Preserve all your hard work and make your chalkboard chalk drawings permanent!
I am kind of ridiculously excited about today’s post, friends. I did a ton of research and experimentation on this and I’m so happy with the results. It answers a question that I think a lot of people have but there just wasn’t a good definitive answer out there…until now! And that question is, “Cassie, I spent a ton of time on this chalkboard drawing that I have hanging in my kitchen and I would be heartbroken if someone smudged it or erased it and I had to start over, is there any way to preserve it and make it permanent? Well yes! Now there is!
Chalkboards have been trendy for quite a while now and I personally don’t see them going anywhere soon precisely because they’re flexible and fun and you can change them up. Which might kind of make you wonder why this post is even necessary if the whole point of chalkboards is that you can erase them. Well, imagine you made a chalkboard seating chart for your wedding and you spent hours and hours on it and you want to save it as a memento. Or suppose you made one of these cute 4th of July chalkboard stars; it’s star shaped and has red, white, and blue accents, I think the likelihood that I’ll ever want to write anything besides, “Happy 4th of July” on it are fairly low. Or even something like my front door welcome chalkboard. It turned out super cute and I don’t really want to redo it.
Well, you say, “Why don’t you just use one of those chalk markers, Cass?” (You can call me Cass, we’re friends!) Ugh. Well, the answer is that while they don’t smudge off, they also DON’T LOOK LIKE CHALK. I mean besides being white. They don’t have the same texture as real chalk at all. So they’re fine if you like them, but it’s a different look. And it’s not chalky.
So, here’s what I tried and tested and what I came up with to preserve and protect those beautiful chalkboard drawings you spent hours on! Let me know if you try it!
Preserve and Protect your Chalkboard Chalk Drawings
I knew I definitely wanted to use some kind of spray because anything you brush onto a surface would surely disturb and smudge your hard work. So I bought or got out the following things to try:
And the results were surprising!
I could go on about this for an hour but I’ll try to keep it brief.
First up was the workable fixative which is what we used in art class in college. It protects drawings from smudging too much but you can still draw on top of it. Unfortunately, while it reduced chalk smudging, it still smudged. So I kept going.
Next I tried the Acrylic Clear Coat. Disaster. Avoid. It ate away at the chalk AND made the chalkboard shiny. No thank you.
Moving on, matte spray Mod Podge? How did I not know such a thing existed?! My main objection to Mod Podge has always been the brush strokes so a spray formula is awesome. I will definitely be using this for other projects in the future. That being said, it was ok, but it left the chalk spotty and it also smudged. And the winner, ding ding ding! Hairspray! I thought of trying this when I remembered that we would sometimes use hairspray on drawings in college when we ran out of fixative. And hairspray has the added bonus of being cheap, something you might already have at home and it’s not toxic so you can spray it inside! Want to know how to make your chalk drawings permanent? Ok, here’s how you do it…
First, it’s important to know that not all hairspray is created equal. I tried several different brands. This one was my favorite but I also had success with Pantene Alcohol Free “Air Spray”. However this was a disaster.
So, I believe that your hairspray needs to be:
-The first or second ingredient should be water, not alcohol. Alcohol free is great.
-Free of silicones (that includes ingredients like dimethicone or trimethicone)
*I obviously didn’t try every brand of hairspray out there but this is my best guess as to what made the good ones work. If you’re using a different brand, try it out on a sample drawing first! *
To make your chalk drawings permanent, lay your chalkboard out and carefully spray with a THIN even coat of hairspray from AT LEAST 10 inches away. Make sure you entirely cover the surface. The aerosol is important because it sprays small even droplets. A pump bottle will be less even and more likely to drip or leave marks. You really really really don’t want drips or big droplets.
Secondly, DON’T PANIC at first. It will probably look like the chalk is disappearing because the hairspray makes it wet. But seriously, don’t freak out.
Wait 10-15 minutes for the hairspray to fully dry and during that time, do not touch your chalkboard. You’ll be amazed to see your drawing re-appear as the hairspray dries!
When the hairspray is completely dry, your drawing is protected.
However with all of the methods that I tried, the sprays pretty much obliterated the whitish smudgy background that we all love about chalkboards. So to bring that back, rub the side of a piece of chalk all over your chalkboard and rub it in with a tissue. That will give the background that nice chalky smudgy texture but it won’t disturb your original drawing.
And that’s it! You’re done!
What if you want part of your drawing protected and part of it erase-able? Draw the permanent part first, follow this method to protect it and then proceed to draw on the rest of the chalkboard like you usually would right on top of the hairspray! That part will still erase like normal!
(A note, if anyone’s curious since we’re using a water-based hairspray, I tried wiping it off with a damp rag. With a bit of vigorous scrubbing, the drawing was fainter but it did not come off, so this method is not easily reversible.)
If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…