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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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Debi Sementelli, Guest @ 4:20 pm

    You can also create chalkboard signs on the computer by creating with a “fake” chalkboard background then using hand lettered fonts in white with the wording. Print them on 8.5 x 11 paper or have it enlarged at Kinko’s and put in a frame. I’ve created some free printables on my blog that anyone can download and print.

    Yours look great!

    Debi

  2. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 5:24 pm

    Your blackboards look wonderful, and I love the quote ones so much!

  3. Member
    painauchocolat 2298 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:39 pm

    Chalk ink pens – so that’s how you keep it neat and from smudging later! I’m a lefty too so I know the handwriting saga all too well.

  4. Member
    manatee 31 posts, Newbee @ 5:59 pm

    This turned out so nice! Could you tell me how you transcribed the letters? I also have really terrible handwriting…. Did you trace it somehow? I had given up on the idea of chalkboards because of my abysmal handwriting

  5. Member
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 6:05 pm

    #5 is a great tip! your handwriting looks great.

  6. Member
    panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:13 pm

    I think I might be a little slow. how do you take your digital template and make it a reality? did you just eyeball it? because it’s really nicely done

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Debi Sementelli, Guest @ 6:29 pm

    If I might make suggestion for those who are concerned about their hand writing. You can create the layout on the computer using a combination of fonts you like. Have it enlarged to the size you want at kinko’s. Then use white transfer paper to trace the letters onto the board. Then just go over the words with a chalk marker.

  8. Member
    bracelet 1419 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:31 pm

    Very nice!

  9. Member
    MissMaryPat 40 posts, Newbee @ 10:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks! I would have bought the spray paint and regular chalk, haha. We’re planning to do a chalkboard program since our ceremony is only going to last about 15 minutes. Thanks again for sharing. Can’t wait to see more photos!

  10. Member
    lovelyduckie 756 posts, Busy bee @ 6:31 am

    I’m considering using chalkboard contact paper for the Mason Mugs but I’m a bit concerned about my terrible handwriting. I may do something different with printed labels.

  11. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:34 am

    Those look amazing! I can’t wait to see the rest of the pics!

  12. Member
    josina 687 posts, Busy bee @ 10:19 am

    I made my own chalkboards as well using vintage windows and tin trays and they turned out great… I did however forego using the chalk marker I bought since it does not erase (mine didn’t at least). I stuck with plain old chalk and it allowed me to screw up as many times as I wanted/needed. :) Your’s look great!

  13. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 10:43 am

    These are so freaking awesome! I’m super impressed.

  14. Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:37 pm

    This turned out amazing, I love the andwriting in both.

  15. Member
    mswallaby 2059 posts, Buzzing bee @ 9:12 pm

    @Debi Sementelli: that’s a great tip! I hadn’t heard of that!
    @Mrs. Pain au Chocolat: So, so true girl. I loved those chalk ink pens.
    @Miss Manatee: Lol I totally understand, I was in the same boat! I typed up the words I wanted to write in Microsoft Word, and just eyeballed it. But what helped A LOt was using a ruler to make sure I wrote in a straight line, and also being able to erase… Believe me, I messed up tons of times! But hopefully I erased it wel enough that you can’t tell!
    @Miss Panda: Thanks! Yup, just eyeballed it. The more I wrote, the more comfortable I got. I saved the most important blackboards for last so I’d had a lot of practice by the time I got to them.
    @MissMaryPat: I love chalkboard programs! I pinned dozens of photos of them while I was planning out the chalkboards to get some inspiration, PM me if you want me to send you a link to my pinboard.
    @lovelyduckie: Don’t worry too much about your handwriting! I think the handwritten mason jar labels look so charming!! Or you could recruit a family member or friend to help with that, shouldn’t be too labor-intensive.
    @Josina: cool, glad the regular chalk worked out for you! I bet yours were beautiful!

  16. Member
    Red Poppy 19 posts, Newbee @ 6:57 am

    Your handwriting is amazing! (The menu sounds awesome too!)

  17. Member
    charm99 48 posts, Newbee @ 6:08 pm

    how did you transcribe the letters on there? I am using the same bombshell font to do my wedding and could really use advice on how to transfer the letters to my wood? Great job

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