Sunday, February 3, 2013

Won't You Be My Valentine?

The other day I was browsing through Pinterest when this image from the incredibly talented Rhonna Farrer caught my eye:
I knew immediately what I wanted to do with this. I purchased the bundle and set to work. I selected the image I wanted to use and opened it in Photoshop. I converted the image from white text on a black background to black text on a white background. If you zoom in close on this image, you can see the edges are not smooth at all:
Photoshop sample
Since the original image is not pure black and white, and the chalkboard writing has indistinct edges, the process of selecting the white text was a bit tricky. To remedy this, after converting the image I then opened it in Illustrator and traced the image. Next, I expanded the trace to produce a vector image with paths, which I could manipulate to produce smoother text. I'll admit it was tedious, but definitely necessary:
Illustrator sample
Much better, don't you think? I exported my results as a jpeg image which I then opened in the Silhouette Studio program. Again, I traced the image and had to manipulate the settings a bit before obtaining the results I needed. 
Silhouette screenshot
Finally, I was ready to cut. My plan was to make a stencil, which I could then use to create actual chalkboard art to be framed. Since the stencil would eventually be discarded, I used some orange vinyl that I currently have no use for. Of course, this orange color does not make for pretty consider yourself warned. :)

Earlier, I had cut an 8x10 sheet of chalkboard vinyl and adhered it to the cardboard backing in my picture frame so it would be ready for the stencil. After cutting the pattern using my Silhouette, I trimmed the stencil and removed the bits that I wanted to color in:
I then used transfer paper to place the stencil over the chalkboard vinyl. Note that the transfer paper helps place the little bits that go inside the cutouts (such as the circle inside an O) in the exact right location. If you try making a stencil with regular paper instead of vinyl, you'll find these bits do not stay in place and you end up cursing yourself repeatedly. Don't ask me how I know this, lol.
And voila! my stencil was ready:
In keeping with the Valentine theme, I used a pink chalk marker to fill in the stencil:
Doesn't the pink chalk look lovely with the orange vinyl, haha. I proceeded to fill in the stencil and allowed it to dry for several hours. I then removed the vinyl, which was yet another painstaking process considering all of the teeny tiny bits involved. And finally, the project was complete. You may notice the image is not completely centered, and I am sure there are probably many other imperfections. Nonetheless, I was thrilled with the result:
I wasn't completely sure about using pink chalk with the blue frame, but I really like the way it turned out. The best part is that the vinyl chalkboard is erasable, so I can update this frame with new chalk art whenever I choose. Of course, considering the amount of time spent on this one, I have a feeling it might be hanging around for a while. :)