DIY Black board photo display

10:22 AM

I am finally ready to give you the big reveal and details on the project that kept me busy most of last week :

It is one of these project that I have been thinking about for MONTHS, literally! I started thinking about this bit of boring blank space above my dresser in January. You know...when all sane persons take down their Christmas decorations.
Because, this very spot was adorned by this paper wreath last festive season (ok the wreath stayed up until last week, don't judge).

I went back and forth between ideas (in true Cyn fashion of course) for a long time. I thought of just putting a string and clips on the wall. Then I thought about a cork board. These ideas got replaced by the thought of an empty frame with wires and clips. Then a couple of months ago (as in May-June), I decided to settle on a rectangle board with just clips.
I even had a draft with the measures and everything, heck I even bought the clips the instant I saw them at the craft supply store.

The idea was to get the carpenter to cut a board and put hooks behind, and I would paint it with blue acrylic paint myself. But, because we got so busy the plan was on hold until two weeks ago when DH decided it was time to get the carpenter to our place.
This is where I got a huge change of mind, and a possible epiphany. I suddenly wanted a black board so we could doodle on it as well. Oh, and I wanted it to not be just a rectangle.

So, I went to work and drew a life size template on brown paper (the kind you use to cover school books) and handed it to the carpenter along with the order to find black board paint.

This is what he came up with a few days later :

A perfect replica of my life-size template in plywood.

He mounted it on the wall for me and gave me the pot of chalk board paint I asked him to look for (after showing him a picture a friend sent me on whatsapp eons ago, long before I thought I would need it).
And,  I got right to work :

In India, you have the choice of spending a fortune (as in 1500 rupees) on a tiny pot of water based chalkboard paint on Amazon, or go for the all surface oil based acrylic version from Asian Paint (the one in the picture above).
As you can see the oil based paint is way cheaper and comes in a 500 ml can (which means I have tons left for other projects).

What you need to be careful about though is that it is a paint that do contain solvents. Only use it in a well ventilated space and protect the surface adequately. Keep some turpentine on hand to clean the brush afterward (the only way to clean oil based paints off your tools).

The can label advised to sand and brush the surface before painting, which the carpenter did already for me. I ended up filing the edges a bit though, and since I didn't have sanding paper on hand, I used an old foot file (it works no joke). It also said the paint was fast drying but that 6 hours were recommended between coats.
I painted the first coat on and let it dry. At this point I think it could have worked with just that one coat, but I decided to give it another one just in case the next day.

While my black board paint was drying, I got to work on my wooden clips. They were untreated and I knew that without paint or varnish they would get really dirty with time. To remedy to it, I painted them gold. Two layers did the trick.

Once the second coat of black paint was dried and cured (6 hours), I glued my clips to the board. I used what is commonly called rubber based contact glue.
Contact glue is a type of glue that need to be applied to both surfaces and create a strong bond if used correctly.

To do it right you first apply the glue evenly on both parts that will need to be glued together. Then, you need to let it dry a little for about 2-3 minutes BEFORE joining the two items together. This part is very important with contact glue, if you stick both surface while the glue is still dripping wet, you won't get a good solid bond at all. And, because it is a solvent based glue, it goes without saying that you will need to do it in a properly ventilated space.

Regarding the paint, the can says nothing about prepping it for chalk, but many websites and blogs where different brands have been used recommend that you gently rub chalk all over the surface and then wipe it off with a damp cloth before the first use. I did it, but I don't know how essential that step is really.

I finished the board itself last Thursday, but because I didn't have any pictures to display on it, I was stuck until those came.
I got to work on that last Friday, editing many of my old mobile phone pictures and point and shoot pictures to have a nice selection of square photos to choose from. I sent everything to Zoomin later that same day and it came within 24 hours. By Saturday night I had some of the pictures up and I did a quick doodle and snapped pictures on Sunday morning (because the light was better).

We plan to rotate the pictures and add new ones regularly. The board will hold funny message and Holiday greetings as well.

Now I can move on the rest of the creative projects on my list (if I don't add anything more to it). 

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  1. Taaaaa DAAAAA!
    Did you feel the earthquake? We didn't feel anything here in Nepal.
    Mz Mittens looks very approving of the decor also.

    1. We didn't feel the Quake in Mumbai, at least I didn't no idea if others felt it. Those in Delhi and surrounding areas did, and all said it lasted for about a minute. Quite scary.

      Mittens actually jumped on the drawer unit the instant I took my position to take a picture, looks like she really wanted to be in it :-)

    2. Anonymous10:01 AM

      I was driving and felt the car wobbling a bit. It thought may be there is some problem with the air in the tyres. I got scared because we are quiet new to driving. Later I got the news about the earthquake.

      My son had a problem with copying from the board. We bought a rubber sheet from stationery shop and pasted it on our wall. It looks a bit drab. Now, I think we should have decorated it with some designs.


    3. @Apple, my next project with black board paint will probably be to paint portion of the bathroom door in Ishita's room because she made doodles with markers that won't go away and she might as well continue doodling with chalk :-)

      That Asian Paint I mentioned is an all purpose paint that will do great on walls and doors as well. You could give it a try and have a mini-school at home to let your son practice :-) That can has 500ml in it and I havent even begun to make a dent in the quantity with my photo display project.

  2. Looks fab! It's amazing that you got this done in spite of the horrible Mumbai weather. Love your creativity.

    1. Thank you :-) Oddly enough this kind of creative project is what end up keeping me sane in that heat. Once I got myself off the sofa that is :-)

  3. Anonymous10:20 PM

    Lovely! How much did the whole thing cost if I may ask.? It's nice that craft projects give u happiness. I tried doing such home decor projects but strangely I didn't feel it was worth my time. So gave up long ago. Besides none of our family members care for it so it didn't work for me.

    1. I don't mind at all. The cost of the board and carpenter fee amounted to 1500 rupees, probably because DH booked him through "Task Bob". Our local carpenter is not very reliable and often makes himself desired for weeks, so we wanted to bypass that.
      The carpenter we hired told us that he would have to order a whole sheet of plywood regardless of how much we needed out of it. This board is 42 inches wide and I never checked the height when I made the template.

      The chalkboard paint can was 130 rupees. All in all it is not a super costly project, but it will keep you busy over a couple of days if you do it all yourself.

  4. Anonymous8:08 PM

    It's a great board ! You could probably sell some of these. Have you ever tried your hand at traditional Indian painting on furniture or walls ? (Pad)

    1. I have painted on walls and furnitures in the past, but not traditional designs. I don't really want to attempt it because I would not do it justice. Indian culture is not my culture. I would not be able to bring the right essence that makes traditional art resonate. Fusion, or Indian inspired, yeah sure, but not traditional art, I leave that to those who have an intricate knowledge of it.

    2. Anonymous11:34 AM

      Yes, I see what you mean. I was just wondering if you did flowers and birds, because you seem to do mainly geometric patterns lattely ? (Pad)

    3. You are right, I haven't noticed but it seems that I am in my "Geometrical pattern period". I do have a few flower and animal themed art I did in the past that is in the blog archives but nothing recent. With Christmas coming I think I will go into the whole stars and snowflakes mode soon :-)

  5. This one is beautiful, as always.
    love it.
    I did not know there was chalk paint involved.

    I am mailing you some pictures of the craft work i did for home.

    keep inspiring..


  6. You know Cynthia, I think you should do your own etsy shop and sell some key pieces.
    It would be lovely !


    1. Hi Smita, this is something I keep thinking about :-)


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