before & after: chalkboard market sign

If I ever owned a business, I’d like to think that I would do everything myself. But I know better, and I can pretty much guarantee that my desire to handle plumbing or paperwork would die quickly. The kind of shop-related projects I can really get excited about, though, are the little handmade details like this adorable hand-painted sandwich board made by Lily and Rachel of Birch and Bird. It’s crafted from old crib parts, of all things, and for a mere $20 including supplies, it makes a great first impression for passersby. Great idea and great execution, Lily and Rachel! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

See the other side of Rachel and Lily’s sandwich board and learn how they made it after the jump!

Time: 6 hours (including all the hand-painted lettering)

Cost: $20

Basic Steps: To create an easel, first we cleaned the wood with TSP and gave it a light sanding. We applied two coats of primer to the entire boards and painted the frames and backs of the boards with two coats of semi-gloss paint (we used latex). We taped off the frames and painted the center squares with two coats of chalkboard paint. Once everything was dry, we attached the hinges to the tops of the boards (my handy husband added two half-inch spacers where the hinges were to be so that the tops of the crib boards wouldn’t bind together). Finally, we attached chain between the board backs to prevent them from sliding apart.

To transfer the image on the board, we enlarged and printed the image on separate sheets, then taped the sheets together to form the full image. We rubbed the entire backside of the paper with chalk and shook off the excess. Then, we taped the paper to the board and traced the image using a wooden skewer or pencil (it sounds terrible). Try not to press on the image with your hands while tracing! Check to see that you’ve traced over your entire image, and gently lift the paper. Your image should be lightly transferred in chalk to your board. Finally, we painted over the chalk tracing with two coats of paint, using a fine-tip camel-hair brush. It was painstaking and took a steady hand, but using the chalk-transfer method, you don’t need to be overly artistic. — Lily + Rachel


Very nice re-do! I love how creative people can be even though it makes me feel highly inadequate. ;-)


I love the vintage baby gnaw-marks on the top of the crib in the before picture.


I am always amazed how people come up with such awesome ideas – ways to transform old into new. Gorgeous!


this is such a great idea!! would have never thought of it, very inspiring!

Rachel from Birch + Bird

Thank you so much everyone! We are quite pleased with how they turned out and we got the look we wanted without spending a lot of money. We’ll be using them at the next market in the fall.

Mary St. John

Love whenever people can take used items and transform them to something useful and great looking-thanks for sharing

Lisa's Creative Home

Just found your wonderful blog. Great feature post. I love this idea. I’ve created my own sandwich boards in the past and made them out of plywood and painted them. I LOVE this idea. Its so clever and came out beautiful. I’ve seen vintage cribs at thrift stores before. This will make me look at them differently now!


Who would ever think to use an old crib for something so fresh and fun, those two girls must be very clever indeed.