From Dollar Tree Halloween Plaque to Awesome Chalkboard


I have been working on decorating my front porch for Fall and realized that I was ready for new, new, new.  Just plain sick of the old, old, old.   I will post the before and afters tomorrow, but I wanted to give a sneak peak of a project that I did today that I am just plain excited about.  After walking around Michael’s, Target, Pier One, and a couple of thrift stores in town looking for something to hang on my door I was getting a bit frustrated.  Nothing excited me.  I had decided to get away from the “look at me, I’m a Fall color” colors this year and am going with a totally different color palette .  Basically gray, pewter, turquois and just a touch of orange.  Sound weird?  Tune in tomorrow, and see what you think.  An-y-way…last night I was in Dollar Tree and saw some MDF Halloween plaques and guess what?  I got inspired.  They have a few different  shapes to choose from and I grabbed this one:


Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  As I continued to walk around Dollar Tree I found the turquois  bow/ribbon (also pictured)  in the giftwrap section.  (Oh, just ignore the ivy-looking foam stamp in the bottom corner of the above pic… I decided to nix my idea for that.  Maybe another time.)  See where I am going with this?  No?  OK, keep reading.

I have always loved chalkboards and figured that this would be a great shape for one and remember…just one dollar!  Wanna see it, now that it is done?




Do you want to know how I did it?  First let me tell you the supplies that you need:  Black chalkboard paint, joint compound (there is likely some in your garage right now…if not, go ask a neighbor- you don’t need that much), masking tape (painter’s tape is preferred), your choice of paint color for the “frame”, Minwax stain (optional)- I used Ebony, chalk, paintbrush, scissors and, of course, the plaque and decorative bow & ribbon.  Oh, just a suggestion; some of the Dollar Tree plaques were kind of bent, find a straight one if you can.   Got it all?  Let’s go!

First of all, this plaque has great guide lines, making the taping off process really simple.  Use those lines and tape as shown below.  Since I didn’t want an arch on my chalkboard, I used the top edge as a reference point for leaving a frame border.  Note the tape that says “Remove” that  I put along the top. Just under that I added another piece of tape, the one that says, “Keep”.  Once that one is in place, remove the top piece of tape, as shown.


Now, for the fun part.  Spread a thin layer of joint compound outside of the tape line to form a textured frame.  I had planned that I would use the foam stamp to create texture, but decided that I am probably the only human on the planet with that exact stamp and nobody would be able to duplicate it, so I just used my fingers to form a random swirly texture.  Kind of similar to frosting a cake…except with your fingers.  Don’t worry, this stuff washes off of your hands and surfaces really easily.  Before the joint compound dries, remove the tape.   It should take less than 30 minutes to dry.  The edges will be all messy, but this is an easy fix.  Break off the larger chunks of dried joint compound and then wet your fingers to “sand” the edges smooth.  Super easy.  If you feel like the surface is too harsh looking, you can also go over that with your wet fingers.  Easy.


Next step, paint the center of the board with chalkboard paint.  Don’t tell anyone, but when I do small projects like this,  I use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.  I once called a paint manufacturer to ask if it was ok to do that and the guy told me some mumbo-jumbo about the paint chemical reaction blah-blah-blah and it is not recommended.  Well, so far, so good.   The Paint Police haven’t come and taken me away yet.  I painted two coats, and with blow drying in between, it only took a total of less than 5 minutes before I was ready to paint the outside edge of the frame.  I wanted you to be able to see the texture, so I dry painted the “frame” with the chalkboard paint so it could show up in these pics.  Next step, re-tape the edge, in the same places as before,  right on top of the just painted chalkboard surface (this is why painter’s tape is preferred… the adhesive isn’t going to pull up the mostly dry chalkboard paint.  Hey, I’m impatient!).  This taping process is pretty easy since the joint compound formed a bit of a “lip”.  Now, paint your chosen framed color.  I just did one coat, but you can decide whether yours needs another or not.


For the look that I wanted, I added a bit of Minwax Ebony stain.  I like how it changes the color and makes the textures pop out a bit more.  You can use a wadded up paper towel to sop up extra stain if it gets darker than you want it to be, then remove the tape.  After leaving it in the sun (I’m impatient, remember?) for an hour or so I was ready to finish it.   Since the joint compound covered up the original holes. I had to uncover them by poking through from the front of the frame towards the back.   Ribbon came next. I could blah- blahabout how I did it, but I know that you can figure it out.  Suffice it to say that mine is a double layer ribbon hanger with extra bits of ribbon tied in a knot at the top to make it more frilly.  Lastly, I hot glued the ribbon bow to the chalkboard to up the WOW! factor.

So, here it is, hanging on my door.  What do you think?  In my next post I will let you know how I did my lettering.    D’ya like it?


This wordy-wordy detailed tutorial may disguise the fact that this project is actually very simple to do.  And, let me remind you…it is a super CHEAP project!   Run down to Dollar Tree right now while they still have their Halloween plaques. Christmas is coming and these will make great gifts!   Stay tuned for the porch reveal!

4 thoughts on “From Dollar Tree Halloween Plaque to Awesome Chalkboard

  1. Clever stuff! And just for the record I love a wordy wordy tutorial, it doesn’t make it seem complicated, it feels like you have everything you’ve learnt set right out there so we know what to do!
    What I love about this is the idea to take something a bit out of season (and therefore potentially reduced) and transform it completely – very clever.


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