TO DO: make dry erase board

Guest post by Alison Headley

This post originally appeared at

Did you know dry-erase markers work just beautifully on glass? Yeah! Last week I made a dry-erase board from this tutorial at Make and Takes. I had old glass-fronted frames that used to hold two watercolor paintings an ex-boyfriend made me. The paintings are nice (you can see them in the top right-hand corner of this photo), and I’m going to keep them as they have a bit of sentimental value, but I felt weird hanging them up in the apartment I share with Brendan. So: paintings in a box, frames repurposed, problem solved.

Here are the two frames ready to be painted. That well-used drop cloth is a shower curtain that the previous tenants left up in our bathroom. Someone else’s shower curtain in the shower: ewwwwww. Someone else’s shower curtain for spray-painting: just fine.

And here they are after a coat of primer and one coat of Krylon Avocado.

And then of course I ran out of paint. Boo! At my local hardware store they didn’t have Krylon Avocado, only Celery, so I bought that and painted the two frames (and the box at the bottom left, more on that next week) without running out of paint. Yay!

It should be noted that while I painted two frames the same color, I only made a dry-erase board out of one of them. The other one I’ll use for something else down the line.

Now, I’ll be honest: I didn’t read the tutorial I linked above. I just saw the photo and figured I’d try it my own way. It was just as well, because the tutorial was for paper, and I used fabric, so it wouldn’t have worked. Here’s how I made my version.

First, I took the glass from the frame and put it on top of a piece of cardboard (I used my cardboard loom from the ill-fated rug project). Here you can see the cardboard and glass, with a bonus reflection of me and my ceiling fan:

Then I used a pencil to trace around the glass, and then cut along the line I traced. Voila! A perfectly-sized piece of cardboard to go in my frame. Here’s the cardboard with my chosen fabric (some Echino I bought from SuperBuzzy several years ago) and my, uh, chosen glue.

For sticking fabric onto cardboard or paper, there’s nothing like Elmer’s Washable School Glue Stick. No, they didn’t pay me to say that; I just really love it. It sticks as well as spray adhesive without all that extra sticky overspray. I buy a bunch of sticks of it every time I find them on sale.

Maude likes glue, too.

After I picked the portion of the fabric that would look best in the frame, I laid the cardboard on top of it and used my rotary cutter to trim the fabric to approximately the size of the cardboard, leaving a little bit of fabric around the edges, like so:

It’s kind of hard to glue a piece of fabric to a piece of cardboard when the two are the exact same size—you have to worry about keeping all the edges even while you glue, which sucks. It’s much easier to leave that little bit of excess and just trim it off after you glue. Here it is all glued and trimmed:

And here it is in the frame. Nice, right? I was worried about how the green paint would look with the green fabric, but I sort of like it.

The photo above is of the finished product hanging in the living room, but that’s not where I’m going to keep it. When I was ready to take the photo of it, Brendan was still asleep. So that I wouldn’t wake him up by hammering a nail into the wall, I took another frame down and put this one in its place for the photo. Later I’ll put it in my craft area.

And here’s a bonus shot of me and my headphones and the living-room window. I use wireless headphones in the mornings when Brendan’s still asleep.

So it looks great, and I love it, but something’s missing. Can you figure out what? Here, maybe this Photoshopped image will help:

Comments on TO DO: make dry erase board

  1. i did this recently, too! i wanted a dry erase board with a super-pretentious, ornate frame. finally landed a picture frame that was scrolly-gold-leaf-tastic, and just put white paper behind the glass (didn’t want anything too interesting competing with that fabulous frame). it’s in the hallway right at the entrance to our kitchen, and this weekend i’ll finish the basket i’m hanging below it, with all our takeout menus/BART maps/dry-erase pens/etc. the only downside is that the glass is, obviously, not magnetic, but it’s still pretty rockin’.

  2. I love this! Not only is it handy, but when there isn’t anything written on it it’s still so cute and decorative…I have some extra frames that I’m definitely going to try this with.

  3. This also works with mirrors. My dad lived in a place for a while that had mirrored closet doors, and he would write all over them with dry erase markers.

    You can also print out a calender/chore list/whatever and put it in the frame behind the glass.

  4. Ooh, I never thought of doing that! What a great idea! I’ve got a bunch of old picture frames lying around, and this would save me from having post-it’s stuck all over the house. Sweet!

  5. Not as pretty, but if you need a huge white board (i.e. Wall sized) for a class room/office/kids room, I’d suggest getting shower panels (which can be cut to size) from a home improvement. It gives you a great size for a low cost. Just screw them into the wall, and instant dry erase board!

  6. My parents both work at 3M, but I’m their “hippie” daughter who is sick to death of Post-Its (TM) and having to recycle them and store them and deal with them and lose them. I also have MAJOR A.D.D. and am generally a hot, creative mess, so I’m now thinking about sticking these up in every room of the house instead of trying to find dry erase boards or remain dependent on the sticky squares. I also LOVE the idea that I could print/ draw/ otherwise fashion a calendar to put in there. Prime. Evil. Genius.

  7. No, but really, we’ve been using our bathroom mirror as a dry erase board for months. And we got the idea for that because we played dry-erase pictionary on a dorm dishwasher a few years back, not even thinking that it might not come off, but it totally did.

    So yeah. Awesome idea! I like this version of it, because it doesn’t involve having to see my face through drawings of the cat using one of those guns from the video game Portal to get at his food.

  8. WOW that is fantastic!

    (I almost never read instructions – I just look at a couple of the pictures and steam ahead… I have ruined many projects in this way and also made some fabulous discoveries. I can just never remember how I did them.)

  9. Looks fantastic. I’ve been wanting do this for a while but I seem to have so many other projects that are piling up. Yours looks so good though!

  10. Heads up: If your dry-wipe board gets stained,, either by leaving something on there for too long, using a non-dry-erase pen on it (oops) or just from constant use, clean it with a bit of nail varnish remover. It will look good as new.

  11. I used to carry dry erase markers with me (much to the relief of many professors) and write notes (“headed for coffee–will be there till 3, come join me!” or the like) on friends’ car windows or sometimes important reminders on the mirror at home. Used to drive my dad nuts.

  12. Yay! I spent so long looking for cheap magnetic memo boards that would look good in my kitchen .. and failed. Now I’m definitely going to invest in some magnetic paint to go on the back board and do the fabric and glass memo board thing, as Rachel Scotland said. Thanks!

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