Chalkboards are an easy way to express your inner artist

2014-07-26T10:00:00Z Chalkboards are an easy way to express your inner artistBy Gabrielle Fimbres Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

When Don Scheer and his wife, Tina

Owyoung, were creating their sweet little bakery last year, the Tucson couple wanted to do something exceptional with one towering blank wall.

They considered faux brick, but it proved to be pricey.

With a few cans of chalkboard paint, a couple of boxes of chalk and four solid days of creative labor, the Sugar Sweet Bakery chalkboard wall was born.

The 12-by-15-foot chalkboard serves as a conversation piece at this inviting bakery that opened last summer in Broadway Village, 18 S. Eastbourne Ave.

“Some customers want me to take their picture in front of it, and we’ve had a few selfies,” Scheer said. “It’s fun.”

He said he has not seen such a giant chalkboard wall in a home or business. “We knew we were being ambitious.”

Scheer did not paint the wall himself, but had it painted professionally with black chalkboard paint. He said the process was inexpensive and seemed as simple as painting a wall with latex and rollers.

Then came the hard part for Scheer — four days on the ladder, perfecting his chalk masterpiece.

“Small batch. Fresh baked. Always delicious.” Sugar Sweet’s words to live by decorate the chalkboard, along with: “When was the last time you had milk + cookies” and “It’s as good as you remember.”

Scheer and Owyoung worked in design for many years before opening the shop, and Scheer says he has always been fascinated by typography — the arrangement and appearance of printed matter. “I’ve loved lettering since grade school, and I was always drawing the Van Halen letters.”

This lettering project was epic.

“It was four days, up and down on the ladder,” he said. “I’d call my wife in for her ideas, but for the most part it was just me and a couple boxes of chalk.”

He also created three signs that hang above the counter, artistically advertising the cookies, brownies, cakes and other delights. Scheer purchased three decorative mirrors from Cost Plus and replaced the mirrors with wood. He painted the wood with chalkboard paint and then went to town with his chalk.

He created outdoor sandwich-board signs in similar fashion, directing customers to the bake shop.

Scheer said the process would be easy to replicate at home, and advises those considering it to give it a try.

“It’s easy and it’s erasable, so go for it,” he advised. “If you don’t like it you can erase it.”

Is his home filled with chalkboard art?

“No, I kind of got it out of my system here,” Scheer said.

Tucson dad Andy Morales painted all four walls of his daughter Brittney’s room with black chalkboard paint when she was at Canyon del Oro High School.

“I would have done it a lot earlier had I known how fun and rewarding it was for her to have such a big canvas to draw on,” Morales said.

The black walls made a great backdrop for the colorful chalk art and messages drawn by Brittney, her family and friends.

The process was simple, and painting over it after Brittney moved away was easy, as well.

“I would recommend it to anyone who wants their children to explore their artistic side,” Morales said.

Tucson mom Shelley Shelton got the idea for creating a chalkboard in her daughter Courtney’s room several years ago after watching an episode of “Trading Spaces.”

Shelton, a former reporter with the Arizona Daily Star, painted a small section of wall between her daughter’s bedroom door and closet.

“I used tape to block out the words COURTNEY 101 to give it sort of a playing-school feel,” she recalled.

She found using chalkboard paint to be easy and problem-free.

Courtney, who is now in college, kept her current month’s calendar on the wall, and she and her friends would doodle on it.

“It was just a fun thing – an easy way for her to feel like she was always in charge of decorating and redecorating her room,” Shelton said.

The Internet has an endless supply of inexpensive, creative ideas for using chalkboard paint, which can be purchased at craft, home-improvement and paint stores.

Richard French sells chalkboard paint to his customers in the paint department at Ace Hardware, 4722 E. Broadway. Most often it is parents looking to create a fun project in their child’s room or their kitchen, or teachers looking to create chalkboard tables or other items in their classrooms.

He said customers report that the process is an easy one. The store currently carries cans of green and black chalkboard spray paint for $7.49. He said one can covers about 20 square feet.

“Sprays are quicker to apply,” French said. “Brushes take longer.”

He said the same rules apply to chalkboard paint as apply to all paint. “Start with a clean, smooth surface, and it never hurts to use a primer,” French said. Depending on your surface, a couple of coats may be required.

Although he said customers do not report being bothered by chalkboard paint fumes, always work in a well-ventilated room.

“Customers seem to have fun with it, and it’s a good back-to-school project,” French said.

Contact local freelance writer Gabrielle Fimbres at gfimbres@comcast.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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