Well it finally happened. The wedding is past, the pictures have been shared, and now I have many DIY projects to share with you! First up: Chalkboard art.
Chalkboards at weddings are nothing new, they’ve become quite a popular way to decorate and/or give directions. But I’m not just talking about writing on chalkboards, I’m talking chalkboard art. With the help of my father and his jigsaw, we collected and spray-painted about 12 old frames from Goodwill/Flea markets/garage sales, cut a lightweight board to fit, and painted it with black chalkboard paint. Voila, classy chalkboards.
I will fully admit, this artwork became my little obsession, a detail I spent a lot of time on without really knowing if anyone would notice. Well, they did. One of our guests even asked if this was my business (No, but it should be).
So how can you get the same look? Start with the basic supplies, including a chalkboard (either store bought or DIY with chalkboard paint), a supply of white and/or colored chalk (this brand worked well), Q-tips and a rag (I used a cut up t-shirt), hair spray and pencil sharpener (yes, you can sharpen chalk so long as it fits in your sharpener. This dual hole sharpener works beautifully for chalk and pencils).
No matter where the chalkboard came from, the first step is to condition the board. This quick step will help your drawn lines be more erasable, like chalk should be, rather than permanent imprints. To do this, simply cover the surface of your board using the side of a piece of chalk. Once covered, use your rag to erase. Now it’s primed and ready to go.
Before my chalk ever touches the board, I like to have a plan of what it will look like. This will save a lot of time later if you already have the design mapped out. In this case, I’m making a sign for my friend’s wedding, and came up with several thumbnails of design options. I have the chosen thumbnail by my side as I begin.
For a full tutorial on chalkboard art, I’d recommend this video tutorial by Lauren Hom (Get a free month of Skillshare here). Before any letters go on your board, take the time to sketch out your spacing. Draw your guidelines, lightly sketch in letters. This is particularly important if you’re doing things on a curve like I am here. This is a bit more of a challenging design and may not be the best choice for a first time.
Once letters are looking good, go over them again with some applied pressure, adding weight and color to your lines. Make a mistake? Clean up edges with a Q-tip.
When you’re happy with your letters, have added your flourishes, and cleaned up your mistakes, you will probably notice two things. 1) This still looks messy with a lot of chalk dust residue everywhere and 2) All this hard work could be for nothing with an accidental rub of a hand. Both of these problems will be solved with our secret power tool: hairspray. Hairspray (I use the cheapest brand available at Walmart) will act as a temporary fixative, meaning after treating your board with it, an errant hand or shirtsleeve won’t budge your artwork. It’s a temporary fixative because the chalkboard can still be erased, a wet cloth and some elbow grease will remove your artwork, and the board will be ready to go for your next wedding. As an added bonus, and don’t ask me how it does this, hairspray will also help clean up your board so that the dusty background becomes a clean black again. Check out the before and after hairspray photos below.
Go ahead and spray your board enough so that it looks damp and allow to air dry. Note that the hairspray treatment sometimes takes away the intensity of your chalk, particularly with colored chalk. This can be solved by quickly going over your lines with appropriate chalk, and lightly misting again with hairspray to fix.
Check out the finished product at M&D’s wedding. The “soon to be wed” sign was put on the bike pre-ceremony with programs in the basket.
For the reception, we switched out the “soon to be wed” sign for my “just married” sign. Cards for the couple were put in the basket. A great way to utilize her beloved bike!