DIY: Chalkboard Signs

So, here's a DIY idea that's not super mind-blowingly original, but I wanted to show off my project anyways.  Todd cut this speech bubble-shaped sign from out of plywood (it's like 1/4 inch thick plywood, but you could cut it out of particleboard or nicer wood - whatever floats your boat.

If you're not feeling real confident on drawing and cutting your own speech bubble, I've made you a template here.  It fits onto standard 8.5"x11" paper, but you could choose to blow it up if you want to go larger.  I also recommend sanding down the edges of your cutout (see how mine look kind of rounded?  That's sanding.)  You can also add one of those little sawtooth hangers on the back if you wanna hang your sign.  Mine's just flat because it's sitting on the mantle right now.  Might add a hanger later.  This sign would also make an awesome photo prop!

You've probably found a ton of "recipes" for chalkboard paint online.  Honestly, anytime I've wanted to make a chalkboard, I just use flat black paint.  Wait, I take that back.  We did use paint labeled "chalkboard paint" for our basement door/entryway board, but for this project (and several other past ones) I've simply used flat black paint.  It works.  Seriously.

So, we gave this wooden speech bubble cutout a couple coats of flat black paint, and let it dry.  One good suggestion for any chalk board is to "condition" it first with a piece of chalk: rub a piece of chalk on it's side to coat the board, then wipe away with a soft cloth eraser.  Then you're good to go.

Now, perhaps you wanna make your sign look all spiffy like mine.  There's a couple of secrets that not all websites share regarding this.  First of all, they're NOT using regular chalk.  It's a chalk marker.  I went to Michael's and found one for myself (it's by Craft Smart, and has a chisel tip).  Here's a comparable one I found on Amazon (click image for link):

So now that you have a marker and can achieve those pretty clean lines, you need to be able to do lettering!  I found FREE fonts that you can download to layout, print out, and then use to copy your own lettering design onto your sign!  I used Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded for the "Lebans" section of the sign, and I used Bergamot Ornaments for the "The" section (hint: it's the lowercase z key).  These are both free fonts you can download from DaFont.com - one of my very favorite websites!

I have to add one little snafu that came up with designing my sign.  For some reason, the Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded font wasn't (and still isn't) showing up in Microsoft Word... but it works just fine in Adobe Photoshop, so I just did my layout and printing from there.  Bergamot worked just fine on Word though.  I'm on a MacBook Pro, if that makes a difference to anyone out there.  If you try it out and it works, or if you have any ideas, please let me know!

I think I'm going to use these fonts to make a "grocery list" banner for the top of our entryway board, you know, so it looks all fancy.  If you make something, be sure to show it off so I can go check it out!

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