooking) it was done.  I served this to my husband and two of his brothers when they came for dinner earlier this week and it was a unanimous hit!  We served the chicken shredded like pulled pork on Hawaiian style buns with sides of corn and Caesar salad, and it was fantastic!  I think next time I might try adding a couple more chicken breasts and cooking longer, so I'll have leftovers.  There seemed to be enough sauce for 6-8 pieces of chicken, and plenty of pineapple, I think we still had 2/3 left afterwards, though most of us liked it with less pineapple overall.  With a little extra sauce I think this could work for 9-12 pieces of chicken, or more depending on your crock pot size, our model is a 5 quart one.  Here's a shot of the finished product, (one of the guys decided to add lettuce to his):


Hope you all are having a great weekend, and I'll see you again soon!

Love, Lydia

1 comment:

  1. I do like this background and vertical banner. Is that new?

    I am eager to try this Hawaiian BBQ Chicken sandwich, it looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete