“What did I do wrong?!?” Mistakes are pretty much guaranteed when you’re creating and crafting, amiright? But it’s pretty deflating to spend time on a project and have it messed up. There are some application mistakes that folks make that can easily be avoided. Let’s explore the 5 most common culprits.
Thick. Gummy. Crusty. These are not words you want to describe you or your Chalk Couture Paste. Your paste should be creamy– the consistency of yogurt or sour cream. Over time, paste will dry out a bit, but you can re-wet it and bring it back to life. Dry paste will lead to a design that isn’t fully realized or has a funky texture to it. Dry or thick paste doesn’t push through the silkscreen of the transfer very well– which is exactly what we’re doing when we ‘squeegee’. If your paste is dry, you can add a few drops of distilled water to it and stir, stir, stir to revive it. Keep adding a few drops at a time until you reach that creamy consistency.
Bubbles in the Transfer
If a transfer doesn’t go down smooth and air bubbles get trapped under the silkscreen, this will lead to blowouts. The easiest way to avoid this common mistake is to line up the design and then lay your transfer down from top to bottom, almost rolling it down onto the board. Then take your hand and smooth from the middle of the board out & up and down. You will be able to feel any bubbles in the transfer. If the bubble is on the teal adhesive it’s fine, as long as it isn’t interfering with the part where it meets the silkscreen. Our 4″ handled squeegee is amazing for getting the transfers bubble free, as well. Use the squeegee instead of your hands to squeeze any bubbles out before chalking, then use it to apply the paste, too!
Surface Mistakes: Not Waxing or Waxing Too Much
I’m going to expand on the why & how of the waxing process in another post, but for now you need to know if you’re using a non-Chalk Couture surface, you’ll probably need to wax it. The wax serves as a barely there barrier to protect your surface as well as your Transfer. If you are using a non-Chalk Couture Chalkboard, wood, metal or any other solid surface (non-porous), you need to wax. And, don’t forget to buff the wax back off according to the directions on the label. Otherwise your paste may come up with your transfer no matter what you do. (Boy, that sounded all doom and gloom, right?)
Forgetting the Fuzz
Fuzzing is a process we use to protect your transfers and your projects. I talk more about that in this post, but it is especially important when you’re layering designs. If the transfer is too sticky when you put it on top of the bottom layer of paste, it will remove the bottom layer when you remove the transfer leaving you with gaps in your design.
Working Too Slowly
This is probably the number one mistake of beginning chalkers. There are a great number of Transfers that we want to get every single detail perfect. Especially the really beautiful ones with flowers and leaves and words and and and. But what ends up happening is that we get so laser focused on getting all of those colors of paste on all of those tiny details that the first areas that we pasted start to dry. Then when you pull up the Transfer, half of your paste comes up with it. All of the time you just spent on making it gorgeous was wasted.
There are a couple of solutions to this problem: the Paste & Peel method, sectioning your Transfer and keeping it wet (no fancy name for that one).
The Paste & Peel is exactly as it sounds. You work either from the top down or the bottom up, your choice, and apply paste from side to side a couple inches from the side youre working from. Then peel back the Transfer and blow dry the paste until it is dry and hardened. Then you can replace the Transfer down and continue working!
You could also cut your Transfer at strategic areas to make it smaller and easier to work with. Many of our Transfers come with “slice lines” for separating elements, but nothing says you can’t chop that bad boy up any way you please to make it work for you!
The other method is to place damp paper towels over the portions of the board you have already chalked. Make sure they’re not too wet as they’ll damage your design, but damp will help keep the paste wet so you can work at the pace you’re comfortable with.
Also important to note: Transfers with thin lines, fine letters or small details (like tiny dots or stars) will dry faster. If you can, I’d suggest doing all the fine details last to avoid them drying on you.
Mistakes with Water
Water can be our friend when we make mistakes, or it can even be the cause of them. We use water to wash our Transfers, so if we wash and reuse it before it’s completely dry we’ll end up with some diluted areas. One of the techniques I teach, ombre, has you dipping a finger lightly into water to swirl the pastes together. Sometimes we have too much water on our fingers when we try this technique- ending with the same result. Just a dab will do ya when it comes to water around your designs.
One Fix to Rule Them All
Yep. If you really hate what happened and can’t live with the mistakes, you can wash them away. On chalkboard surfaces this is as easy as washing the dishes (sans soap). With wooden surfaces, you may be able to remove any stain from the colored pastes with a Magic Eraser. But if not, just paint over it and start again!
You can also touch up mistakes with a paintbrush dipped in paste. You may add a tiny bit of water to thin out the paste, if needed.
Go outside the lines? Wipe it off with water.
There’s also the option of calling your design “distressed” or “vintage” if some paste has peeled off with your Transfer. That look is totally on trend and you can tell all your friends you’re hip.
One of the most important things to remember here is not to look too closely at your creations. We are sitting 6 inches away from the board that we are working on and scrutinizing every centimeter. I’ve been at so many workshops where ladies are perfectionists (not knocking it, I am too) and are so disappointed in what they made…. until I take it away from them and walk 2 feet away. From a reasonable distance (AKA the distance that everyone else in the world will be looking at it), all projects look GREAT!! These are (wo)man made not machine made. Give yourself a break and a big pat on the back.
Now it’s time to get chalkin’! Be sure to check out my tutorial on how to create a shadow effect for a twist on the straight chalking process! Or maybe you need some new transfers to practice your new skills with. You can sign on as a Designer and get 40% off your purchases, order from the current catalog, or maybe you want an exclusive design transfer and pastes sent straight to your door each month with our craft subscription box. I hope you enjoy your Chalk Couture experience!