Friday, October 19, 2012

10 things you should know about chalkboard art


My first chalkboard art

Yesterday I did my first chalkboard art project for my new office, and while mine cannot be compared to some of the gorgeous chalk art I’ve been seeing everywhere, I did learn a few things along the way that might help you. Here it goes.

Ten things I learned

1. Who is Dana Tanamachi?

First of all, before you pick up a piece of chalk you should know this name. Dana is probably the most famous chalkboard artist out there right now and gazing at her fonts and her fabulous works will give you some wonderful inspiration.


via Design Sponge

I watched a time-lapsed video of Dana completing this project and I learned one thing loud and clear:


via: Design Sponge

2. Completely sketch out your words before you begin.

This is so important. Make sure you get that last letter in place so you know there’s room. I originally wrote a long quote from Anne Frank that came out great. I was actually pleased with the different fonts I used until I realized there was no room for Anne Frank’s name at the end. Which gave the quote it’s entire power.

So I erased it all and began again. All that work and time, gone.


3. Download free ornamental fonts


Diane from in my own has a post offering great DIY tips and fonts at How to Draw Like an Artist on a Chalkboard that I read before I began my project.

4. Consider using a overhead projector if you have one.

This is one way to create to create a masterpiece on your chalkboard. Here’s a perfect Halloween example.


Beth at Unskinny shows you how.

But what if you don’t have an overhead projector for your fancy phase?

5. I learned that you can use a grid like this one.



In fact, if I had done this with my Anne Frank quote it would have worked. Amanda, a stylist at Burlap and Denim has a great tutorial on using a grid to map out your words. You should visit this site for her tips.

6. Use regular old chalk.

Nothing fancy. I know this sounds like a no-brainer but I actually tried using the Chalk pens they use at Starbucks, and I couldn’t get my board clean again. I had to paint over it. In an interview I stumbled on, Dana said she gets her chalk at the dollar store.


7. Use water and rags to completely erase chalk lines.

These are the basic items you need. I used the hair spray tip from Amanda @ Burlap and Denim although Dana is on record saying she doesn’t use any fixative over her professional work (read the great discontent interview). 

Here’s one important tip I’ll stress: remember to erase your old chalk lines completely with a wet rag before writing again.


I grabbed my chalk and started drawing my typewriter free-hand before I realized my previous words were not completed gone. Can you see the word “Think” behind the paper?


8. Q-tips are your best friend when using chalk


This tip is so simple. This is how you get clean lines.

9. You don’t need to soak your chalk in 7-up before using


I read online somewhere that some chalkboard artists soak their chalk in 7-Up before using so the color is more vibrant. This is what happened when I did that. Look at the letter K. The chalk fell apart when I pressed hard. Maybe I soaked it too long, but it didn’t work for me.

10. If you’re going to sketch free-hand have your computer fonts close by.


I didn’t realize that writing a long word would be so time-consuming. I had to try a few fonts to make it fit on my chalkboard. I finally searched my computer fonts and found one that would work; I used this screen as my guide while I wrote.



Well, those were my ten tips, I hope they help. And I hope this post inspires you to pick up a piece of chalk and just go for it. It’s not about perfection, surrounding yourself with words you’ve carefully selected and art you’ve made yourself …is a joyful expression of YOU! Have fun with it.

Let me know how it turns out. I love to hear from you!



I’m linking up here, please join me:







Vanessa said...

Hi, Lesile

What a great idea and I really enjoyed reading this post. I now know how people write on chalk board and I will be doing this to mine.

Have a great weekend.


Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

Thanks for the tips! the typewriter came out great

Liberty said...

just painted the top of a desk with chalkboard paint and would love to work on more artistic stuff - I think I'll use those fonts and print a few words to try!

Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} said...

Well, I'm certainly glad you learned all the ropes, so we don't have to! So many projects, so little time!

One More Time Events said...

That came out great! Great Tutorial.

ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

Great tips! Your chalkboard looks great, love the typewriter! I'm lovin the look of the whole gallery wall. Can't wait to see the whole thing!

Debra@CommonGround said...

Leslie, you did a wonderful job, and thanks for all the tips, I love your piece, but I'm just chicken!

Sew a Fine Seam said...

Leslie! I am just so overwhelmingly thankful that you posted a comment on my blog yesterday!!!! I always pop over to blogs of people who comment and I SO needed this post today! I just finished painting an old picture with chalkboard paint to use as a chalkboard. So now I'm ready to do MY first piece of chalk art! ANd your tips are just great - couldn't have come at a better time! I'm following you now too - not going to chance missing out on any other great tips you have to offer!
thanks again, SO much!

Katie Drane said...

Awesome advice! I'm so glad that I'm following you, love your blog:)


Anita at Cedar Hill said...

Oh wow, your chalkboard art is lovely and I'm very impressed. If I ever tackle this project, I'm coming here to remind myself of your tips.

Richella Parham said...

Your typewriter is just beautiful! Thank you for assembling all these tips. I have a few chalkboards and would like to try something a little more than just writing--I'll use your post as a guide!

Beth said...

Great roundup of tips! Thanks so much for including my Halloween art! :) Tracing is so much easier than hand-lettering.

Sarah said...

Haven't had a chalk board since I left the classroom. '-)
Thanks for sharing these tips though, because I think another chalk board is in my future......a home chalk board. ~ Sarah

Crystal said...

I am wondering the best place to find printables to use on a projector!! Most printables I am finding, already have the black chalkboard background, and I can't put them on a transparency.

Unknown said...

So happy I came across this post, Thankyou.

Unknown said...

Hi Gwen, love your blog,especially the above article on chalkboards. I have a question, I've just painted my first chalkboard and the instructions said to use 3 coats but after 1 coat it looks fine. Is there any reason why 3 are needed or is just 1 ok? I'd appreciate any advice. From a new Aussie blogger

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