Chalk it up to a great Easter

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you are having a lovely day with your family celebrating that Christ has risen!

I have an Easter gift for all of you: back in this post, I promised a chalkboard tutorial. I’m so happy to finally follow through…and with a special Easter chalkboard too!

I’m going to walk you through my chalkboard art process step-by-step…but I’m certainly not an expert, and there are so many other great blogs and websites out there with lots of tips as well (they have taught me a lot). I’ll be sure to share links to those wonderful places along the way so you can learn from them as well!

Step One: Inspiration

In yesterday’s post, I carefully combed through Pinterest to gather some inspiring spring-themed chalkboard art. Occasionally, I create my own design from scratch, but I find that my end result is typically better if I use some high quality work as a guide. I’m hoping practice will help me “freehand” more of my chalkboard art in the future, but in the meantime, I love attempting to recreate beautiful things I find on Pinterest! At the last minute, we got the chance to host Easter brunch at our house (so much fun), so I ended up going with a more Easter-specific design than what I was looking at before. Here’s the picture I ended up selecting:

Easter Chalkboard Printable wWatermark

I got the graphic from an adorable blog called Hymns and Verses. You can download a free printable of the picture (without the watermark) here! At that point, you can either stick yours in a frame and be done (no judgment here), or you can continue reading (yes, yes, yes!) to make it into your very own chalkboard.

Step Two: Board Prep

Our chalkboard was actually a DIY project in and of itself. It used to be a huge mirror that sat on the floor of our dining room. However, Denali was always barking at the “other dog” she would find in the room every time she walked by. Although this yielded endless entertainment for us, we decided we would put a stop to Denali’s terror of no longer being an only child (poor thing) and re-purpose that mirror.

I’m not gonna lie — when Mike suggested painting the mirror to turn it into a chalkboard, I was pretty skeptical. I just couldn’t imagine the paint actually sticking to the glass; I assumed it would flake off and look horrible. I was wrong! All it took was a solid coat of primer and a couple coats of chalkboard paint, and nobody would ever know this baby ever reflected a single thing.

But I digress. My point is, I was very concerned about chalkboard care because I loved our new chalkboard an awful lot and certainly didn’t want it to turn into a flaky mess. After doing some research, I discovered that two important aspects of board upkeep:

  1. When you’re using a fresh chalkboard, it’s important to prepare the surface by turning your chalk on its side and rubbing it all over to “season” the surface. Skipping this step means that, as you draw out your very first piece of chalkboard art, you are also eternally “ghosting” that design on the surface. The only way to actually erase it is to re-paint your chalkboard. No fun. Season away!
  2. I could purchase chalkboard cleaner…or I could just use the Pledge Multi Surface I already had in my closet. I chose the latter, and it works like a dream!

Step Three: Chalk Prep

As soon as I started drawing on my chalkboard, I noticed a marked difference between the width of my chalk and the width of the script I struggled to imitate. There had to be a better way!

When we were planning our wedding last year, our wedding coordinator, Alisa Lewis, told me a secret to chalk prep that she learned from a calligrapher: sharpen the chalk! Yes, you really can just use a pencil sharpener (although I would stick to a manual sharpener, not risk ruining an electrical one), and the chalk comes out with a perfect point, just like this:

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Possible Step Four: Make a Grid

Does trying to recreate a graphic feel overwhelming to you? I found an awesome tutorial over on Ella Claire Inspired that uses a grid method to make the process so much easier. You can check it out here!

graph

Personally, I have tried this method and it felt a bit cumbersome to me because I like a certain amount of freehanding as I’m drawing…but I would encourage others (especially you math people!) to try it for yourself because the results are amazing!

Step Five: Fun Fonts

This is the fun part! Using the picture as my guide, I just do my best to recreate it. If you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to use dotted/dashed lines (like in your cursive workbooks!) and then go back and fill the font in later.

As I’m getting started, I typically start with the center letter to make sure I’ll have enough space for the entire word:

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For script fonts, I start out with the basic cursive…

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…then go back and thicken up some angles of the letters as if it were calligraphy…

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…and finally, I color in the gaps.

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A couple side notes: if necessary, I use my finger to blend the chalk so I can create a smoother appearance, and then I go back over the borders of the letters with the chalk to make the edges extra defined. For serif fonts, I print my letters first, and then I go back and add serifs and sometimes stripes too! Don’t forget to go back over the edges of the letters (sometimes several times) after drawing your stripes to neaten everything up. Finally, I keep a microfiber cloth and Pledge Multi Surface handy; I do a lot of erasing and redoing during this process.

Step Six: If you can’t do something right…

…don’t do anything at all? Wait. No way — that’s no fun. Just modify! I love adding my own flair or modifications as I go, especially if I encounter a drawing I simply can’t accurately reproduce. As far as I’m concerned, a simpler drawing or font done with quality always looks better than a haphazard attempt at something more difficult. Besides, let’s face it: I am way too OCD to look at something that’s poorly done every single time I walk into the house! 🙂 I know my perfectionist friends out there can identify with me on this one.

Step Seven: Admire your handiwork!

Seriously, though! You worked hard on this, so display it somewhere visible that will make you smile every time you see it. This is such a fun and cheap way to swap out your decor with each season, holiday, or occasion, and it also makes for a great conversation piece when friends and family visit.

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Step Eight: Repeat

Even when I really love one of my drawings (like my last one with the Julia Child quote), I eventually get to the point where I’m ready to move on. That’s the beauty of chalk as opposed to other mediums: it’s easily erased! In all honesty, I’m pretty sentimental, so this is where taking pictures comes in — I can still remember and admire previous chalkboards with a quick swipe on my iPhone, but I can also enjoy something new as often as I want!

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I’m so happy with how our Easter decorations turned out for brunch! You can check out the silk neck tie egg tutorial we used here, the Pinspiration for the cake plate nest here, and the bunny napkin folding tutorial here. I think it’s safe to say that, next to Christmas, Easter may be my new favorite decorating holiday!

Oh, and the food? To die for. More on that later this week; Mike cooked up some amazing treats!

How about you? What are your favorite Easter traditions and decorations?

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3 Comments

  • Update U

    […] after filling in the letters (check out more lettering details here) and rearranging some decor, I have a brand spanking new chalkboard […]

    April 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm Reply
  • Jeannie

    As one of your honored and very fortunate guests, I thank you and Mike for all the effort and love you put into Easter Brunch. Lovely decorations, scrumptious food, and people you love. What more can you ask for?

    April 6, 2015 at 5:16 pm Reply
    • Carolyn

      We had so much fun, Jeannie! We really couldn’t ask for a more wonderful Easter. I’m so glad we all got to spend so much time together!

      April 8, 2015 at 4:34 pm Reply

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