Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chalkboard with an Old-Fashioned Appeal

Hello friends!  It's Tori West here, with my September project.  The mornings have been getting cooler and I see the kids walking to school every morning carrying all of their books and supplies - though today they are probably carrying electronic devices, seeing them brought to mind images of kids from long ago having to carry their slate tablets to school.  I researched school slates for this project, but in the end I decided to design a fancier version, like those that might be found in stores or kitchens "way back when".

One of my favorite things to do with Creative Paperclay® modeling material is to create faux finishes and make the material look like something it's not, or a sort of tromp l'oeil in 3-D.  One of the things that is easy and fun to create the look of is wood!

There are two versions of the project shown - the plain version, and one with an optional tin tray (or really, paper made to look like tin).

To create your own chalkboard you will need:

Creative Paperclay® modeling material
heavy double-layer cardboard (industrial type like that used for appliance boxes)
Glad Press-n-Seal plastic wrap
craft knife
painter's tape
chalk paint - I used Marvy easy chalk board marker and Marvy Bistro Chalk Marker
rolling pin
60, 200 & 400-600 grit sandpaper
needle file
acrylic paints, glaze medium, & tools for painting
- my palette contained Delta Ceramcoat colors; burnt umber, burnt sienna, walnut, golden brown, spice tan, black and white
drill with 1/4" (or so) bit
tracing paper large enough to trace pattern on to
optional - paint guards, or plastic lid if you'd like to make your own.

click here to link to .pdf pattern

Begin by enlarging the pattern and transferring the shape to heavy cardboard.  Cut out the shape and cover it with press and seal wrap along the top and sides.  Make sure you have the plastic securely sealed down, as this will be the working board for the chalkboard.

Moisten the top of the plastic with a damp cloth then roll a 1/8" layer of clay directly onto the board.  Trim around the edges leaving a slight overlap, then press the overlapping clay down onto the sides of the board to help prevent warping of the clay while it dries.  Allow this first layer of clay to dry thoroughly.  This layer will be the chalkboard base, so sand it smooth starting with the 200 grit sandpaper then going to 400 or 600 grit.

When the first layer is smooth, clean off all the sanding residue then wet the outer edges of the clay and about 3 inches in towards the center, where the second layer will go, allow the water to sink into the clay for a few seconds and then brush a little bit more on; the goal is for the second layer to stick, not slide off, so don't use too much water - if it is just beading up on the surface you'll need to let it soak in for a tiny bit.  Roll a second 1/8" layer onto the first, then transfer pattern to wet clay (transferring patterns)  With the back of your craft knife, cut along the inner section and remove it, as shown.  Allow this layer to dry.

When the second layer is dry, roll out two strips of clay approx. 1 1/2" x 12" each and 1/16" thick.  Wet the side sections of the dry clay as you did for the last layer, and attach the fresh clay strips along the sides.  Trim along the outer edge, then measure 1 1/4" in from that edge and trim the inside section.  Measure 1" from the outer edge and mark lightly with the back of the craft knife.  Place the ruler gently along these lines then then use the toothpick to create the "carving" detail.  Allow this final layer to dry.

When the final layer is completely dry, carefully peal the clay away from the cardboard form.  Sand and trim the edges as necessary.  Paint the entire back of the piece, to within 1/4" of the edge with gesso (you can cover it later with colors that match the wood, but for now it is just to help stabilize the clay and prevent warping while you work on the front).

Now for the really fun part - making it look like wood!  First clean out the carving detail with a folded piece of sandpaper or a file.  Create the wood grain using 60 grit sandpaper and going in one direction only.  Make horizontal grain lines on the cross pieces, and vertical grain lines on the side pieces.  Press hard and move the sandpaper slowly along the piece.

Make sure to carry the grain around the edges.  Use the needle file to enhance a few areas with deeper grain lines, add some cracks or splits, and make sure that the grain goes all the way up to the edges on the cross pieces.   If you haven't managed to accidentally get a few dings and nicks in the piece while working on it, go ahead and add some :)

Create the look of grain along the inside edges with the needle file, then using the tip of the file, go all the way around the inside to create a small channel between the chalkboard area and the wood area.  This not only adds to the look of the wood and chalkboard being separate pieces, but provides a channel for paint to flow into when adding washes to age the piece.

 When you've finished creating the wood grain, remove all sanding residue and dust, then tape off the area and paint the center with chalk paint.  Follow manufacturers directions as to number of layers, etc.

While you're waiting for the chalkboard paint to dry, you can create some paint guards from a plastic lid (the photos show me testing them out on the dry board right before I started to paint, I didn't put them on there while the paint was still wet)

Drill a hole in the center of the top section, then use the needle file, and add some wear and grain detail to the hole, following the grain lines you made with the sandpaper.

Mix a color in the mid range of the wood look you want to create - this will be the base/undertone for the whole piece.  Mine is a mixture of golden brown & walnut, with a very small amount of burnt sienna.

Note - For every layer of paint on the "wood", keep the brush strokes in the same direction as the grain.

Paint on a thin layer of base coat, then moisten your paintbrush with water and remove some paint in a few areas along the wood.

I was going to tell you that I magically made the piece float,
but, I really just put a box under it so I could carry the paint
technique around all the edges 

Now add a layer of glaze medium mixed with the darker colors, walnut and/or burnt umber.  Allow that to dry, and add subsequent layers as desired.  I added a few more layers alternating between mixes of walnut with burnt umber and a small amount of burnt sienna.  Add a few areas of grime and wear with a mixture of burnt umber and walnut (without the glaze medium), wet and wipe some of the edges to show wear.  For the final layer of paint, use a really watery wash of burnt umber and black and let it flow into all the areas and indentations around the chalkboard and grain -don't let it sit on the chalkboard section, just flow into the clay around it.

Although the wood now looks completely different, the warm color
of the base coat is still glowing through the glazes. 

To complete the piece, thread a length of twine through the hole for hanging and tie it off.  Fray the edges a bit (for added realism, you can sand them a little, and lightly sand the twine).  Paint the wash mixture onto the twine, and while the twine is still wet, rub it back and forth along the wood to create the look of wear.

When everything is dry, seal the wood sections with matte varnish.  When the varnish is dry, buff a few spots with torn paper bag if you'd like a bit of shine on the wood.

If you'd like to create the faux tin tray to add to the piece, click here for a free pdf file with pattern and instructions.

Thanks for joining me again this month, I hope you've enjoyed the project.

I'd love for you to join me for more projects & art adventures on my personal blog
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ImagiMeri said...

What a neat project!

susan said...

i love this peace, sure going to make this!.

Ann Strecko Koeman said...

Incredible! Looks just like wood.