Nothing is more fun than trying out new (to us) products! So today we’re showing you how to paint with chalk paint, use a silkscreen stencil and create your own grain sack stripe with tape! Using unfamiliar products can be a little intimidating so we’ll take you through this beginner project step-by-step to build your confidence!
Why are we so excited about trying chalk paint? For one, Dixie Belle kindly sent us the chalk mineral paint and products we’re using. I’ve always wanted to try Dixie Belle because I’ve never worked with chalk paint. Can you believe that? Most importantly though, is the fact that there are no VOCs in the paint! Now that summer is behind us, we won’t be able to paint outdoors much longer. But because it’s non-toxic and odourless, I can still paint indoors with Dixie Belle’s line of mineral chalk paint. That a win-win for the environment AND for us!
As if that wasn’t already exciting enough, we also got news this week that Birdz of a Feather is on the Amara award shortlist for Best Creative Skill Blog! Thank you to everyone who voted for us during the nomination period. We’re just thrilled be on the shortlist!
Watch the Video!
Whenever we’re thrifting, I always check out the wood decor section.
To my delight, we found a modern version of a clock I previously did a decoupage on wood treatment on for a Canadian TV show called ‘Trash to Treasure’.
Because chalk paint is new to us, we’re starting out with a fairly easy project; upcycling this thrifted clock into a decor shelf. I’ve been wanted to try this for ages!
Just for fun, not only did we experiment with brushing it on chalk paint, but we also sprayed it. Then we decorated the backing with a hand-taped grain stack stripe, while the clock face got a mandala silkscreen stencil treatment! I learned so much upcycling this piece that I can’t wait to share with you!
Hubs brought home the beautiful bunch of flowers you see below to celebrate our Amara shortlist. He’s so thoughtful :)!
Before Chalk Painting
Make your paint life easier and remove ALL the hardware! First remove the door from the clock by unscrewing the hinges. We also remove the clock face. Be sure to keep all hardware and screws in a Ziploc (or container) to reassemble later.
We often work on several different projects at once so I’ve gotten into the habit of labeling each Ziploc and putting it in a place where I can find it again. I can’t tell you how many times Hubs has lost his hardware, then spends days looking for it again when his piece is done! There’s nothing more frustrating that being delayed in putting a piece back together when you can’t wait to see how it looks.
The back was not removable, so Hubs cut paint sticks to cover the back of the clock case and cover the hole left by the clock works. Since Hubs is a professional painter, we always have extra paint sticks around and save them to use in projects like this paint stick pallet.
Once the paint sticks are cut and fit in place, we’re almost ready to clean.
Remove Paint Sticks
It’s easier to chalk paint the backing when it’s not in the clock.
So place two pieces of tape on either side of the paint sticks, as shown, and lift them out of the clock in one piece.
Add two strips of tape on the back, and number the paint sticks. Then flip it over and remove the tape from the front. Set it aside.
Materials for How to Paint with Chalk Paint
* [If you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered (disclosure): Clicking on the affiliate links below means we may receive a commission. But don’t worry, you don’t pay a cent more and it helps us make more unique crafts to share with you! Thanks for helping to support our blog!]
- Thrifted clock
- Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint – Driftwood and Midnight Sky
- White Lightning cleaner
- Dixie Belle Clear Coat Satin
- Dixie Belle Belles and Whistles Silkscreen Stencil – Mandala
- Plastic razor blade scraper
- Paint brush
- Fine spray water mister
- Lazy Susan
- Painter’s tape
- Recycled paint sticks
How to Paint with Chalk Paint
I’ll be painting with two Dixie Belle colours: Driftwood, a light grey, and Midnight Sky, a deep inky-almost-black blue. Chalk paint doesn’t need a topcoat, but I’m going to try the clear coat satin on the paint sticks.
I’m also using White Lightning to clean the clock. White Lightning is essentially a TSP (trisodium phosphate) cleaner that you dissolve into water.
1. Clean with White Lightning
White Lightning will not only clean but help de-gloss the surface of this clock. Mix it up into a spray mister bottle, being sure to label the bottle so you know what’s in there!
You really can’t tell how dirty a thrifted item is until you clean it. Someone had even written the initials B.S. onto the clock with a red wax pencil. I’m not BS-ing you when I say both the dirt and initials came right off.
I spray, and wipe the clock. Then I come back with a new cloth and wipe it down with fresh water again to remove the residue. Don’t forget this important step or your paint might not adhere properly.
Because the finish is so shiny, if this was a piece of furniture, we’d also scuff sand with 220 grit sandpaper. This will dull the shine and help with paint adhesion. As you’ve seen us do before, we lightly dampen a rag (or sometimes an old sock) to wipe and remove the dust.
2. Tape off what You Don’t Want to Paint
Use painters tape to mask the glass on the sides of the clock and the door. Here’s our trick for perfect coverage. Lay the tape along the edges, but don’t worry about overhang.
Come back with a hobby knife and cut all edges even with the glass.
Notice that I have the clock sitting on a lazy Susan? That makes it so much easier to rotate the clock when I’m ready to paint a new side! I cover it with a piece of brown paper to keep it clean from paint drips.
Now we’re ready to paint!
3. Brush Dixie Belle Chalk Paint
Dampen your brush with water first. I find a mister bottle, like the one below, is perfect for this. Dip the brush right into the container of chalk paint and brush away. If you find the paint is too thick, spray your brush again before you dip. It’s better to do several light coats than a heavy one. Finish with long strokes with the grain.
Now eyeball your piece! What I mean by that is when you think you’re done brushing, quickly go back and closely inspect the nooks and crannies for paint that may have pooled. Lightly brush those out; you shouldn’t see any blobs or drips of paint in your finish!
Here’s another tip: paint the colour(s) you use onto a paint stick to keep as samples. Don’t forget to write the colour onto the back. Then you can drill a hole into one end and keep them all together on a beaded chain.
With lighter colours, you’ll need at least two coats of chalk paint. I wait 30 minutes between coats. Then I peel off the tape.
Troubleshoot Chalk Paint on Glass
If you find some of the paint seeped under the tape onto the glass, no worries! After the paint is dry, take a plastic razor blade scraper, like I’m showing below, and scrape the paint right off the glass. It will come right off! These plastic blades have tons of household uses, like how to remove a sticky label from glass.
You can also distress chalk paint with sandpaper after it’s dry. I lightly sanded back this molding.
Don’t forget to paint the backing for the next step! But try to keep the paint off the edges if you cut the paint sticks to fit tightly. My paint sticks became too big to fit back into the clock and I had to sand all the outer edges down! In retrospect, it’s probably a good idea to cut them a bit smaller to begin with!
4. Apply Decorative Treatment
Grain Sack Stripe
For our clock shelf, I’m showing you how to achieve two different stencil effects.
The first stencil is a grain sack stripe done with painter’s tape. First, figure out your spacing. For the centre, I mark a 1″ stripe down the middle and tape on either side.
Then I leave a 3/8″ space and tape another 1/4″ stripe on either side of centre.
You will find that if you just lay a piece of tape from one side to the other, the edge will be wonky. So here’s our trick for perfectly straight stripes. Lay a ruler on your marks and weigh down with something heavy like a can of tomatoes or vintage iron. The ruler will help guide the edge of your tape. That is exactly the method we used for this Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket Inspired Upcycle. Watch the super quick video below to see how to stripe perfection:
Before painting with chalk paint, burnish the edges well – especially between the paint stick gaps.
With darker chalk paint colours, one coat is usually sufficient. Once dry, peel the tape away from the stripes.
Mandala Silk Screen Stencil
After removing the clock face, I pry it from the wood backing.
The glue residue looks like it will be hard to sand so I’m using the other side. However, the wood is very rough so I suspect a silk screen stencil won’t work on this type of surface. I just can’t resist trying this gorgeous mandala stencil out anyway. First, tape a hinge to the back.
Then I position the stencil on the front. A perfect fit; it’s like this stencil was meant for this clock shelf!
Once in position, I lift the stencil so I can peel off the backing and then stick it back down again.
Dixie Belle’s silkscreen stencils come with their own squeegee applicator.
Dip it into the chalk paint. Then scrape it over the stencil ensuring you have even coverage.
Because of a combination of rough wood and thin paint, the paint bleeds. Just as I suspected. But I still think it looks gorgeous – and there’s an easy solution to remedy this that I’ll show you below.
Immediately wash the stencil with soap and water and let it dry sticky side up on a paper towel. When dry, you can return it to the backing – sticky side down. Silkscreen stencils are reusable multiple times as long as you’re careful to rinse all the paint out of the screen!
Mandala Stencil – 2nd Attempt
With new products, I love to experiment and have fun in the process! As you’ll see further ahead, we cut a new piece of wood but this time we spray on the base colour.
Although I’m tempted to try one of the other two mandalas that come in the Belles and Whistles package, I’m sticking with the original one. That’s so I show you a side by side comparison.
Below, I’m letting the chalk paint thicken up before I squeegee it through the silkscreen stencil. Unlike my first attempt, my wood substrate is perfectly smooth – no rough grain to contend with!
And look at the difference those two simple fixes make in this side-by-side of my two mandalas!
In comparison, the results are pretty stunning; clean crisp detail.
Lessons Learned – Silkscreen Stencil
So here’s my advice when using a silkscreen stencil like this mandala:
- Paint on a smooth substrate. Deeply grained wood will bleed.
- If your chalk paint is a bit too watery, scoop some out of the container and let it thicken before using it. Don’t forget, if it evaporates too much and becomes too thick, you can thin it out again with a little water. Easy peasy!
- Clean your stencil immediately after using and ensure the silkscreen is free from paint residue.
Next time, I’ll be more mindful to clean the silkscreen stencil right away. And, if I squeegee again, I’ll let the chalk paint thicken up a touch more. However, I’d also like to try using a stencil brush to see if I like it better than the squeegee.
I know I’m jumping ahead, but doesn’t the mandala stencil look lovely in the clock case? As soon as I get some tiny hinges, I’m going to turn the upper part of the clock shelf into a ‘secret’ compartment. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody!
5. Clear Coat if Desired
As I mentioned, you don’t have to seal chalk paint. However, I wanted to try Dixie Belle’s Clear Coat Satin. Brush, roll or spray on very light coats. I only did one coat since the back won’t get much handling, but you can apply up to 3 light coats. It will look shiny while wet, but the one coat I applied dried pretty matte which I love.
After allowing the clear coat to dry, place the paint sticks back into the clock. If you wish, you can glue them down. Our fit is so tight, we didn’t bother with glue.
Before we get to the reveal of the clock shelf, let’s see discuss how to spray chalk paint!
How to Spray Chalk Paint
As someone who LOVES to paint, I had to try chalk paint in an HVLP paint sprayer! Check out our post on How to Paint Using a Spray Gun to get Hub’s professional paint sprayer tips and tricks! If he can teach me how to spray paint, you can do it too!
Since chalk paint is too thick to spray through a paint gun as-is, it needs to be thinned out first. Thin Dixie Belle chalk paint by using Floetrol, water or a combination of both. Generally the ratio is 4 parts paint to 1 part thinner. However, you may notice that some of your chalk paints are thicker than others, so this isn’t an exact science.
Our advice is to mix in enough thinner to allow it to run freely through a paint strainer. If it strains easily, you won’t have a problem with flow through the paint gun. It’s also a good idea to use a larger tip. We’re using a paint sprayer with a 2.3 mm tip.
After cutting an extra scrap of wood, we’re spraying it with Driftwood so I can try stencilling the mandala again. Dixie Belle paint sprays on beautifully! Again, you’ll need two light coats for the best coverage with a light colour like Driftwood.
I let it dry overnight to try the mandala again in the morning.
Chalk Paint Reveal
I love the combination of the mandala stencil and grain sack stripe on this clock shelf! So don’t be afraid to mix patterns!
You can choose to leave the door off and use it elsewhere as a picture frame.
Or put the glass door back on for dust free display of a treasured item. If I keep the door on, I feel like I need to raise the deer a bit (or find something else to display)!
What do YOU think: door off or door on?
Pin Clock Shelf
Pinning is always welcome and appreciated!
FAQs About Chalk Paint
Here are the answers to your questions about Dixie Belle Mineral Chalk Paint.
Do you need to seal Dixie Belle Paint?
The choice is yours! After 30 days, Dixie Belle chalk paint will be fully cured and durable so there’s no need to seal. However, you can add Dixie Belle’s clear coat satin or gloss over top to give your finish a different sheen. You can also add Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax which will deepen lighter colours and soften the feel of the paint, leaving a buttery finish.
Does Chalk Paint Scratch Easily?
When chalk paint is still fresh, it can scratch if handled too much before it has time to cure. After 30 days, chalk paint is fully cured and durable. If you can’t wait that long, apply a top coat, such as Dixie Belle’s Clear Coat Satin (or gloss if you want to change the sheen). For high traffic areas, or if a water repellant is needed, use Gator Hide. Apply up to three light coats.
How to Apply Chalk Paint
What is the best way to apply chalk paint?
You can brush, roll or spray Dixie Belle Chalk Paint; the choice is up to you! If brushing, use a water dampened synthetic brush. To spray, thin the chalk paint with water or Floetrol at a ratio of 4 parts paint to one part thinner. This isn’t an exactly science so use a paint strainer when using an HVLP sprayer
Is Dixie Belle Chalk Paint Good?
I can honestly say it’s the best in the world because it’s the only chalk paint I’ve ever tried! But all joking aside, I love how it goes on smoothly, self levels and dries without brush strokes. It’s also a dream to spray when properly thinned with water and/or Floetrol.
Clean up is a breeze too. It’s the easiest paint to clean up with a little soap and water. But the best thing? Since it has no VOCs, I can use it indoors.
So the verdict is in. I’m so impressed with its performance that you’ll be seeing more chalk painted projects on Birdz of a Feather! I hope you follow along on the journey as we discover new chalk paint techniques and work our way up to painting more and more difficult projects.
Troubleshooting Chalk Paint
Why is my chalk paint not sticking?
Prep is everything. You can’t get away without cleaning first! If you’ve properly prepared you piece, you won’t have this issue. Use a tsp product, such as Dixie Belle’s White Lightning before painting. But here’s the trick. It will leave a residue behind that can resist paint, so you have to wipe it again with a new cloth dampened in fresh water.
Do you need to prime before using chalk paint?
In most instances, as long as you prep with White Lightning as described directly above, you shouldn’t have a problem. However, for more difficult surfaces, use BOSS. BOSS is a water based product with all the properties of a shellac-based primer. When you prime first with BOSS, it seals in odours, stains and stops bleed through. We find it indispensable on woods such as mahogany that tend to bleed.
If working on a surface that’s slick and shiny, use Slick Stick to prime first to give the paint something to grip too.
Do you have to sand with Dixie Belle Chalk Paint?
No, you don’t have to sand. But you can do a light scuff sand and also apply a clear coat or wax if you wish for the smoothest finish. Dixie Belle Mineral Chalk paint dries to a full cure in 30 days.
How long does Dixie Belle Chalk Paint take to dry?
Let Dixie Belle Mineral Chalk paint dry 30 minutes between coats. we prefer to let the chalk paint dry overnight if I’m going to embellish with one of Dixie Belle’s silkscreen stencils.
Dixie Belle Silkscreen Stencils
How do you use Dixie Belle silkscreen stencils?
If the chalk mineral paint is too thin, scoop some out of the jar into another plastic container and allow the paint to evaporate and thicken while prepping the stencil. Ensure your surface is perfectly smooth before painting a base coat of Dixie Belle mineral chalk paint.
If using a light colour, wait 30 minutes and chalk paint a second coat. Allow second coat to dry for 30 minutes. Then position your stencil and tape along one side to act as a hinge. Lift the stencil, peel the backing and position the stencil in place. The light adhesive will help the stencil stick, but won’t affect the chalk paint. Use the plastic tool that come with the stencils to ‘squeegee’ the paint through the screen. Ensure the chalk paint completely covers the background colour showing through the silkscreen. Once done, peel the stencil and allow to dry. Wash the stencil immediately and allow to dry on a paper towel sticky side up.
How many times can you use Dixie Belle Silkscreen stencils?
If properly taken care of, Dixie Belle’s silkscreen stencils can be washed and reused up to 10 times. Pay special attention to wash all paint out of the silkscreen areas. Then dry sticky side up on a paper towel. Once dry, return the silk screen stencil to the backing, sticky side down for storage.