Your cheatin' (he)art...

A little cheatin' has been going on here at Red Gate Farm.... cheating on chalk art that is.

If you've been following, or checked Red Gate Farm out recently, you may have noticed that we had an event back in August... a wedding kind of event!  And we used a lot of chalkboards in the decorating.  Some for keepsakes...

Some for fun and whimsy...

Some for signage... like signage to tell you the kinds of cupcakes we offered!  My daughter was the one that discovered this technique for transferring... of course it can work on other mediums besides chalkboards....

So, the first step is finding what you want to transfer.... an image, some typography... or even a bit of both.  There are tons of free images/printables out there or you can even make you own using a variety of computer fonts, like I did with my last chalkboard project... I've printed out a number of pages to use... some for holidays, some for fun.... so to pick one for today's project, well... I'll have to go with a Halloween printable.  You may need to reduce or enlarge your print to fit your board....

And since this is chalkboard art, you'll need a chalkboard.  Mine happens to be a vintage slate chalkboard I keep in my living room year round, but you can also use this method on chalkboards you've made with chalkboard paint.

You'll need a piece or two of chalk... plain old white will do.  I also used a chalkboard marker for the final "writing" but only on my real slate board or glass... the markers state that you cannot use it on the "man made" chalkboards paint... well you CAN use it, it just becomes permanent... we actually used a marker on our wedding chalkboards but since we were keeping them that was fine.... of course, you could always paint another coat of chalkboard paint over them and start fresh if you like the look of the marker as the end product.

The next step is a little dusty and messy... you basically cover the back side of the printed copy of your image or typography with the chalk... I couldn't get a picture of this since my paper was white... should have used some color chalk for demonstration purposes, but you get the idea, right?  So cover everywhere that you have type or an image, but on the back/blank side.  For my example I had to cover the whole back side with chalk!  And yes, it was a dusty mess.

Now next you'll want to gently shake the loose chalk off of your paper before flipping it over... then carefully place it over your chalkboard.  I like to use a small piece of tape to keep the paper in place while I'm working.... And finally take a sharp ink pen or mechanical pencil and carefully trace around all of the letters (or the image).  For skinny letters you're mostly going for size and placement... the bolder letters you'll want to actually outline them.

Remove the paper and this is what you will see.... a faint transfer of your type/image!  Now this is best done in a bright room.  The first time I tried it in the evening and couldn't see anything (I really hate those florescent lights even if they are green!)... I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.  I found the next day I just needed that... daylight that is!

 I also like to keep my original print handy because I do refer to it while going over everything.  Be careful not to rub any chalk off as you work across the board going over everything with your chalkboard marker and filling in the larger letters.  I like to outline them first and then (gasp!) color withing the lines!

A tip, if you are using regular chalk instead of a marker is to dip the end of the chalk in water... and use like normal.  You may need to dip the end multiple times throughout the project.  It will look faint at first but then darken as it dries.... and THIS does work on "man made" chalkboards that you want to erase!

And voila!  tThis is what you end up with!  You may notice I was in a bit of a hurry and the "orange" didn't come out quite right....

But imperfection is part of the art, right? Right.  I actually like some of the typography printables that have more of a variety between the fonts... but this is the Halloween one that I had handy this weekend I liked the best.

These little vintage slate chalkboards are fabulous for this since they are slate on both sides... I left my "fall" typography on the other side and can just flip it back over when October is over... always thinking ahead!  And come December?   Well a wet rag and I have a clean slate (couldn't resist).

And if you didn't know, you can use this same method to transfer an image/typography onto wood or paper... just use a pencil on the backside as your transfer "medium" instead of chalk!

So I hope you give this a try... because this cheatin' art is worth it!

And a PS...  someone asked about this little image in my last post.  It's actually something from the Martha Stewart line at Michaels... I know it's from a number of years ago.  But it's just a little velum square that was trimmed in metal...kind of like those key tags?  This would be easy to copy by either printing something directly onto vellum with your printer or even using pen/ink to trace an image onto vellum... and there are lots of free images out there!


  1. Chris,
    THANK YOU...THANK YOU...for sharing with us this neat and thrifty idea...I can't wait to try it out!


  2. Ohhh, I like this!!! Something to try, practice and perfect before the wedding! I really like the 2-sided so you don't have to erase all your efforts!

  3. You've totally inspired me sista!!!!! Made our old pantry cupboard door into a chalk board with cb paint. Haven't been inspired with what to write on it. Lots of ideas here!!!!!! I posted trick or treat to the party. Following you now. Follow me to at and share a facebook like to my box there:) Thanks for sharing this!!!

  4. Love it!! So creative you are! ;) xo Heather

  5. Thanks, Chris. I can't wait to try this. You know for much bigger boards, you can use an overhead projector. Copy image onto transparency and then move projector at the distance that fits the board. Bring on the chalk powder!!! Lynda (Holly's friend)

  6. When my husband transfers drawings to a prepared wooden panel for his icons, he coats the back of the drawing with Conte' crayon, and then uses a stylus to outline.

    You are using an ancient technique that iconographers have been doing for centuries! It's nice to know that the old techniques are still the best!

    Thanks for the tutorial - I will definitely try this out!

  7. I have featured you at my Nifty Thrifty Tuesday party this week. Please feel free to grab my starfish featured button for your blog (it’s located under my header).

  8. What a cute Halloween chalkboard! Great tips too!

  9. What a great idea...


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