Design

Express Yourself with DIY Chalkboard Speech Bubbles

06.22.11 By //

Project Image

While I channel Madonna for a brief moment..I pose a question to all of you: How do you express yourself?

Many of you who read this little ol’ bloggy poo, know that the expression shown below is one of my regulars. I thought it only fitting that this is how I express myself in my very own speech bubble! How will you express yourself in yours? I would love to see pictures of your finished projects with a single word (or small phrase) written in your bubble that best expresses who you are. What a fun little project this will be.

Speech Bubbles are all the rage for weddings and as photography props, but why not make them out of something a bit more lasting than foam board. I think these are a fun alternative to a family message board near the telephone or near the entryway. How about in a kiddo’s room for a different and yet even more fun version of a chalkboard display.

Express yourself… I will show you how!

Tools 

Jig Saw

Sander

Foam Brush or Paint Roller

Lumber 

1/4″ Sheet of 1/4” Plywood

Materials 

Chalkboard Paint – I used DecoArt Americana Chalkboard Paint

Instructions 

This is really quite a simple project, but let’s be real…cutting thin stock with a jig saw can cause some complication…aka..splintering. I will provide some suggestions for dealing with this below! Let’s get started…

Step 1

Step 1 

Begin by tracing the shape you desire your speech bubble to have onto your plywood. You will want to do this on the side that will be the bottom, and you should choose that side according to which of the sides has the most noticeable grain pattern and texture, that side…will be the bottom. The side that is the smoothest will be the side you ultimately want to use for the chalk board surface. There is a good reason for this, which you will see in the next couple of steps! I just used a red colored pencil that I found stuck under the couch cushion. My point…use anything that you can see, or that will show up adequately for you to cut along.

Step 2

Step 2 

Keeping the “bottom side up” (and the top or facing side, facedown)use your jig saw to cut along your line as close to the outlined shape as possible. As you can see below, I migrated my shape down several inches to make room for leftovers on my ply for another project! Another trick I have heard used to control plywood splintering is to run a strip of masking tape (it’s pretty thin) right over the line you will cut and this is said to reduce the splintering that occurs. Since I haven’t tested this theory, I am telling you this because it makes sense to me, given my experiences, but note that I haven’t actually given it a go…

Step 3

Step 3 

As you can see below, this side (the bottom side which is facing up for cutting) has splintered substantially. Not to worry, this is expected with thin sheet goods.

Step 4

Step 4 

But…flip that baby over to the smooth side (the front of what will be your chalk board surface) and the splintering is barely noticeable. This my friends, is why you should cut your thin stock with it’s face down. For a surface finish such as chalkboard paint, you will want as smooth and consistent a surface as possible. Choosing the smoothest side for the front is only half the battle in this game of chance. You MUST cut with that smooth side face down to keep it smooth!

Step 5

Step 5 

Sand well to remove the splintering, especially if this is for use with kiddos and sand the future chalkboard surface well to ensure a consistent and smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt paint application.

Step 6

Step 6 

Once you have sanded and wiped the debris from your project you are ready to paint. The instructions for my particular paint product suggest 2 applications, one vertically, the other horizontally with an hour or so of dry time in between. If you are working with unsealed bare wood as I am, you might find that it drinks up your paint like it’s been wandering the desert for 40 years. Not to worry, you just may desire another coat to be sure you have a beautiful dark black finish. Mine did not need an extra coat, but this is likely dependent upon your specie of plywood. I chose birch for it’s nearly perfect and ungrainy pattern and texture, so it didn’t need an extra coat. Pine plywood, is likely to absorb differently and perhaps may need a 3rd (or not…)

Step 7

Step 7 

Once your piece has dried thoroughly, you should see only minimal grain pattern through the finish. This is mainly textural and is a factor of how light interacts with black paint. But boy oh boy isn’t she a beauty! I almost didn’t dare touch it with chalk…too pretty!

Step 8

Step 8 

I suppose leaving it untouched defeats the purpose…so, the thing to do when your piece has dried completely (give a day to fully cure, though it likely won’t take long at all) you will want to prime your piece by covering the entire surface with chalk! This is every kid’s dream come true (and most of our adult selves as well, since we aren’t that likely to have been able to do this when we were small). Cover it, and cover it well with a layer of chalky goodness, then wipe clean.

Note: this particular brand of paint I used can be cleaned with water (yay), just so you know…sometimes with crazy folks abound in your home and lot’s of large Ikea Packs of chalk (I’m speaking from personal experience, can you tell?)…a good washing is just the thing to clean well and cut the chalk dust!

Step 9

Step 9 

My personal expression! Can I get a yahoo? So fun…don’t you think?

Note 

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