How to Use a Silk Screen Stencil With Chalk Paint



Introduction: How to Use a Silk Screen Stencil With Chalk Paint

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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 mineral paint? The fact that there are no VOCs in the paint means it's non-toxic and odourless. So we can still be creative and paint indoors through the winter. That a win-win for the environment AND for us!


Step 1: Thrifting a Clock

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!

Step 2: Remove Hardware

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.

If you have to cut the last piece lengthwise, be sure to clamp it to a workbench, then you can use a jigsaw. Use some sandpaper if necessary to sand any rough edges.

Tip: don't make the same mistake we did and cut the pieces to fit perfectly. Leave a little wiggle room because when you paint it, the size will grow!

Step 3: Prep the Paint Stick Backing

Once cutting the paint sticks and fitting them in place, we're going to remove them again. It’s easier to chalk paint the backing when it’s not in the clock.

Place two pieces of tape on either side of the paint sticks, as shown in the 2nd pic, and lift them out of the clock in one piece.

Flip it over, adding two more strips of tape on the back, and number the paint sticks. Then flip it over to the front again and remove the tape from the front. Set it aside to paint later.

Step 4: Clean Your Clock

I’m using White Lightning to clean the clock. White Lightning is essentially a TSP (trisodium phosphate) cleaner that you dissolve into water. 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 and save it for another use! Always wear gloves when you used TSP; it's an irritant. There are other, safer alternatives like a small amount of dish soap and water or vinegar and water.

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.

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.

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 may have seen us do before, we lightly dampen a rag (or sometimes an old sock) to wipe and remove the dust.

Step 5: Tape Off

Tape off what you don't want to paint. For instance, 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.

Tip: 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!

Step 6: Brush Chalk Paint

I'm painting with two chalk paint colours: Driftwood, a light grey, and Midnight Sky, a deep inky-almost-black blue. This particular chalk paint doesn’t need a topcoat, but I’m going to try the clear coat satin on the paint sticks.

I prefer a synthetic mini angle brush for painting small objects like this because I can get right into corners, but it also works great on the flat areas. Dampen your brush with water first. I find a mister bottle, like the one in the first picture above, is perfect for this because you don't want to soak the brush. Dip the brush right into the container of chalk paint and brush it onto the surface. 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.

Step 7: How to Remove Paint From 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 in the first pic above, 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 the molding (2nd pic).

Don’t forget to also paint the backing with Driftwood 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, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to cut them a bit smaller to begin with!

Step 8: Apply Grainstack

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 above to see how to get perfect stripes.

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.

Step 9: Mandala Silk Screen Stencil (1st Try)

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 half the tape to the back to make a 'hinge' (2nd pic).

Then I position the stencil on the front and bring the other half of the tape around 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 in the next step so your stencilling turns out perfect.

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!

Step 10: Troubleshooting Painting With a Silk Screen Mandala Stencil

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.

Above, 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 (3rd pic)! In comparison, the results are pretty stunning; clean crisp detail.

Step 11: Lessons Learned - Silkscreen Stencillng

After trying chalk paint with a silk screen mandala stencil for the first time, here’s my advice when using a stencil like this:

  1. Paint on a smooth substrate. Deeply grained wood will bleed as you see with my first sample.
  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.

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. 

Step 12: Clear Coat If Desired

After 30 days, Dixie Belle chalk paint will be fully cured and durable so there’s no need to seal. However, you can add a clear coat satin or gloss over top to give your finish a different sheen. On the grain sack back, I added a 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!

Step 13: 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 smooth 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.

Step 14: 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.

Step 15:

Hubs brought home the beautiful bunch of flowers you see above to celebrate our Amara shortlist (for Best Creative Skill Blog). He’s so thoughtful :)!

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