Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Awesome and simple way to spruce up your office

As our company has recently acquired a new office, we were faced with the daunting task of sprucing up the place and channeling a creative atmosphere. We thought it may be of interest to have something that represents China in an interesting and useful way. A chalkboard in the shape of china was decided, and I started to plan how we would carry this out.

This is a fun way to spice up your office with little hassle and with next to no cost. The materials are easy to find and most are probably already in the office. I've also included an explanation of how to make a stencil with only an A4 printer

When I made ours we were unsure of exactly what size we wanted it to be so I ended up making 3 versions (which is why I feel like a pro enough to tell you how it’s done!) In fact it was a bit like the story of Goldilocks in the sense that the first was too small, the second too big and the third (finally!) was just right.

How to create the stencil for a blackboard in your home or office:

You will need:

  • Wall space 
  • Blackboard paint (I used this paint
  • A printer 
  • Scissors/craft knife 
  • Sticky Tape 
  • A large and small paint brush 
  • Blu-tack or making tape 

Step one: Choose the right space on the wall.

This is really important as it needs to be accessible and look good! Size is important as you want it to be big enough to write on. Luckily for us, China is shaped like a big chicken, with lots of space for writing

Step two: Trace your shape of choice.

I found an image of china on the internet. I then traced this using a simple line tool on Photoshop, so that I had a high quality black and white version to be printed (If you want to save time and are not bothered about using lots of ink you could just use the original image from the internet).

Step three: Print your image.

I opted to use Microsoft Publisher for this as I knew it had a setting to print on a large scale with the dimensions of my choice. Alternatively you can just use paint and select: Print >Page Setup: Under ‘Scaling’ you can select ‘fit to’ and change it to spread across more pages (eg. 5x5 pages) With this method you should work out your size by multiplying the size of an a4 page (210 x 297mm)

Step four: Putting together the stencil.

I did this using tape. MAKE SURE TO KEEP YOUR PAGES IN ORDER, so that you can lay them out one by one next to each other. I found it useful to number my pages and then have a singe print to reference. My pages had a slight border to them which I trimmed away. After laying them out on the floor I taped the pages together.

Step five: Reinforce!

Re-enforce your edges. What I did was stick tape over the lines that I would cut over. This makes the edges less flimsy and also stops the paper from getting really wet when you apply the paint.

On the larger version it was necessary to re-enforce the stencil as it was so flimsy. I did this with extra bits of cardboard around the stencil borders. The larger your stencil, the more you will need to re-enforce it.

Step six: Cut the stencil out.

Cutting the stencil out can be a little fiddly depending on how detailed you choose to go. I started off using a craft knife, but then switched to scissors (however scissors were hard with all of the wrist twisting!)

Step seven: Stick up the stencil.

I used sticky-tack to hold my stencil but masking tape probably would be fine. If it is a larger size I would use a fair bit of masking tape to hold it on securely. Stickyack or masking tape is a must for the detailed edges of the stencil as we don't want any paint getting underneath.

Step eight: Paint!

Make sure to prepare your surface, and follow instructions on your paint can. I used normal blackboard paint, but if you can get the proper spray-paint that would work equally well. I painted the middle section first and then worked my way to the edges. A smaller brush is best for the detailed spots. I found that dabbing my paintbrush with a little paint over the edges worked better than slapping a lot of paint on as there were some areas that got blotchy.

Step nine: Admire your masterpiece.

Leave it to dry with the stencil attached and then remove it once dry to admire your finished piece!

What do you think about our new blackboard? Any ideas of some other creative uses?

If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the box below

Here are some other articles that you may find interesting. Maybe a blackboard fridge would look good in our office and make use of the rest of our blackboard paint!

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