Shnoof Learns To Draw

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Shnoof Learns to Draw. Acrylic, Crayon, and Collage on Canvas. 16×20. April 4, 2016.

I finished my newest piece, Shnoof Learns to Draw, last night and wanted to share my process.

I don’t have an exciting story for how this painting popped into my head. I’d already completed the background and was sort of staring at it to decide what I wanted to do and then the idea just sort of unfolded. I based the mouse on a face my niece does along with some features from my 18 month old.

First of all, I am TERRIBLE at translating images from my head to paper. I have to just sort of feel my way through it. For a long time I’ve been embarrassed by that, but it is what it is and I’m making efforts to improve. Don’t let fear and self-consciousness prevent you from creating! All artists struggle with something. 

I currently enjoy sketching my figures into a sketchbook, cutting out the image, and then adhering it to my canvas with matte medium. This time I actually made a photocopy for my work so I could keep the original.

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I didn’t photograph the process of creating my background. This particular piece was made by covering a canvas with an old sketch of mine, painting the image, then ripping off strips of the paper. I then laid down several washes to create the look I wanted for the floor and wall.

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I had my baby help me with the crayon scribbles because I wanted it to look authentic. I held his hand and helped him make the recognizable shapes. He loved this part and was really upset when he had to stop. (I’d like to add a note here for artists who are moms, or even artists who have day jobs and are crazy busy and never have time to paint: I did this painting largely in 15-20 minute bursts. I often fail to create because I think I don’t have time, but by carving out tiny chunks here and there, I was able to put my vision on canvas and still have time for my other roles. When my baby got tired of playing alone and couldn’t take it anymore, I just stopped. When my older son wanted me to play Minecraft with him, I’d tell him I was going to set a 20 minute timer and then spend time with him. I hope this is an encouragement for those of you who are struggling to fit it in as well!)

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I started layering paint when I had time. I tried out a new wet into wet technique using a mop brush (which is made out of goat hair and definitely smells like it). You can find the tutorial I used here. I don’t have an airbrush so I had to stop when my paint started drying. But just the small bit I did made a huge difference in my color blending!
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In the name of transparency, I will show you a failed attempt at fur. I used my palette knife to hold my paint and a tiny brush to try to add fur on the stomach and muzzle. No no no no. I had to cover all that up. It did not go well.

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To finalize the piece, I went over the scribbles that I wanted to stand out. Once I finished filling in my image, I went around the entire thing with a brown black outline.

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Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear if you try any of these techniques in your own work and tips for how you fit creativity into your days!

 

Fox Applique Tutorial and Pattern

This post is waaaaaay overdue, and I’ve been trying to work on it for months. I think I made my fox tee back in April. I don’t have any absolutely amazing photos of it, as creative documentation and I are sort of at odds with one another these days. I’m just excited to finally be sharing!

I’m gonna give a special shout out to my husband, who saved me from the pit of PDF-sharing ignorance and despair. And I’m dedicating this post to Mimi, who never gave up. 

Now that the credits are out of the way…

I give you the fox applique tutorial and pattern. You may remember this design from my *ahem* award-winning version of the Archie Doll.

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1. Print and cut.

If you’re making your own tee, the pattern I used is Dana’s Basic Tee. You can find my fox pattern here

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I did not include a pattern for eyes and a nose, but you guys should be able to figure that out. They’re just circles and a rounded triangle. 

Oh, and I should say that I did this applique with knit, so, when sewn, the edges will be left raw. And I sewed my applique onto my tee front *before* I assembled it, so that my t-shirt and sewing machine wouldn’t get into a fight. And use a ball-point needle!

2. Determine your placement and start sewing.

I don’t have pictures that get really specific about this, but pin on your first layer (the orange fox face), and sew the edges first. Then layer the whiskers and do the same thing. Now, I placed my whiskers a little high for my tastes, I meant to place them flush with the bottom of the fox face. So that’s the one change I’d make if I were doing this again. 

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3. Sew on the eyes and nose.

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4. Sew on the white ear pieces. And throw on some eyebrows for good measure.

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Then, if you’re making your own tee, assemble it. Boom, you’re done! 

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My shirt looks a little weird because I scaled up the pattern to a 5T, but I forgot to make the arms bigger. It doesn’t look as weird when Dex is wearing it. But if you resize a pattern, just remember to resize all the pieces!! 

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Dexter has worn this shirt like crazy for the past few months, mostly because I put it on him every single time it’s clean. 

I’d love to see if anyone recreates this! And, as usual, I’m cool with this being used for personal use, but not for monetary gain. 

Tiny Dresses and Bees

Dexter and I had a lovely evening at the park today. He was thrilled to find the entire area swarming with bumblebees. It was actually quite relaxing to watch them go about their buzzy business.

My mind has been preoccupied with lots of different types of bees lately… Particularly quilting bees.

I never manage to catch the beginning of a quilting bee, I just see blocks showing up on blogs I follow. So I’m toying with the idea of starting my own, although I honestly don’t know if I could come up with 12 interested quilters.

*If* I do this, these are the things I’m mulling over:

I’d definitely want it to be continental US only, because of shipping. During my research I saw some people say that there are 2 ways of doing things. You can either mail out fabric so you can control what goes into your quilt, or you can agree to use your own stash to create blocks for each quilt. The first option will be pricier. I am open to suggestions on that point.

I’ll also judge by interest whether to do a year long bee or a 6 month bee.

And I will be thinking about how many blocks each person should make, depending on the number of people interested and the agreement of quilt size and block number and size. (A typical bee consists of 12 members, 12 months, 1 block per person per month.)

So leave a comment if you’re interested in something like this. I will continue to update the status of the potential quilting bee when I have more info!

And for my followers who may not know about virtual quilting bees and really just keep up with my blog because you love me, tell me if you want more info. I didn’t go into what a quilting be really is because it’s getting late and I still want to watch TV with Alex :).

Finally, I made some dresses for my sister’s baby (Full disclosure, I may be more excited about this baby than any other baby besides my own. I LOVE the dickens out of all my nephews. But I’m really REALLY excited about this little girl person!) and I wanted to give a heads up that I will be putting out a tutorial and pattern for them very soon!

 

 

Felt Piglet Tutorial

We’re having a Winnie the Pooh craze around here. Craze may be putting it a little strongly, but Dexter is frequently Pooh, pretending to suck honey off his hand and telling me he’s spitting out bees. He asked the other day if I’d make him a piglet… so I paused for a half-second and said, “Sure!”

If you’d like to use the exact pattern* I traced out, here it is:

 
I’ll show below how to assemble him and how I drafted my pattern.
*1. Where the body meets the legs, use the top pink line. The lower one was a mistake I didn’t remove. *2. My pattern is not symmetrical. It just didn’t occur to me until it was too late. This will be most obvious on the ears, the inner parts need to match the correct ear, unless you care to correct that on your pattern.

You can do this with any character really. Piglet is pretty simple in that he’s almost entirely made up of 2 colors. I found a picture online, blew it up to the size I wanted, printed it… and realized it wasn’t quite as big as I’d expected. So I roughly traced around it to enlarge it.

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You can see that I did a lot of correcting throughout the whole process. I was flying by the seat of my pants and really didn’t spend anytime in the planning phase! But all of these corrections should be reflected in the PDF pattern.

I folded over my felt and traced the pattern onto the side of the fabric that would be on the inside. Then I cut out both layers together.

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Next, I went scrounging for fabric for clothing. I didn’t want to have to hem anything, so I used only felt and t-shirt scraps. I didn’t have any dark pink, and I felt like he just HAD to have stripes. I figured purple would work too. It’s a warmer purple than it looks in all these pictures.

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So, lay Piglet down where you’d like the stripes to fall. Again, fold your fabric, with the wrong sides facing out.

I used a Sharpie to mark the points at his neck and crotch, and then traced the sides of his tummy.

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You’ll get a an outline that looks like the picture on the left (if you do it without the pattern I linked). Then just connect all the lines, making a dip at the top for his chin.

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Then I turned all the pieces right-side-up and started building Piglet.

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Cut out all the facial features. He’s starting to look pretty cute! Also, he looks a little broader than normal, but when he’s stuffed, it turns out just right.

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Sew on all the dark pieces.

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Next, layer the snout.

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Then add the little nose triangle.

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Then sew the clothes to the front and the back. Remember, you have not put him together yet, your back piece should still be separate from the front.

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Flip the sides and trim off any excess t-shirt fabric. You’ll want to check the front side after you do this and make sure you trim the parts you can’t see from the back.

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Now you create your Piglet sandwich (hmm…) and sew around the outside, starting below one ear, and ending at the bottom of the next ear.

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Piglet’s head should be floppy and open like this:

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Stuff the arms and legs first, leaving it slightly soft where they connect to the body, so that he won’t be completely stiff. Then talk some little kid into stuffing the rest for you. Actually, he got tired of this pretty quickly and I had to finish. He just wanted to shred the stuffing.

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Then I stitched across the arm joint to give them a little range of motion. I didn’t bother doing this with the legs, but you’re welcome to try if it pleases you.

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Round the Polyfil at the top, keeping it clear of where seams will be. I didn’t put any stuffing in the ears.

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Sew around the curve of the head, still ignoring the ears.

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Pin the pink parts onto the ears. Keep in mind that if you used my pattern, the ear parts are not interchangeable.

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Sew around the edge of the dark pink, both attaching it to the ear and closing the ear openings.

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Then trim off the threads and he’s good to go!!

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The first thing Dex did was cram him down into a jar. Poor Pickled Piglet.

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And he felt like he needed to compare the pattern to see if they matched up.

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He now sleeps with Piglet every night, which is awesome. I should add that felt starts to look a little ratty when it’s handled by sticky hands everyday. Just a heads up.

There are lots of steps, but this was a pretty quick project. All told, it took me about 2 hours to complete, including drafting the pattern and taking pictures.

I’d love to see if anyone comes up with any other characters! I hope to make a Winnie the Pooh sometime! But then I’d probably lose it and end up making the whole Winnie the Pooh family. Felt is dangerous!

Felt Food Tutorial and Patterns

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Here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for… (there’s totally a drumroll)…

I learned to create patterns in pdf form!!!!

I’ve been saying I’d do this for the longest time. It really wasn’t as hard as I was worried it would be. One day I’ll post about that for the other chickens out there Smile .

Patterns:

You’ll notice that most of the patterns call for cutting 2 pieces of felt, even for something flat. This is for stability, because you can warp or even tear felt pretty easily.

I tried to keep everything simple. All the stitching is on the outside, there’s no flipping or turning things inside out. And I did everything by machine.

Assembly Tutorial:

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Cheese: Probably the easiest thing you’ll make in the felt food world. Cut 2 rectangles of felt, and sew them together. Tada! You’ve made cheese. You have some creative options here: you can change colors for different types of cheese slices (think off white with stitched sprinkles for Monterey Jack), oval for provolone, and if you want Swiss, my suggestion is to sew circles, and then trim the holes.

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Bacon and Eggs: Felt food must-haves! Cut 2 egg whites and 1 yolk for each egg. Sew the yolk onto one of the whites, leaving a small opening. Very lightly stuff the yolk with polyfil and close the opening. Then put your 2 egg whites together, with the yolk on the outside, and sew all the way around.

For the bacon slices, I only cut 1 layer, because I felt like those lighter strips would be secure enough. Cut your darker bacon slices and 2 lighter strips for each slice. Just freehand those stripes, there is no reason to try to conform them to a pattern, and I think it would be more difficult to do so. Lay the light strips on top of the darker fabric and stitch around the strips.

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PB&J Sammy: I wanted everything to be as simple as possible, so these bread slices are flat, flat, flat! For each slice, cut 1 dark piece (that will become the crust) and 2 lighter pieces. This was actually the most difficult thing I did, despite trying to keep simplicity in mind. Sandwich those 3 pieces (light, then dark, then light) and pin the layers. You want to stitch around the edges of the light felt, catching all 3 layers. One of my slices came out perfectly the first time. The other slice slipped and I had to redo it a couple of times.

For the peanut butter and jelly, cut 2 pieces each and sew together. Super easy.

If you want to go a little further, you could make sandwich meats out of circles and ovals. I also want to make lettuce and tomato slices one day, but I just didn’t bother this time. Dexter already has a wooden sandwich set anyway. 

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Broccoli: I had a lot of fun making the little veggies! I was inspired by Dana at MADE for the broccoli and chicken legs for sure. In fact, I was probably most inspired by her felt food, because I saw how simple it could be instead of trying to create incredibly detailed 3D models of food.

Back to the broccoli. For each piece, cut 2 stalks, and sew those together. Cut 2 florets, my recommendation is to cut ovals just slightly bigger than you want your floret to be. This is another time where freehanding is going to be easier on you.

Ok, I said oval, but what I did was more like a little mushroom cap. You take your 2 little mushroom cap shapes, and freehand a broccoli shape around the top, leaving the bottom open.

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Next, take a little bit of polyfil and stuff the top. Then poke your little stalk into the opening, and stitch it closed. Like this:

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(Bet you can’t tell that I’m sketching these out as I go…)

Then trim your broccoli tops, and you’re done!

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Beans/Peas: Cut your 2 pieces. Sew along the curved back, leaving the inner curve open. Ball up polyfil into 3 little pea-sized… well… peas. Or beans. Put them in a row inside your shell. Sew up the inner circle.

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Carrots: These go together like the broccoli pieces. Sew your little carrot tops together, then sew the carrots, leaving the top open. Stuff with polyfil, then put the stem inside the opening and stitch shut. Then, I ran these guys under my sewing machine to create the lines. It wasn’t super easy, I had to help them along. Don’t “help” them so much that you break a needle. But some light pressure should be ok.

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Chicken Legs: I’m in love with these little chicken legs. Sew the 2 meat parts together, leaving the bottom open. Sew the 2 bone pieces together, leaving the top open. Stuff both sections with polyfil. I stuffed these a little more firmly, leaving it a little softer at both of the openings. Insert the bone into the meat opening (Ok, I just realized how creepy meat assembly sounds!), and stitch across all layers. 

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Cookies: You can make different kinds of cookies. Whatever you make, sew the add-ons to the top before you sew and stuff the actual cookie (or if you plan to hand stitch, you can do the add-ons at any time). Then sew most of the way around the 2 cookie layers, stuff lightly (you don’t want these to be too puffy), and then sew across the opening.

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Pancakes: These were the first items I made, and I couldn’t find them when I did my photo shoot, AND I only took one phone picture of them before I gave them away. I did not think ahead to when I’d be doing a fancy-schmancy tutorial.

At the time, I did these a little differently than I would now. You can probably see the batting peeking through. That was before I realized that stuffing with polyfil works just as well and actually looks better.

For the pancakes, cut 2 pieces, sew most of the way around, stuff lightly with polyfil, and close ‘em up.

For the syrup, cut 2 pieces, sew together.

For the butter, cut 2 pieces, sew 3 sides, lightly stuff, sew the 4th side. (I feel silly for typing out all these directions, since most of them are “cut 2, sew together”, but I wanted this to be as easy as possible for anyone making them!)

Now, when I made these, I thought I had just created the most amazing thing ever. And then I found these on Etsy. I guess there are only so many ways to make felt pancakes!

Oh, I also indicated on the pancake pattern that this is also what I’d use to make a hamburger. And yet, I have not created a hamburger bun pattern. I will do that soon though, because my sister has requested a hamburger for her boys. I’ll probably tackle the lettuce and tomato slices at the same time.

Links:

Now, I promised links to all the felt food that inspired me, but it was extremely hard to go back and find those!! I will add what I found, and maybe this was all. I know for some of the items I just did my own thing, making them look the way I thought they should look. But I truly don’t want to take credit for something someone else did, so I am sorry if I missed a link!!!

Dana at Made (The cutest little almost-2D picnic set! And I just noticed she has bread slices in there too, so maybe that’s where I got that inspiration as well as the broccoli and drumsticks)

Pickle Things at Black Wagon (This is likely an inspiration for the cookies.)

Stitches by Krustal (I didn’t get my cheese from here- I don’t think that sad little cheese slices are particularly inspired, as they are just squares- but I plan to use this as a jumping off point for my future hamburger bun, because the style is very similar to my felt food philosophy. And if you don’t want to wait for my version, which will probably only be slightly different, this would be a good place to go for a simple bun.)

Now, go have fun felt-fooding it up!!

Postage Stamp Quilt Progress

We’ve been having a crazy couple of weeks! In order to de-stress, I finally started working on my postage stamp quilt. I finished cutting all my pieces… 3584 to be exact. Here they are all sorted and bagged into quadrants.
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I’m sewing duos right now, keeping them all strung together until I’m ready to iron them. IMG_8681

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Pairing my little squares has been a lot of fun! I know Mary at The Curious Quilter keeps hers pretty random. Unfortunately, had A LOT of duplicates, so I was a little picky about how to pair them. My goal is to keep duplicates from touching, and hopefully to keep fabrics that are very similar from touching. Plus, as I was pairing them up, I really liked the idea that each fabric would have a coordinating buddy in the all the chaos!

Because of all the duplicates and my vow to keep them apart, I’m having to go about the whole thing a little differently. I’m going to use Mary’s Classic Squares Tutorial as my piecing guide. but I’m doing all my duos in a quadrant first, then I’ll probably lay them all out and sort them into individual 64 square blocks, to try to spread out the duplicates. Tip: Take it from someone who now knows better- duplicates in a postage stamp quilt cause problems!! I now believe it’s better to have as many unique squares as possible, unless you are striving for a controlled pattern in your quilt.

Make Your Own Chalkboard

I have been wanting a chalkboard so badly, pretty much ever since Pinterest showed me how cool they are (peer pressure!). You can’t find them anywhere, unless you’re willing to order one online. And I really wasn’t. I’m never on the front end of a fad, and I’m not about to shell out much money for one now :).

So I started looking into making my own. Hence this tutorial. I’m gonna show you how to make your own chalkboard using chalkboard spray paint.IMG_8526

This works especially well if you’re creating a big chalkboard and are worried about keeping things smooth and even. There are other forms of brush-on chalkboard paint out there, and I considered them, but I was really worried that I’d make a mess of it. When I stumbled upon Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Spray Paint, I knew this would be my best bet. Now, I felt a little guilty, because I’d been reading Superfreakonomics, and I was in section about global warming, and I don’t know if spray paint is amazing for the environment. But I’d already bought it when it occurred to me, and I really really REALLY wanted my super cool chalkboard. So if you’re already ok with spray paint, go for it, if not, there is a tutorial for making a chalkboard with brush-on paint here.

1. Find your surface. I stumbled upon an old whiteboard in our garage, and I was super pumped. The frame was ugly, and if it starts to bother me I will paint it or reframe somehow, but I could not have found a better surface for my project! And it’s a good size, around 23”x46”.
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Clean the surface as well as you can. You don’t want any dirt or lint under your paint.

2. Protect your frame. Pitiful as mine may be, I still covered the frame with tape.
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3. Prime your surface. Just how imperative this step is, I do not know. But the guy at Home Depot recommended I do it, and I really didn’t want to waste my time and chalkboard paint, only have have it chip off. If you use a whiteboard like I did, the surface is going to be slick. Better to be safe than sorry! I used Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Primer in gray.
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Tips:

  • Spray outside or in a well ventilated area!
  • Put down a drop cloth if you care about the area you’re spraying in.
  • TAKE THE WIND INTO CONSIDERATION! I did not think about that, as I was spraying in my open garage. The day was very windy. I walked away and came back to my drop cloth on top of my board, which was also covered in a nice layer of dirt. Thankfully, it didn’t mess up the finished product, but it did cause me some panic.
  • If you’ve never used spray paint, it’s going to look crazy and splotchy at first (see above), but don’t worry, keep going back and forth as evenly as you can and you will cover the whole surface (see below).
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3. Apply your chalkboard paint. There are special instructions on the can for the chalkboard paint. You apply one coat, then 2 more light coats a few minutes apart. You’re then supposed to do this a second time, either within 1 hour or after 24 hours. I didn’t see the instruction about the “2 more light coats a few minutes apart.” I just waited about 20 minutes after the first coat and did a second one. And my chalkboard is fine.
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4. Be patient while your board dries. I only waited a couple of hours because I was too excited. The can says it’s dry to the touch after 1 hour and fully dry after 24 hours.

5. Peel off the tape. This was probably my favorite part because I love how you pull off the messy tape to reveal the crisp, beautiful finished product!

6. Go crazy-town on your new chalkboard!

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