How to Paint with Chalk Paint – Clock Shelf

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!

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Watch the Video!

Clock Shelf

Whenever we’re thrifting, I always check out the wood decor section.

Wood decor section of thrift store

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!

hand holding clock before how to paint with chalk paint

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 :)!

After of clock for how to paint with chalk paint

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.

Thrifted clock with door open that's being used for how to paint with chalk paint

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.

Hand fitting a paint stick into the back of the clock.

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.

Paint stick backing prepared with two pieces of blue tape down the sides for how to paint with chalk paint

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!]

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.

Clock on top of brown paper and lazy Susan ready to paint for how to paint with chalk paint

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!

Hand brushing the clock with a paint brush with mister bottle in the foreground for how to paint with chalk paint

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.

Lightly distressed molding on clock shelf for how to paint with chalk paint

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.

Hinged Dixie Belle Belles and Whistles silkscreen mandala stencil ready to stencil on a piece of wood for how to paint with chalk paint.

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.

Dixie Belle Belles and Whistles silkscreen mandala stencils the three different stencils that come in the package for how to paint with chalk paint. Chalk painted black on grey background mandala pattern also shown with jar and empty plastic container.

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!

Dixie Belle Belles and Whistles silkscreen mandala stencil showing stencil beside first attempt for how to paint with chalk paint. Black chalk paint in a container with a spoon in front of closed container of chalk paint. Black on grey background mandala pattern.

And look at the difference those two simple fixes make in this side-by-side of my two mandalas!

Dixie Belle Belles and Whistles silkscreen mandala stencil showing a side by side comparison of two attempts for how to paint with chalk paint. Black on grey background mandala pattern.

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:

  1. Paint on a smooth substrate. Deeply grained wood will bleed.
  2. 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!
  3. Clean your stencil immediately after using and ensure the silkscreen is free from paint residue.

Dixie Belle Belles and Whistles silkscreen mandala stencil drying beside a chalk painted example fort how to paint with chalk paint. Black on grey background mandala pattern.

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.

Finished clock shelf for how to paint with chalk paint shown without door

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?

Finished clock shelf for how to paint with chalk paint shown with door

Pin Clock Shelf

Pinning is always welcome and appreciated!

Pinnable clock shelf image for how to paint with chalk paint

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.

39 thoughts on “How to Paint with Chalk Paint – Clock Shelf

  1. Oh WOW, Sara. How lovely. That stencil fits perfectly in that space and it’s so dramatic. WRT the door, I think off. Maybe it’s the gold that distracts from the rest.

    • I think you’re right! I’ll just have to get out the duster every once in a while – lol! I have tons of ideas for the door too 🙂

    • Thanks so much Laura; we’ll definitely be using chalk paint again – we loved using it!

    • Thanks so much Ellen! We had so much fun experimenting with it and I can’t wait to use it again :). I know it’s your specialty, but I have an idea that’s been brewing for a while to try it on cement too. You know how I love to think outside the box – lol!

  2. I love how you upcycled your clock. I’ve been on the look-out for something like this myself but have had no luck yet. The stencil is the icing on the cake – I’m a stencil lover too!

    • Thanks Jayne! I see these all the time at thrift stores so hope you come across one. If you love stencils, this type of clock is ideal; it’s like the silkscreen was custom made for the clock.

    • Thanks Kimberly and you’re welcome! Our most often-asked question is how to prevent bleed through on stencils so I’m happy to hear you found that most helpful. We love showing how to troubleshoot :).

  3. The clock upcycle is fabulous, Sara, and such a clever repurpose. I think it looks better without the glass, only because of the gold border. I remember the first time I tried Dixie Belle paint and was so impressed by the coverage. Excellent tutorial, as always!

    • Thanks so much Marie! I agree with you about the glass (so far it’s a consensus)! I already have something else in mind for it – lol!

      I’m pretty smitten with chalk paint after this first project too. I’ve got an abundance of ideas, so there will definitely be more chalk paint projects to come!

  4. Love how this shelf came out! Especially the grainsack stripe. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Olivia! I love added stripes and pattern 🙂

    • Thanks Karin! We love stripes and pattern around here 🙂

  5. What a beautiful job, Sara! The paint shows great coverage and the stencil is pure perfection! Happily pinned to my Pinterest boards.

    • Thank you Meegan! Hubs is a professional painter and he was impressed with the coverage too.

  6. What a great makeover – so good to change things up and enjoy them.

    • Thanks Rosemary – I’ve had that clock for a while waiting for inspiration to strike. I guess good things really do come to those that wait lol!

    • Thanks so much Marie and yes, we love experimenting with new products 🙂

  7. The clock became very beautiful I have a recycled clock hosting some miniature furniture and bakery in size 1:12. I have the door on.

    • Thank Ritta! Miniature furniture sounds wonderful! Great idea.

  8. This is a great detailed tutorial. It’s a post right up my alley. Thanks for sharing on Traffic Jam Weekend at! I’d love to have you come share on my other link parties, Happiness is Homemade (Sun-Thurs) & You’re the Star Blog Hop (month long with new feature posts every Monday). I think our readers would enjoy this.

    • Thanks so much Niki! I definitely check out your other parties 🙂

  9. Love this, and silly me, I left you a message on instagram, but you got there because you did come to the party, great to see you!

  10. I have used chalk paint before but I still learned so much from your post. I have also purchased Dixie Belle paint but have yet to use it but everyone raves about the product. Thanks for linking up this week. #HomeMattersParty

    • So happy to hear our chalk paint post was informative Donna! You really should try the Dixie Belle paint; I love it! You’ll have to let me know what you think once you do :).

  11. I love what you did with this clock, really cool repurpose. That wood carving deserves a mention it is really cool.

    • Thanks Anita! It was a fun upcycle to try chalk paint on!

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