January 06, 2012

Homemade easel for kids


This was one of the more successful Christmas presents Daniel and I made for our little friend Charlotte (3). 

We used poplar, small hinges and string.  

Image 2

The red side of the easel is a chalkboard (homemade chalkboard paint, baby), the other side is a dry-erase board cut from a cheap 4x8 sheet of white bathroom paneling.

Image 1

Charlotte's mum clamps newsprint to the whiteboard side any time Charlotte wants to paint. The easel folds flat for storage.  

P.S. I forgot to take step-by-step photos during the white-hot frenzy of creation so let me know if you want instructions and I'll build another.

December 13, 2011

DIY Chalkboard Paint

You can buy chalkboard paint in green or black, but why limit yourself to those scholastic-y colours? Maybe you want to make a chalkboard wall in the kitchen for a family communication center, or maybe you're making a kids' art table like this...


...and it would be fun to use a colour other than black or green.  

So get a quart size can of flat paint in any shade you like (I used Olympic Premium Zero VOC because it dries in an hour, has no odour and carries a lifetime warranty) and pour the amount of paint you'll need into a separate container.  Then add unsanded grout powder (available in the tile aisle) with the ratio of 1 rounded tablespoon of unsanded grout to 1 cup of flat paint.  Stir it up well and then roll out 2 or 3 coats on the surface you want to transform into a chalkboard.  You can use a hair dryer to speed up the drying time if you're rushed.  Cool eh?  

December 08, 2011

Transfer your (or your kids') art onto ceramic tiles

I've discovered a cool new technique. I've been tranferring photos onto wood for a few years now to make coasters and all kinds of fun projects.  But the other day I tried it on a glazed ceramic tile and it worked!


I had a young friend draw directly onto t-shirt transfer paper using a Pilot rolling ball pen.  Then we cut out the drawing, turned it upside down and placed it on a 4-inch ceramic tile, then applied a hot iron to the back of the transfer.  

After we peeled off the backing paper, we had a perfect image on the tile surface. We put some parchment paper (the silicon-coated paper used for cooking) over the image and reheated it for a few seconds with the hot iron just to smooth a few bumps in the plastic transfer film.  Looks pretty cool right?  Which of your relatives wouldn't love a set of coasters from a budding cartoonist?  

You can also use crayons and markers to create images but be careful not to tear the delicate surface of the transfer paper. Also, Sharpies don't work very well - they blur and run under the heat of the iron.

TIP: Apply felt dots to the back of the tile to prevent sharp corners and edges from scratching delicate surfaces. 

This technique also works reasonably well with photographic images printed on t-shirt transfer paper using an inkjet printer.  Make sure the tiles are grease-free by wiping them with a little rubbing alcohol before applying the transfer.



  • Get ToolGirl's Newsletter
  • Watch ToolGirl's videos


  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie