How to Write on a Chalkboard

September 5, 2013

Making it Pretty

In the past, I've always just free-handed my chalkboard messages:

They never looked bad, but ... they never looked all that pretty either:

So, for my Halloween chalkboard, I really wanted to try a little harder.  And I'm happy to say, I think my effort this time around really paid off:

Here's how I created what you see up there ...

At first, I thought about using printables.  I know they're a very popular option for making a chalkboard pretty:

But, I had this particular quote in mind that I knew wanted to use:

"When witches go riding 
and black cats are seen, 
the moon laughs and whispers: 
"'Tis near Halloween!"

And I couldn't find a printable, that I liked, for it anywhere!

So, I decided to pick up some stencils at the crafts store.  I bought these four inch ones:

And these, slightly fancier script, three inch ones:

My chalkboard is pretty big.  I made it out of an old, poster sized, frame a few months ago.  So, that allowed me to pick the bigger stencils.

Once I got them home and opened, my daughter and I played around with them a bit:

We both quickly realized that the 4 inch poster letters would be very easy to write with.
They just punched out, like you can see up there.  And the remaining paper surrounding the opening gave plenty for the ol' fingers to hold onto.

The smaller, "fancier," ones though ... they were a bit of a pain.  They came in two big strips, which I knew wouldn't work.  

So I cut them up:

At first I was just going to cut them in half, but I quickly realized I needed each letter to be individual - like the bigger ones were:

It was a bit of a hassle, honestly.  But, once that was finished - the work really moved along smoothly from there.

As I mentioned, I knew what I wanted the board to say.  So, I just started collecting the letters I knew I would need.  

I also found some cool shapes, like the moon you can see down here: 

That little guy made me really happy for some reason, lol.  I mean, a moon wouldn't be hard to free-hand.  But, still, I thought it was cute. :-)

I did NOT draw out exactly where everything would go.  I wanted the message to have a fun, random, feel to it.  

And I didn't do any measuring, or draw any light straight lines either!

I simply took the first stencil, laid it as close to the top as possible (since I knew I had a LOT to write) and started fill it in ...

After stenciling in the first "W," I knew this project was going to require quite a bit of intermittent clean up.  You can see all the white flecks up there.  

The biggest thing was to make sure that the space I was about to stencil on was clear.

For instance, you can see lots of chalk dust all over the place up there.  But, you'll also notice that where the "N" in "WHEN" is about to go ... that's clean.

Once I got the hang of it, things moved pretty quickly.  The letters were very easy to just line up.  

My free-handing itch hit on "Witches," though.  I wrote the "itches" myself.  ;-)

And, when I got to the part of the phrase that mentioned "black cats," I knew that I wanted a scared kitty image.  So, I free-handed that too:

And I may have also free-handed the "iding" in "Riding."

What can I say?  I play by my own rules! :-)

Bigger problem though:  I realized after "black cats" that I was running low on space.  So, I skipped all the way to the last word, "Halloween," and filled it in as low as I could. 

This helped me get a better idea of how much room I really had left.

I quickly realized that my initial dream phrase was too long.  I needed to cut out the part you see in black:

"When witches go riding 
and black cats are seen, 
the moon laughs and whispers: 
"'Tis near Halloween!" 

And, I'm very proud to say that:  Instead of freaking out completely and botching the whole project ... I remembered something I'd seen on Pinterest!

It was the same phrase!  Basically.  Only shorter!  And perfect!  And with a countdown!


I got on board with the new plan, and started filling it in:

But, then I realized I still had a problem.

I STILL didn't have enough room.  I had no place to put the last word!  "Until." 

So I erased "are seen ..." and "Tis __ Days," and decided ...

I'm putting words in the cat!

And I'm very happy with how it all turned out:

Sure, it's not quite as amazing as some of the printables out there.  But, I didn't have to measure a thing!  And, most importantly, I got to make it my own. 

You'll notice that all of those flecks of white I showed you earlier are gone.

Since my chalkboard is actually made of an old picture frame, and I'm really writing on glass ... I used Windex and a paper towel to clean up throughout the process.  And, after it was all done, I used Windex and a Q-tip in the tight spots. 

I mentioned in my last post, about my Halloween mantel, that I'm actually not all that into the neon greens, purples, and oranges that are so popular with Halloween decor lately.  

But, using those shades on the chalkboard really helped the words pop.  Even from across the room, you can tell what the board says:

Ok, maybe you have to squint to see the words in the cat.  BUT STILL.  I think it's cute. :-)

The project took me a little under three hours total to complete.  That's with preparation time included.  I spread the work over two nights.

The process would obviously have been much easier had I picked something simple to write ... like "BOO!" ;-)

But, I'm happy with what I picked:

The stencils were not expensive.  I only paid around $8 for both packs.

And the best part is, I have them to use again and again! :-) 

Until THAT'S necessary, though, I'm working on decorating my hutch:

Talk to you again soon! 

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