AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

The Secret to Chalkboard Calligraphy

July 23, 2015

Chalkboards are a trendy and fun addition to your home or event; they can give direction, add a personal touch to your space, and label just about anything. There’s no doubt that they’re cute and helpful, but the real trick is writing on them. We weren’t all born with the calligraphy bug, so we’ve put this simple how-to for “faking chalkboard calligraphy” (and print!) together to ensure you’re prepared for the next event on your calendar.

Chalkboards are great for:
– Writing an inspirational quote to hang in your space
– Labeling food and drinks at a party
– Menus and place settings at a dinner
– Labeling herbs in your garden
– Seasonal signage in your home
– Labeling organizational bins
– And a million different things for big events like a wedding or baby shower

Shop Dutch Tulip Crates here


Shop Essential Wire Baskets here


Shop our Galvanized Trivet (used in place setting as a charger) here


Finding the perfect size and shape chalkboard for your space is key. We’ve put together a collection of our favorites from the Market here.


So, now that you’ve picked out the occasion you’re writing for and the chalkboard you’ll be using, here’s what you’ll need:

Either classic chalk or a chalk pen. We use the chalk pen brand “Chalk Ink” in this tutorial, but any craft store pen will do. If you’re having trouble deciding which to use for your project, know that classic chalk is great for temporary projects you’ll want to easily erase. It also has more of a classic chalk “look” to it than a pen. Pens tend to look slightly “cleaner” and last more permanently than chalk.
Scissors or a knife for sharpening if you opt to use classic chalk. (Proceed with extra care!)
A Magic Eraser. The Magic Eraser completely erases any marks, mistakes, or chalk residue.
A piece of scratch paper cut to the size of your chalkboard for spacing practice.

Whether you prefer to write on your chalkboard in print or in “calligraphy cursive” is completely up to you, but for those of you who’d like to try your hand at calligraphy, here are a few tips for beginners –

1. Calligraphy is not as fluid as classic cursive. Each letter you write should be an individual character, so don’t try to connect them fluidly like you would, say, your signature. Try to write one cursive letter, and then pick up your pen. Start the next letter by “connecting” it to the letter before it. Practice makes perfect.
2. After you’ve written and connected your letters, go back with your writing utensil and “darken” your downstrokes. So sketch over your word again, and anywhere your pen would’ve moved downward, thicken the line. Your upward strokes should remain thin.

Lets get started with our chalkboard art –
1. Begin by grabbing your scratch paper and a regular pen or pencil to practice your spacing. This gives you the opportunity to practice the font you’ll be writing in and map out your spacing.
2. If using classic chalk, this is an opportune moment to take your knife or scissors and sharpen it. You’ll get the best result using chalk that has a pointy end rather tan a blunt or squared end.

3. After you have your spacing worked out and your chalk sharpened, pick up your chalkboard. Grab a piece of classic chalk to very lightly trace your letters onto your chalkboard, mimicking the spacing you just rehearsed. Remember, you can always erase if you don’t like the look of it.
4. Go over your traced wording with your pen or chalk until it has the thickness and “style” you prefer. If you are printing rather than using cursive make it funky and fun, or look up print fonts to replicate.
5. Add any flourishes, a laurel wreath, or flower branches you’d like. This can add character or fill extra space.

And that’s it! Easy as pie.

chalkboard calligraphy from Magnolia Market on Vimeo.

Don’t be intimidated by calligraphy or chalkboards in general. All it takes is a little patience and the realization that a chalkboard is completely erasable. That’s the beauty of them! You can’t mess up, so just keep trying until you get it right.

Remember to tag @magnoliamarket on Instagram if you try your hand at chalkboard calligraphy! We’d love to see your work!

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  • Bella
    7:25 pm, April 2, 2017
    I am not the greatest at font, and chalkboards are some of the hardest for me to master. When I look at ideas such as sharpening the chalk, I feel so thick-headed because when I pick up a piece of blunt chalk I am like "How on earth am I supposed to make this look good?" Thanks for the advice!
  • Jeanette @ Snazzy Little Things
    6:43 am, July 31, 2015
    Great tips! I'm always looking for ways to improve my own handwriting. This font is so pretty, one of my favorite looks!
  • Sherry Myers
    1:25 pm, July 28, 2015
    P.S. A chalk holder, which can be purchased at any school supply store, can also keep your fingers from getting dry and chalky when you are doing all those creative doodles! ?
    Sherry
  • Sherry Myers
    1:21 pm, July 28, 2015
    Thank you! I am a former teacher who discovered sharpening my chalk a long time ago. I always thought it made writing on a chalkboard flow better, looking cleaner, and it gave it a more crisp contrast to the board. A pencil sharpener works very well to sharpen chalk. Your tutorial is great! Needless to say, I love the job that Chip, Joanna, and the whole Magnolia Team are doing!! Keep inspiring us!
    Sherry
  • Terry McKay
    11:19 am, July 28, 2015
    Love the idea of using chalk! I use it slot but needed the tips you just have . I can't wait to see all the new and exciting things you and Chip have been up to! Enjoy the rest of your summer. ?
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