DIY Blackboards

As the wedding got closer, I started to spend much more time thinking about the small details of the wedding: Did I buy enough cocktail napkins for the bar? Would people get lost on the way to the venue? How would people know what to do with our postcard guestbook? One Saturday, I set aside all of the crafts and sat down to make a list of all of the signs and decorations that I’d like to finish before the wedding. The list probably looked like chicken scratch to anyone else—even Mr. Wallaby—but I felt so. much. better. once I’d organized my ideas on paper. A big project that was at the back of my mind was making chalkboard signs in lieu of paper hand-outs—I am in love with the concept of chalkboard programs, chalkboard menus, etc.

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A beautiful illustrated chalkboard menu. Photo by A Girl in Love Photography.

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A whimsical chalkboard “program”—at an eco-chic Texas wedding, no less! Photo by The Nichols / Image via Green Wedding Shoes.

If you have a big budget for decorations, I’m sure you can buy pre-made chalkboards, but that wasn’t really an option for us. I collected old picture frames at thrift stores, and I finally set to work transforming the frames into blackboards. Some of the frames did not come with backings, so I bought a sheet of plywood at Lowe’s and asked someone there to cut the wood down to the dimensions needed for my frames. While I was at Lowe’s, I also picked up a quart of Valspar chalkboard interior paint, since I’ve read some negative reviews of the chalkboard spray paint.

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Valspar chalkboard paint from Lowe’s. Personal photo.

I laid out an old sheet in the backyard and spray painted each frame gold. (I found that a lot of the actual gold frames at thrift stores were pretty expensive, so I bought a lot of cheap plain wood frames and painted them myself.) I then painted the backing of each frame with several coats of chalkboard paint. By the time I was done, I just about passed out from heat fatigue. Texas summers are hot, people!

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DIY chalkboards in progress. Personal photo.

Once everything had dried, I re-assembled the frames. Here are a couple of the final chalkboards:

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A completed chalkboard. Personal photo.

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Another completed chalkboard. Personal photo.

I had a lot of pieces of leftover plywood that are about the same size as the chalkboards, so I decided to give those a coat of chalkboard paint and turn them into signs as well. The framed chalkboards will be used for the “main signs”—menu, program, day-of schedule—and I’ll write other little notes and quotes about love on the unframed signs.

I’ve read that it takes a long time to write out messages on chalkboards (especially for all you perfectionists out there!), so I knew I needed to get a head start on this. I have terrible handwriting, so with the help of Microsoft Word, I created a visual template using Emily Lime’s bombshell pro font. With the template created, I sat at Mr. Wallaby’s desk with the chalkboard in my lap, doing my best to transcribe the pretty letters onto the chalkboard. Here’s the beginnings of my first sign:

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A chalkboard sign in progress. Personal photo.

And a completed chalkboard menu:

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Le menu for our BBQ reception. Personal photo.

I’ll have more photos of the signs when we get our pro pics back—but I do have to chime in with other blogger bees and warn you that this is a fairly time intensive project. Here are some tips from my experience:

1) Do some research about chalkboard paint. I was really pleased with the Valspar paint that I bought—the paint went on very smoothly, and in a couple coats, all of the surfaces I painted looked smooth and chalkboard-y.

2) Real chalk is very messy and smudges easily. I’m left-handed, and everything seems to smudge when I write with ink—but even I didn’t make a single smudge with the chalk ink pens that I bought for this project. I purchased a four-pack of Chalk Ink wet wipe markers from Michaels, and these have been working like a charm.

3) As with any DIY project, keep in mind that DIY chalkboards do require several supplies that cost money. I had to purchase the frames, plywood, gold spray paint, chalkboard paint, and chalk pens, and I would estimate each chalkboard cost ~$15.

4) Look for frames at thrift stores—you really will save a lot of money buying used frames. I looked into buying frames at Michaels using 50% coupons, but even with the coupons, the large frames would’ve costed at least $15 to $20. The thrift store frames sure were ugly when I brought them home, but with gold and chalkboard paint, they look much more wedding-ready :)

5) If you’re overwhelmed with all of the chalkboard inspiration photos out there, choose one design that you like, choose one (or several) fonts, and do a mock-up of each sign in Microsoft Word. This really helped give me some confidence once I had a chalk ink pen in my hand. I’ve read that the chalk ink can be tough to erase, so I wanted to be exceedingly careful so I didn’t have to repaint the chalkboard surfaces.

Happy crafting! I can’t wait to share the final photos with ya’ll.

Is anyone else making DIY chalkboards for their wedding? Do you have any other tips for creating signs?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Wallaby

Location:
Houston
Wedding Date:
November 2012

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