Chalkboard Globe Tutorial

I was daydreaming through the Pottery Barn catalog a few weeks ago and I noticed a solid black globe with chalk writing on it (of course, now that I want to show you I can’t find it online). What is it with PB and their obsession with chalkboard paint? Don’t they realize any idiot can just buy a can of that stuff and paint things with it instead of spending hundreds of dollars on the ones from the catalog? Although I guess the kinds of people who order entire rooms straight from Pottery Barn are too busy playing tennis and vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard and rolling in hundred dollar bills to bother buying paint. So it’s left to people like me to write chalkboard tray and chalkboard globe tutorials. I even fancied the globe up a bit to make it more fun.

I am the wordiest, most rambling blogger ever, so to make this easier on people just looking for a tutorial all the REALLY important parts are in bold.

Chalkboard paint
Contact paper
Printer and paper (optional)

I actually own 6 (SIX!) old, inaccurate globes in various stages of deterioration. I used the worst of them for this project, since the other ones are kind of cool. But as my mother pointed out, globes are some of the most useless dust catchers ever so don’t feel too bad about painting over one. Especially one that still says “U.S.S.R.”

Also on this globe: East/West Germany and Burma

Although you can tell it’s not THAT old because Burkina Faso is called Burkina Faso and not Upper Volta (it was changed in 1984).

She's in the Peace Corps

Instead of covering the whole globe with black paint and then drawing my own world on it (which would also be super cute) I decided to try leaving some of the map showing through. For my first globe I used my son’s name:

I tried printing it directly onto make-your-own sticker paper (also known as 8 1/2 x 11 shipping label paper from Staples). This didn’t work out so well, as you’ll see that in a minute. Then I cut out the letters and stuck them on the globe.

Unfortunately, when I painted over the letters, the sticker paper absorbed the paint…

It looks so promising! But the fail is coming…

…So when I tried to peel the stickers off the top layer came up but the adhesive stuck to the globe.


Using several different kinds of knives (a regular old table knife ended up working best) I managed to scrape MOST of it off and only damaged the map underneath in a couple of places. I figured this was my trial run – and the globe I’m going to let my toddler play with – so it’s not the end of the world. Ahahaha! Globe joke!!

You can’t see it in the pictures, but there’s also a star shape, right over New England so you can still see Connecticut

Luckily I was able to try again.

This one was in even worse shape - the equator is held together with scotch tape

Globe #2 is missing it’s little time zone circle disk, which meant I didn’t have to take it off the stand to paint all the way to the top. (Globe #1 popped right off the stand but I discovered it’s way easier to paint most of it while it’s still on it. Less rolling!)

Here’s the way this project actually works best: I used contact paper I found at Target to make stickers. It was with the shelf paper that comes in cute patterns (on the aisle with the mops) but I picked the most basic clear kind to ensure it was just one layer and wouldn’t come apart like the label paper. I printed out the word “LOVE” with a heart for the “O” on regular paper, then traced it backwards onto the paper side of the contact paper. That way when you peel the paper off and stick it on the globe the letters face the right way.

You can kind of see the clear letters stuck to the globe where it’s extra shiny

Then I painted it with two coats of the chalkboard paint…

If I had enough patience I might have done three coats just to make sure it was really covered

…and peeled off the contact paper to see the map underneath!

Is that cute or what?

Now my useless dust collectors are cuter, chalkboard dust collectors.

Here are the tips I have to make this as easy as possible:
1. Choose a font or shape that doesn’t require a ton of detailed cutting. I couldn’t even get the center part of the “A” in Evan to come out right, which is why it’s not there. Besides, you want big sections of the map to show through.
2. Don’t make your shapes/letters too large or the contact paper won’t lie flat when you stick it to the globe. It’s important to get the edges stuck down really well to prevent the paint from seeping underneath.
3. When the paint DOES get under the contact paper, you can veeeeery gently scrape it off with a blade or craft knife. It’s easiest if you do it as soon as possible, so peel the stickers off as soon as the paint is dry(ish).
4. Be sure to follow the instructions for dry-time on the chalkboard paint before you try using chalk on it, or you’ll end up with permanent marks. They’re not joking about that.
5. I bought all my globes for mere dollars at our local flea market, which is kind of a lousy flea market but apparently a gold mine for old globes. I’ve also seen them at antique stores but those tend to be a little pricier because they’re in better condition or actual antiques instead of junk. Shipping a globe is cost prohibitive, so your best bet is garage or yard sales or a trashy flea market in your area. Just keep your eyes open!

Other cool ideas – just paint the ocean or the continents with chalkboard paint so you can color in the rest however you want. Get really ambitious and outline the continents in another color. Use painter’s tape to make stripes and then write cute, clever things all around the world. Your creativity is only limited by your access to cheap globes!

But hey, even if you end up paying $30 for one at an antique store that’s still a LOT cheaper than $297.50. Yikes.

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17 Responses to “Chalkboard Globe Tutorial”

  1. Nicole says:

    And it’s SOLD OUT. Enough people wanted and could afford these that they actually ran out. I have been going about this money-earning thing all wrong.

  2. So cute. I would love to do stripes, but I don’t think I am precise enough to do stripes on a sphere. Maybe polka dots… Now to find a globe.

  3. Brigid Keely says:

    What kind of brush did you use?

    I’ve heard that vinyl stickers work really well. The contac paper is a BRILLIANT idea.

    • bebehblog says:

      Just a regular paint brush – the kind for walls and trim, since a little craft sized one would have taken forever.

  4. TMae says:

    The nerd in me is dying a little bit that old globes are useless. I LOVE looking at old maps to see how borders change, and names change and whatnot. BUT I AM A BIG MAP DORK.

    Who might need to make one of these, because it’s pretty damn clever.

    • bebehblog says:

      One or two old globes are cool. Six are a waste of space. Especially ones that are only from the 80’s.

      • FourInchHeels says:

        I’m trying to figure out why some of the countries were the same color as the ocean. Did it just look that way in the pictures? For a minute, I thought Mongolia was a sea.

        • bebehblog says:

          Mongolia being blue has ALWAYS bothered me. I think they just had a limited number of colors. Almost all my old globes are in shades of blue and yellow and green.

    • merin says:

      I agree TMae-I have an old one at my parents house and totally wanted to have it here because I thought it was cool…oh well :(

      Great idea Suzanne! I cannot believe these cost that much at PBK-incredible!

  5. Seriously, I am SO NOT CRAFTY. These are damn cute. I may have to find an old globe and ship one to you…you know, so YOU can make one for ME. (wink, wink.)

    I’m dying to paint a wall with chalkboard paint – just SO afraid of messing something up. SO SO SO afraid.

    • bebehblog says:

      You cannot mess it up. I’m the world’s laziest painter and I’ve painted a million things, including a wall, with chalkboard paint. It just takes a couple coats and a lot of drying time.

      • FourInchHeels says:

        They make it in spray paint form! I have that for the world’s geekiest clock (covered it in chalkboard paint so my friend can have write/change the equations which are in place of numbers) (second nerdiest … first being binary clocks ::swoon::)

  6. Amanda says:

    Love it! I saw the globes in the PB catalog too and thought “hey I can do that but I don’t have a globe so anyways…”

    Now use your spare contact paper and give a piece to Evan to stick random pieces of paper to and then cover it with another piece of contact paper to keep it stuck on. Voila beautiful artwork by your little baby boy! Or you can cut out a big E stick it to a pieces of paper and let him color with his crayons all over the paper, then peel of the contact paper. Or I have a million other uses for contact paper, Maddie and I use a LOT of it.

  7. Natalie says:

    You’re so crafty. I love this idea. Is the surface really easy to write on w/ the chalk? Or is it as pain in the assy as it seems? Even still, sometimes we sacrifice for the cuteness, and it is worth it–as this project seems to be.

  8. Sarah-Anne says:

    wow, that is such an awesome idea!! love it!

  9. Katrine says:

    This is so awesome!
    Thanks for sharing! :)
    Have a great day!
    Katrine :)

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