Letterlyn by Evelyn Cunningham

Letterlyn Blog

Calligraphy Questions | Why won't my chalkboard erase?

I have had many people ask about this one. And, I once had someone complain because they intended to use the chalkboard for a styled shoot and then just return it. But, my work "damaged" it so it was unreturnable. (Um, I have questions.) The fact of the matter is, chalk markers will damage your chalkboard.


The calligrapher's love-hate relationship with a chalk marker

Oh chalk markers, I have a love-hate relationship with you. Chalk markers are supposed to be temporary They create very vibrant white on chalkboards, glass, plastics and more. They work GREAT for writing. They are more durable than traditional chalk. They are wonderful.


They aren't really temporary on chalkboards. I am sure you've seen it at your local coffee shop: the underlying sheen of last weeks special scone or latte. Part of the problem is that many of these surfaces are porous, so the pigment will seep into it a little (or a lot) making it impossible to wipe away. 

It's made worse by time. I just had to remove the chalk marker from a chalkboard that was written 2 years ago. And, by remove, I mean that I cleaned it and painted over it with chalkboard paint. It is a pain, but it kind of comes with the territory. Newer stuff can be easily taken of with magic eraser, nail polish remover and many other home-remedies for the ghosts of signage past. But, there is a problem with all of those solutions:

Those solutions take off the surface too.

One time, I had particular trouble with a design and had to redo it a few times. I took the finish right off. Of course, I just re-finished it myself and it wasn't a problem. As you can tell, I often end up re-painting in frustration.

What is a less destructive option?

There aren't other great options. If you want to use regular chalk, you have to be prepared for it to smudge, smear and erase. If you seal it with a workable fixative, you have to be prepared to scrub and use the other methods that take off the surface.

There simply isn't a perfect solution.

I do know some people who use black paper, give it a chalkboard treatment by rubbing the chalk on it, and frame it. Bonus points: you can recycle it. But, it won't always pass a discerning eye.

The bottom line: if you are getting a chalkboard sign done, or are doing it yourself, prepare to resurface it eventually.


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