February 13, 2011

Vintage Inspired Blackboard DIY -- Great Friends Think Alike & Other Lessons for Splendid Children

Did I make you giggle?  I can hardly say the name without a smile and a giggle.  Dolly Dingle is the chubby-cheeked creation of illustrator Grace Drayton, who also gave us the famous Campbell’s Soup Kids.  She created Dolly Dingle as a series of paper dolls that were published in the Pictorial Review from 1913 and through the Great Depression.  I came across my first set of Dolly Dingle paper dolls in an antique store in Santa Rosa, California,  around ten years ago and have been smitten with Dolly, her dog Fido, Cat Kitty-Cutie, and their cast of friends dressed in various period and international costumes ever since. 

I count my friend Holly among my life's many blessings, and it was further proof of our status as “kindred spirits” when I visited her home and found that she had made an adorable set of magnetic paper dolls made from the 1923 “Dolly Dingle and Sammy Smart Help Teacher” set.  Dolly Dingle Paper Doll collections always include little props and accessories, and this one happens to include a blackboard with the most charming little saying about how to “be splendid children”.  As I admired her handiwork,  Holly and I spontaneously chimed, “We should make a life-size version of that blackboard!”  So our first ever tandem blog post/project was born.

To create a vintage schoolroom look, our adaptation of the Dolly Dingle blackboard features a frame fashioned out of antiqued yard sticks, and a blackboard with permanent “chalk” lettering. With this versatile project, you can make your blackboard say anything you wish. 


  • 1 piece 1/4" plywood, luan, or other thin, yet smooth (mostly) wood, cut to size. Ours is 18" x 24" 
  • 3 to 4 yardsticks (about $3.00 each at office supplies store - ouch! Hardware stores also carry them and they can be found at all sorts of other random places, like thrift shops.) 
  • Dremel Multi-Max or saw or have the store make one cut for you 
  • Gorilla Wood Glue 
  • Gorilla Tape 
  • DISChanger, 4" 
  • Chalkboard paint, such as DecoArt Chalkboard Paint 
  • Paint pen, white (We used Painters opaque paint marker, white, medium tip) 
  • Computer print out of message in font and desired size 
  • Pencils 
  • Ruler 
  • Miter saw or miter box (you could do straight cuts too) 
  • Stain such as DecoArt Americana staining and antiquing medium mixed with Asphaltum (we used some random stains that we already have...when we checked all have been discontinued, but we feel you can achieve similar result) 
  • Paint 
  • Compass, awl, etc. - for beating up the frame! 
Step 1: Lightly sand your ¼” plywood rectangle to create a smooth surface for the chalkboard paint.

Step 2: Apply 1 coat chalkboard paint. Dry. Apply a second coat.

Step 3: Print your choice of wording on regular printer paper. We used the wording from the Dolly Dingle blackboard, and used the font AbcDNManuscriptLined. You can download it free HERE.

Step 4: Cut wording into strips and tape to your board to test desired layout.

Step 5: To transfer the wording on to the blackboard, we used the pencil transfer method. Start with one strip of wording. Completely shade the reverse side with a pencil.

Put the wording strip (right side up) back where you want it on the blackboard. Tape in place. Using a pencil, trace over each letter.

When you remove the paper strip, a pencil transfer of the lettering will be present on the blackboard. Repeat with entire set of wording.

Step 6: Using a white, medium tip opaque paint pen, go over the penciled letters, being sure that your pen is fully loaded with paint every time you start a new word.

Step 7: When paint has dried, you are ready to attach the blackboard to the frame. To do this, we ran a thin line of Gorilla Wood Glue around the inner border of the back of the frame, then set the blackboard in place.

Step 8: Once glue has dried, apply hanging hardware. We chose a 4” DISChanger.

Hang & Enjoy

This post has been linked-up with

LINKPARTYBUTTONToday's Creative Blog
Anything RelatedMy Craftie Life


  1. Love it! What a great little project!

    Happy Valentine's Day a little early!

  2. Well, isn't that the cutest thing! I love the vintage yardstick frame! Tweeting about this!

  3. Crafting with a friend...so much more fun!

  4. how smart and talented Holly and you are! I love it! sure wish I lived close to you gals. Lezlee

  5. Oh, this is so very cool. And they do look just like the Campbells Soup Kids!

  6. Your signs are so cute Jenn! I think you and Holly did a great job!! :)

  7. Love this Jenn! And you picked a wonderful friend to share it with. You both did a wonderful job!

  8. Ohh dear ... little flashback! My Nana had these paper dolls and if we were very, very, very careful we could play with them. Very. Careful.

    She would have loved your craft, too.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  9. You did an awesome job transferring the lettering! I'm so envious of your patience! :)
    I LOVE paint pens! :)

    super job,

  10. I wish i had such a beautiful neat handwriting!!

  11. I adore this chalkboard, Jenn! Amazing job! I love paint pens, too :) I'm so glad you stopped by and joined me for Anything Related! I'll be sharing on my Facebook page!

  12. I love your rustic looking chalkboard! I need one of those for my craft room!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Wow,I love this! Thanks for the great tutorial! I'll be sure to try this!! :) I'm your newest follower. I found you on this weeks party for "Naturally Me Creations". Glad I did!

  14. I featured you today over here: http://adiamondinthestuff.blogspot.com/2011/02/time-to-shine-features-6.html

    Please don't forget to add my button!

  15. Love it! Great tutorial & I wish my children would live by those rules! Thanks for linking up!

  16. new follower and i think this tutor is great...thx

  17. Love it! New follower and would love it if you could visit me sometime too!


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