Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wedding Upcycle: DIY Chalkboard Edition

This will be the first of a few future posts on "upcycling" items from our wedding. If I had to pick one word to describe the decor at our wedding it would have been woodsy. Our reception was held at the top of a big hill overlooking the woods, and we incorporated ferns, birch centerpiece vases and table number holders, DIY terrariums, and a few wood slabs/slices. In terms of decorating our living space, I've always loved some of those same elements - rustic, woodsy, and natural - so it's great to be able to reuse some of these items 18 months later. Meaningful, and they don't break the bank - which is key when you're about to have a house to fill!

Our cake knife and server were displayed on a tree slice (which was WAY smaller than advertised on the site I bought it from - comically so actually because I'd been hoping to display our cake on it!) When I complained they basically said "sorry, it's a natural product, we can't guarantee size (despite offering different sizes on their site), so we'll refund you and you don't have to send it back." Sweet, free cake knife plate. 
As you can see, the cake never had a chance of fitting on the small slab.
The slab has been sitting around in a drawer since our wedding and just recently I started playing around with ideas for what to do with it. I considered painting ferns or flowers on it, but eventually decided to join the masses of chalkboard lovin' people and turn it into a chalkboard with seasonal designs (so much inspiration on Pinterest!)

This was an easy, quick, and cheap DIY project - the trifecta of a good craft project, amirite? The only things I had to buy were the chalkboard paint and chalk. I will say here that I bought chalkboard markers at Michael's first and then read the instructions at home which said they were only for non-porous surfaces (aka NOT wood), so I hopped on Amazon and bought a mechanical chalk "pencil" which is meant for sewing - it comes with a bunch of skinny pieces of chalk in white and  various other colors and it comes with a sharpener, so you can write in really fine lines.

I started by tracing along one of the tree's rings with a pencil, I wanted to leave a small space between the painted surface and the bark.

Next, I used a skinny paintbrush to paint over the pencil line so I'd have a clear spot to stop when I went in with my foam brush.

The chalkboard paint I used works on most porous surfaces and you have to do two coats, one vertical and one horizontal with an hour of drying time in between. Here it is after one coat:

I ended up doing more like 4 or 5 coats. I love that you can still see the wood grain through the paint. Finally, I played around drawing with the chalk a little bit. Can you tell our move into the new house is heavily on my mind?

I'm already having fun coming up with ideas for future designs. I think I'll attach hardware on the back so it can be hung two ways, or find a plate holder and display it on top of a side table..hmmm.

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