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A few years ago, I fell in love with hand-lettered signs and decided I wanted to make some of my own.
My handwriting is terrible.
My letters are all different sizes. The sentences I write could compete in downhill skiing competition with how badly they slant downwards. I jam letters so close to one another that “long” suddenly looks like “bng”. Halfway through writing, my brain gives up on the letter I am trying to form and my hand produces some hideous scribble instead.
It’s a mess.
With this in mind, I knew my usual DIY approach of “just try it and hope for the best” wasn’t going to work here. So I decided to experiment. I tried a number of different chalkboard lettering techniques, figuring that at least one of them would allow me to create pretty signs without being some sort of calligraphy god.
After much trial and error (mostly error), I eventually hit on a technique that I loved. So I’d like to share it here, in case someone else finds it useful.
How to do chalkboard lettering
For this project, you will need:
- A print out of the text you want to put on your sign, preferably in a handwritten or calligraphy font.
- A chalkboard. I personally used an old photo frame, painting the backing with some chalkboard paint to create the chalkboard
- Sticky tape, scissors, and a stick of chalk. (Coloured chalk works best as white chalk can be hard to see)
- A chalk marker. I love chalk markers as I find it a lot easier to write with a proper pen rather than a small stick of chalk. Alternatively, if you do not intend on erasing your chalkboard lettering, you could try paint markers.
To begin, stick you paper to a window with decent sun, letters facing outward so you see the back of the paper. If you have a particularly sunny desk/bench or thin piece of paper, you may be able to see the letters through the paper – if so, you can skip attaching the paper to the window.
Using your coloured chalk, trace the back of your letters. Press down semi-firmly to ensure a decent amount of chalk is transferred to the paper. You can go over your letters two or three times if the chalk isn’t dark enough.
Once you have traced your letters, you will have something that looks like this:
Next, flip your paper over and place it on the chalkboard in the position you would like your lettering to appear. Use sticky tape to hold the paper in place (the bigger your design, the more sticky tape you will need).
Once your paper is secure, use your fingers to apply firm pressure to the paper and begin rubbing back and forth. I usually rub over the letters at least twice, often three times.
Once you’re done, gently lift the paper from the chalkboard. You should have something like this.
Grab your chalk marker and begin tracing the chalk outline.
Once you have finished, you will have something like this.
As you can see, mine is quite messy around the edges (I told you I sucked at writing). If your chalkboard lettering is messy like mine, grab a small paintbrush, dip it in a little water (it only needs to be damp, not dripping), and begin wiping around any messy letters.
The ability to easily clean up your lines like this is the main reason I prefer to use a chalk marker over a paint marker.
And with that, your chalkboard lettering is all finished.
If you have any questions or need further clarification, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll do my best to help!