Monday, December 16, 2013

Chalkboard Cheats [How to Create Chalkboard Art]

Over the past year, I've received a solid chunk of emails asking about the word art on my kitchen chalkboard, which I usually update around holidays or for parties/special events.
98% of those emails ask how I did it.
I so desperately wish I could say "Oh this?  I just whipped it right up after dinner one night."
But, that would be a total lie.
I'm a chalkboard cheat.  And 100% proud of it. :)

I mean, look at this year's - the straight letters, even spacing... yeah, no.
Not freehand.  I've tried that, and it... wasn't great.

Exhibit A:
This was last year's Christmas chalkboard, and my first attempt ever at chalkboard art.
I thought "I'm relatively creative, and reasonably skilled at mimicking drawings.  This will be fairly easy."
Or not.
Is this terrible?  No.
But, this was achieved after a collective 4+ HOURS of trying over and over again to get things straight, somewhat even, and crisp enough to keep my eye from twitching.
Friends, I'll never get those 4 hours of my life back.

I tried another method when I helped host a baby shower for a former colleague.
This time, I found a tutorial about covering the backside of freezer paper with chalk, then tracing over the letters on the other side.
It *worked*, I guess.  Kind of.
The chalk dust outline was so faint I couldn't really trace it.
So, I ended up printing full-sized letters and taping them up next to where I was drawing, and doing it half-trace, half-freehand.
It still took waaaaaay too long:

I have the attention span of a gnat, people.
Taking so much time for something I KNOW could be done in less drives me batty.
Ain't nobody got time for that!
 By Thanksgiving, I found the Holy Grail of chalkboard cheats.
The Overhead Projector.
My Dad's office was moving and was purging a lot of stuff that they didn't want to transport.
Surprise surprise, in this digital age they weren't too keen on hanging onto an early-90's classroom staple.
I didn't care, Dad snagged it for me (for free!) and I was as happy as a pig in poo.
Because THIS:

...took me 11 minutes.

It can be done!

Here's a little trick - the transparency paper used for overheads can be a little spendy.  That's mainly because people just don't use overheads like they used to.
So since I got my overhead for free, I wasn't going to spend a ton on transparency paper, ya dig?

So now when I'm looking for a design, I search online until I find what I'm looking for, save the image, then print it out and stick it in one of these $4-for-9,000 plastic binder sleeves.
Then I just trace the design right on the plastic sleeve with a sharpie.  Take the paper out, and voila!  Instant overhead template.  Now you can fire up the machine, and just trace onto your chalkboard. 

When I'm done, I like to slip the paper back in the sleeve, and then I keep a binder of chalk art options for a variety of different events.  Just pull out the book when you're feelin' artsy, and away you go!

So go forth, friends!
Scour craigslist and school sales and used office furniture/supply stores for a cheap overhead projector.
And you, too, can find and own the miracle technology revered by chalkboard cheats everywhere.

Chalk to your little heart's content. :)

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