Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chalkboard Labeling

Today's post starts with a question: what's the best way to combine the fourth-best part of elementary school, rustic interior decorating, and reusable storage containers?  That's right--labeling with chalkboard paint!  We like this method more than labeling with the commercial label makers because it's easier to "edit" the label if you change what's in the container and doesn't require a fancy tool or adhesive paper that would have to be thrown away.  We've had good luck with chalkboard labels on the two-gallon glass containers that store our staple foodstuffs like flour and sugar, and also on a scuffed-up dry-erase board that now displays our grocery and to-do lists next to the kitchen so we can easily remember them.  We decided to add chalkboard labels to some of our other containers (like wine bottles) using chalkboard paint, so we thought we'd document the process and show you how we did it!


Here's our starting point: formerly a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck that we "emptied," washed, and filled with our own blend of homemade elderberry-grape wine.  We defaced the label to reflect the bottle's current contents, vintage, and brewery location, but it doesn't look very classy.  Time to start fresh!
First step: remove the label(s).  A little hot water and the brown hard plastic scraper on the right worked pretty well.  Don't forget to write down any information you need from the label because the process takes several days.
Next, mark the points you want to be the corners of your label.  At this point, we realized that it would be hard to see dark marks on a bottle filled with dark liquid, so we decided to do another (empty) bottle, too.
If you have a lot of bottles to do that you want to do all uniformly, it might save a little time to make a series of templates so you don't have to measure each one.
Add tape around the dots you made, or affix your template to the bottle.  Make sure there are no gaps in the tape or template, or the paint will run through.  For example, the left side of the template in the picture above has a gap, so after the photo was taken, we put tape slightly inside the opening to close it up.
Now get out your chalkboard paint and pretty much follow the directions on the label.  If you want colors other than black, there are ways to do it.  Also, if you know of a more sustainable paint option, let us know!
It will probably take more than one coat.  There's a fine line between too thin and too thick (enough to drip), so you'll have to practice a little to get a feel for it--keep an eye on it to check for drips.  The one on the left is just about right, the one on the right is a little too thin.  It's really apparent here because the one on the left has a dark liquid in the bottle and is a little drier than the one on the right, but you get the idea.  Our can of paint said it needed three days before we could write on it.  So we waited...
Finally!  It's totally dry.  We took the tape off after one day.  Doesn't look to bad!  But, you can see that in a couple places where we weren't careful with the tape, the paint ran underneath a little bit.
It's not too hard to scrape the rogue paint off with something sharp.
That looks a little better!
Our paint's instructions said to coat the whole thing in a layer of chalk before writing on it for the first time.  You can see now that the one on the right isn't quite as even as the one on the left because we made the second coat of paint a little too thick.  But it should work OK for our purposes.
Remove the majority of the chalk layer with an eraser or a dry rag, and your labels are ready to go!  You can write whatever you'd like on them
You could paint the whole house if you want!  (But ask Katie first.)

Have you found another way to make good looking labels on label-needing things around your house?  Do you have an easier way to do chalkboard labels?  Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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