As the holidays approach you might be reminiscing about the summer months, or simply looking for a cozy craft to do indoors. Or you might be really jealous of all the fun crafts your kids did at camp last summer. No judgment. Either way, you have come to the right place. I’ll take you step-by-step through the process to make a Dry-Erase Calendar using paint swatches. This calendar can be bright and fun, or calm and cool. You get to choose! And you get to recycle some old frames and paint swatches while you are at it. Or you can just stop by your local hardware store to snag a few supplies…people will still think you are resourceful! Let’s get started…
What Are You Going to Need?
1) 7 Paint swatches that have AT LEAST 6 sections. (You’ll need more sections if you want a space for notes or to label the month/days of the week). Most paint swatches you find will have 7 sections…but if not, you can always add extra sections from a different swatch or find some complementary craft paper. Just make sure you buy a big enough frame so everything will fit!
Again, you are going to need 7 paint swatches, so choose wisely.
Note: If you are nervous about picking colors or want to make sure that your calendar will accent a room, try Paletton to virtually put together a great color scheme.
2) Ruler and pencil
3) Glue dots or double-sided tape work best. (You want to be careful about liquid glue because the paint swatches might ripple or simply start to curl up).
4) Picture frame (at least 8.5 x 11) with glass front. You may want to purchase your frame and swatches at the same time to make sure everything will fit. And if you’re wondering what size frame to get, just remember that it is better to have too much space than not enough.
5) Background paper. Textured creams and other subtle craft paper (or even cloth) make for nice backgrounds if you want a border or some “breathing room” between calendar spaces. (Just make sure your frame is big enough!)
Note: The picture below shows a very appealing background that gives more life than a simple white tone background. Notice though, that their paint swatches are all very similar in shade. If possible, try to pick a background that works well with all of your paint swatch colors.
If you want to skip the background, you could go for this “floating frame” effect instead. It looks pretty cool if you already love the color of the wall it will hang on. Crafty Teacher Mom on Pinterest totally agrees.
6) Wet-Erase/Dry-Erase Markers. These will be for making notes on the actual calendar once you’re done with the project. Here are some fun ones that I found online that would work really well on top of colors.
7) This is optional: something to write days/dates on. You can cut several squares out of white construction paper. Or you can punch holes in your paint swatches (like the picture below). Or you can skip this step altogether…it’s up to you!
Decide whether you are going to use the paint swatches as one complete piece or if you are going to cut them up to give your calendar spaces that “breathing room” we talked about earlier. Then, if you decide you want them to be cut up…cut them up. Do that now.
Step 1: Organize!
Decide how you want your swatches to be organized and then lay out all of your swatches in order. That’s it. But I promise that if you don’t, you will more than likely forget the order, glue down the wrong one on accident, or glue one upside down. I have seen it all.
Step 2: Measure!
The next steps are the trickiest. You’re going to find out exactly where all of your paint swatches need to be glued down. It involves math…and fractions. Gross. Rulers, however, greatly simplify this problem. Use one.
The most common mistake people make is measuring wrong. And we can blame the frame for that. You see, the frame will actually “hide” the teeniest part of the frame-backing from sight, and depending on the size of the frame-backing, it might not be equally hidden on all sides. Okay, this might not matter to you. But if you are a perfectionist (like me), then you want to fix this. Now.
If you’re anything like the kids I worked with last summer, then I know you’ve already opened your frame and pulled everything apart. That’s okay. Make sure you set the glass aside, then put the frame-backing back into the frame. Next, take a pencil and, from the front of the frame, make very light marks along all four corners. If you’re really ambitious and don’t mind erasing lots of lines, then you can just trace along the entirety of the frame. The point of this is to show you just how much of your frame-backing will be visible and what parts of it will be hidden by the frame. You’ll use these marks in your measurements.
Step 3: Apply the Background and Measure More!
If you are using a background, tape or glue this background where you want in on the frame-backing (it should be easy to center now that you have the viewable part of your frame-backing figured out). Next, whether or not you chose to use a background, measure to find the exact center of the viewable part of the frame-backing. After you find it, you’re going to need to mark it somehow. If you don’t want to put pencil lines on your pretty background, then make marks on the edges of the frame-backing (the part that will be hidden by the frame). These marks will help you to center the paint swatches.
Step 4: Visualize!
Before we glue anything else anywhere…visualize your finished product. Do you want to leave space at the top for a “header” to write the name of the month? Do you want extra space on either side of the calendar for a “notes” section or for extra decorations? If your answer to these questions is “yes”…then figure out exactly what you want and where you want it. I’ll wait.
Note: You may have to alter some of the following instructions to work with your unique layout.
Step 5: Glue Your “Anchor” Swatch
We are going to put your “anchor” swatch onto the calendar. It should be your “Wednesday” column (because it is the fourth day of the week…so it is in the middle). This swatch will be your guideline from now on, so double-check your measurements!
If you left the swatch as one long piece: Measure the width of the swatch to find its mid-line. Align this mid-line with the vertical center of the frame-backing. Then tape or glue your swatch down. These swatches are pretty durable, so if it is not quite straight, you should be able to wiggle it a bit or peel it up and try again.
If you cut your swatches into individual pieces: You’ll have to do a little more measuring before gluing your anchor piece down. How many rows are in your calendar? Hopefully an odd number. Because then you can just take the middle piece of your Wednesday column and glue that down in the center of your calendar area. If you have an even number of rows, then you’ll have to center and glue the two middle pieces of your Wednesday column. See the pictures below for an example of both styles.
Step 6: Add the Other Swatches
Just go ahead and keep adding swatches to the left and right. If you want to measure space between them, here are a few tips: take the total width of your swatch and add to it the width of the space you’ll want (so, if your swatch is 2″ and your space is 0.25″, add them together to get 2.25″). Then measure that new width from the center of the anchor swatch to either the left or the right and make a mark. This new mark indicates the exact center of the next swatch to glue down! That’s how they hang art in galleries, so you know it’s legit.
There. Now decorate it to your heart’s content and put it in the frame! If you used wet glue, you should probably wait for it to dry, just in case the glue decided to squeeze out under the pressure of the glass.
In the end, it might look something like this!