How To Letter a Chalkboard Like an Artist

Chalkboard art
Thepaperco/ Twenty20

Decorating with chalkboard crafts has been all the rage for the last few years.  It's possible to paint almost anything with chalkboard paint.  You can even find chalkboard spray paint at most hardware stores, making it easy to transform objects like mugs, vases, globes, cutting boards, trays and pictures into writeable surfaces displaying notes, messages, quotations, and sayings.  Even whole walls can be painted with chalkboard paint, transforming them into calendars, family message boards, or a shared canvas for artwork.

It's true that almost anything can have a chalkboard surface; however, this article will focus on what has come to be known as "chalk art," those beautifully-lettered signs that use a variety of fonts and symbols.  Have you ever wondered how people create those perfectly-written signs?  Trust me, they aren't freehanding it.  Here's how it's done:

  1. After choosing the words, saying, or quotation you want your chalk art to have, use a computer to type it out using a variety of fonts and dingbats.  Carrie Loves, Nest of Posies, and Recipes from Stephanie have all put together lists of free fonts and dingbats perfect for chalk art.
  2. Choose a mixture of script, serif and non-serif fonts for the best effect; however, don't go font-crazy.  Stick to three or four for a more cohesive look until you get the hang of it.  Once you get the hang of what looks best, it can be fun to get more adventurous with a wider variety of fonts.
  1. Insert dingbats for small words such as "of," "the," "and," etc.  Play around with the placement of borders, scrolls, corners and banners.
  2. When you are happy with your chalk art, print out your saying to the scale of your project.
  3. Before moving on, make sure your chalkboard is seasoned.  To season your chalkboard, rub the entire surface with the side of a piece of chalk, then erase it.  This way, when you want to change your saying in favor of a new one someday, the image will completely erase.  If you skip seasoning your chalkboard, you will likely see a black outline of whatever was once there.
  1. Next, transfer an outline of your words to your project using the transfer technique.  Rub chalk all over the back of the printout, lay the printout right-side up on your project, then trace the words with a pen or pencil.  This will transfer the outline of your chalk art to your chalkboard surface.
  2. As you work, use an inexpensive sharpener to hone your chalk frequently.
  3. Now, trace your faint outline with a heavier hand.  Dip the tip of chalk in water before tracing. Keep the tip moistened as you go.  The lines may look faint at first, but they will whiten up nicely when dry.
  4. Keep a moistened rag or Q-tip handy for any mistakes you need to wipe away.
  5. When you are finished, lightly spray your chalkboard art with hairspray from an aerosol can if you are worried about it getting smudged.  Don't worry: this will wipe off with water when you clean your chalkboard the next time.

For some inspiring chalk art ideas, check out the projects done by these bloggers: