Thursday, January 7, 2016

Chalk It Up! DIY Chalk Boards

Who doesn't love to doodle on a chalkboard? As a kid, my favorite thing in school other than recess and lunch was getting the opportunity to write on the chalkboard. They are fun for grown ups too; writing messages and cool phrases is an endless entertainment. Want to make your own? Here's some tips on how to do it!
I'm going to show you two different chalk boards that we made recently, one for our kids and one for us grown ups.
A good way to start is with a salvaged frame. Here I have a 3'x4' canvas with a frame. It's very big. I got it for $8 at my local thrift shop.
I removed the canvas from the frame, and saved the canvas for a later project. Never give up a perfectly good canvas!
So here's what we have to work with.
Here is the other frame. I think I bought this one at a yard sale. I love the ornate detail. It was like this when I got it so it's already ready to go.
A close up of the design.
A little tape and we're ready to paint.
Prime and paint. A nice red for the kids.

A cool copper for me.
On the kids' board, I noticed that the paint wouldn't really take to the fabric-y part of the frame. So, we have to paint it something different by hand.
So I decided to paint it black. It took a few coats, but eventually it covered enough and looks great.
For the grown up board, I did a stain over it. I mixed a little black paint with my dark brown paint, brushed it over and wiped/patted the paint off with a paper towel. You want to let it fall in the crevices so it brings out all the detail.
I actually started out with just my brown paint and realized that it wasn't dark enough. So I went back over it with my black/brown mixture and it looks much better. You have to play with it a little; you might like it a little more subtle so you wipe off more paint. The more paint you leave on, the older it looks.
This frame also have a fabric-y (I really should learn the name for that) part, so I hand painted it as well. I started with white, then yellow. If you want to paint something yellow, it really needs to have a white primer under it.
Now that the frames are finished, we need to make the board part. Originally, I thought we would just buy a sheet of plywood and cut it to size. But Nick pointed out that the wood has a grain that would show ridges with the chalk. Hmm, what to use?
He bought this melamine type material, called hardboard, typically used for cabinet backer. It's super smooth. This definitely was the most expensive part, costing about $20 a sheet.
Nick cut both boards, and now they are ready for painting.
First, a coat of primer to help the chalkboard paint adhere to the material. I used a foam roller to make it happen faster.
Next step is the chalkboard paint (I didn't quite get the pictures). It only took two coats to get it finished. Make sure you cure it by running a piece of chalk sideways over the entire board.
Nick nailed the boards to the frames and voila! They are finished! The kids love their chalkboard, we use it for school already.
The grown up board is also looking great!
It fits in with great with my wall installation!
Chalkboards are fun and pretty easy to make. Just find yourself a cool frame and you're on your way to a cool new art piece!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What's The Rust? Faux Rusted Letters

Guess what? We're sick again. That means I got some blog posts up! Also, some projects just finally got finished, so yeah, that makes a difference too.
For some reason, I love to eat. It's a hobby of mine; I enjoy most aspects of consuming food. So years back when I saw the word "EAT" hung in a kitchen, I thought, "Perfect! Exactly what I need in my kitchen!" So I had a smaller version in our other house, but now in our new place, I wanted it to be a bigger statement. Since we have rusted metal on our living room ceiling, I thought it would be perfect to have rusted metal letters spelling the word.
As much as I didn't want to incur another project, I couldn't bring myself to pay the overinflated price for real rusted metal letters at the store. I was able to buy all three letters in cardboard for the price of one of the metal letters. So, I had to come up with a way to make the letters look rusty. I searched Pinterest and combined a couple of different methods, as well as wingin' it myself a little. They turned out amazing, and I actually like mine better than the real metal ones from the store!
I started out by spray painting the letters in a silver/chrome metallic paint. This looks pretty cool on it's own, but I really wanted a more aged look.
The next step is to sand the finish a little. Use a fine grit sand paper, and make sure to hit all the edges and corners. I also buffed a few spots here and there to give it a little more age. You shouldn't actually take the paint off all the way, it just gets darker in the places you sand.
Next we're going to stain it a little. I took dark brown paint and watered it down a little. Brush on, wipe off. This isn't going to make it look rusty, but it will help it look a little dingier, and not quite so new.
This picture makes it look a little more like the original cardboard, but it looks cool in real life.
The next step takes a little more artistic ability out of you, which was scary to me since I am in no way an artist, but it's not too hard to figure out. I mixed a little red paint into my dark brown (making a rust color) and brushed the paint on around the corners and edges. Brush from the edge in to make a feathered effect. Go thicker in some places, thinner in others, but you need to hit all the edges and corners.
It takes a little more time than the other steps, but it's definitely what makes it look authentic. I was staring at it so long that I couldn't tell if it looked good at all. So you might choose to take breaks between each letter.
 Bam! Authentic looking rusted metal letters! Sabrina approves.
It took a while before it finally got up on the wall, but it looks great there now!
Looks great with all my other decorative items.
So now I have my favorite thing to do hanging in my kitchen again. Feels like home.