Make a Chalkboard Globe

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Chalkboard Ancestor Globe

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately from people who want to make paper mache planets. The more I thought about how I would make a globe or planet from paper mache, the more I wanted one for myself. When I saw a globe like this one online (for sale, no “how to” instructions, unfortunately) I knew I had to make one.

This is going to be my “ancestor globe.” I envision little colored stickers showing the original homelands of our family’s ancestors, before they emigrated to the US. In one case, the sticker will be in Georgia, but most of them will be in Europe – to make it more interesting and colorful, we might want to invite friends to add their own ancestral stickers from more diverse areas on the globe.

I wanted the chalkboard globe because they look really interesting and almost abstract, and partly because I had some chalkboard paint down in the basement. While I was building it, it was really hard to stick to the original plan – I kept thinking about how much fun it would be to add mountains with paper mache clay, and how nice it would look if I painted on some nice bright yellows for the deserts, white for mountain tops and the frozen poles, green for forests, etc.

When there’s so many different options, I have a hard time maintaining my focus, so I kept reminding myself that my little colored stickers wouldn’t show up very well on a busier surface. For my purpose, the matte black paint was perfect.

And besides, it makes a rather interesting accent now that it’s sitting downstairs on my coffee table. Both unusual and elegant, I think it’s fair to say. πŸ™‚

To keep from having to hand-draw the continents and major islands, I printed out the template on this page that was made out of a NASA photograph. Since my beach ball was 45 inches around, I had to stretch the template in my photo editing software. That made a very low-resolution image, so I ran it through a filter to make the colors flatter, and then lightened them to, hopefully, use less ink. Unfortunately, some rather important bits got lost in this process (bits like New Zealand, for instance) so I don’t recommend the filter idea. I can’t tell you how to stretch the map to fit your beach ball – I’m sure I didn’t do it right, because the map didn’t quite fit. Close enough, though…

And don’t use plastic tape like I did to hold the map together, or put the tape on the back of the map. I should have known better. Sigh…

Yes, I went to a great deal of trouble to avoid having to draw the map by hand. Maybe you’ll be more adventurous.

Home-made tool for paper mache
Home-made tool for paper mache

I forgot to mention in the video that I added several coats of clear matte gel medium over the map, to help cover the cut edges of the map. It made it much smoother, and although some wrinkles and bumps do still show up after the chalkboard paint was added, I think it’s better than it would have been without those coats of gel medium. I found a cheap brand of the stuff online, and smoothed it with the home-made yogurt-top tool I used in the elephant video.

27 thoughts on “Make a Chalkboard Globe”

  1. Hi Jonni,
    I am looking to make a giant globe to put in a wooden frame for a living room center piece. I was wonder if you think it would be possible to complete in two half circles and then pit them together or if I am better off leaving a yoga ball inside forever? Strength is very important to me but I also want to be able to put a dowel through the center of it which may be challenging if the ball is still inside. Your video has been super helpful and the only one I can find to offer advice on my project.
    Thanks Vanessa

    • Hi Vanessa. If your ball, either plaster cloth or paper mache, is really dry and stiff before you cut it open, it should work. Or maybe you could just cut a hole around the air inlet, and let the air out of the ball and remove it that way. The problem that you sometimes run into is that the two sides change shape slightly when they’re apart, and it can be difficult to get them back together. That won’t happen, though, if you make the wall of the globe thick enough to be nice and stiff, and make sure it’s totally dry before you try to take the two pieces apart.

    • Hi, I loved Jonni’s globe post. Interested in whether you ever made your giant globe Vanessa? I tried a few years ago with a giant beach ball. My problem at that time was that I couldn’t cover it fast enough with newspaper strips and have them dry before the huge ball lost air and deflated slightly… then the papier mache covering kept wrinkling. With a small ball it was much easier. But like you, I wanted big! Jonni’s bandage-like strips look great solution. Could then cover with papier mache clay and sand smooth?
      I’m going to try again, Jo

  2. What perfect timing Jonni! My kids are studying planets right now – this would be the perfect project to do with them. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  3. Ooooo, How exciting and fun! I’ve always wanted to make my own Earth planet. Thanks for the tutorial jonni.

  4. Hey jonni mam,
    its gerat to see your stuff and im really inspired to do something like this in the near future.but for now i was searching for a substitute for a really good recycled product and this was the best found one now. see i want to use this paper mache clay to make a flute of not so thick and of considerable flute length. i think this will be hard enough but not sure how light this would be and durable too. so can i use this to make a flute out of it? pls do reply… if i am successful i will let you knw as soon as i can..so pls help me out on this.

    • Hello. I’m not sure that the paper mache clay would be a good recipe for a flute. The recipe calls for several products used in the construction industry, and they certainly weren’t intended to be in close association with one’s mouth. I would vote against it.

      The other reason I hesitate is that the inside of a wind instruments gets really wet, and there’s no way to completely waterproof any form of paper mache. I’ve tried, and everything I’ve tried has failed. Most waterproofing products are also not “food safe,” which is what you’d need for this type of project.

      I’m glad you asked, though, because I’ve been wanting a Native American flute for a long time, and when I went out to YouTube to find you a video on how other people were making flutes, I ran across this one showing how to make the exact flute I’ve been wanting. Although it’s probably not the same style as the one you’re going to make, his techniques might work for you, anyway. Good luck with it!

      • dear jonni madam,
        glad you replied to the idea with an perfect answer. thank you. maybe if you do find some other material that i can make use of for making some flutes pls let me know. and yes the video does give soem good insights into the making but i am looking towards something much more like an indian bamboo flute which is more accurate and what i wanted to make . and after i get free from the current situations,im definitely trying out everything you have here.hope tp see more videos and tutorials and even a new recipe for projects. one again thank you so much.!!!

  5. I used your Air-Dry Paper Mache Clay to make the substrate for my mosaic sculpture named “Oscar”. I thought you might like to see it. The clay worked beautifully. Thank you so much!

  6. Sadly we didn’t see the Northern Lights even though we live in the North East of England. It has been really overcast and cloudy the past few evenings.

  7. Awesome. And timely. I’m making a space themed room for my son and having planets this way would be much more interesting than just painted ones. Even if I would stick half spheres to a wall it would look pretty nice.

    Oh you gave me another idea. A star map on a Globe. I’m pretty sure it needs to be way more accurate than I can make with my skill level but it may just be fun to try.

  8. That looked like it was fun. Now I will be ready for when my grand daughter has to do a science or geography project. You have been getting some requests for planet instructions, this video should help them out.
    I do have a suggestion for you. Instead of doing the 2 black lines around all the continents, you could use masking fluid that is used by watercolor artists in order to keep the paper white, then it could just be rubbed off after you paint the black and you have the underneath color intact. I’ve also seen contact cement used for the same purpose. It will ruin your brush but who among us doesn’t have one we could ruin?
    I would like to see it after you put on all the ancestors birthplaces. If you remember, post a picture.

    • The masking fluid would have been much easier! Next time…

      I will post a photo when the globe has it’s stickers, but I’m starting to get second thoughts. All the stickers are going to be practically right on top of each other. Not a very diverse family, I’m afraid. Maybe it would be put to better use by my home-schooled grandson when he learns world capitals or something. Or maybe I’ll get out my colored chalk and play around. Or maybe I’ll just let it sit on my coffee table for a while, so I can decide later. I’m trying to get my house ready to sell right now, so any project is going to have to wait a bit, I’m afraid.

      • Just when you get your house the way you like it, you plan to move! Where will you be moving to if you don’t mind sharing?

        • I’m hoping to move to a little town called Hendricks, MN – it’s just 30 minutes away from my daughter’s house, so visiting will be easy. And the little town is really cute, on a little lake, with all the services – and I’ll be able to bike to the store again. When I have to rely on a car to get me places, I tend to get fat. πŸ™

          Odd thing, though. The agent showed me a house on Monday, I told him by email that I wanted to make an offer on Tuesday – didn’t hear back so I called on Thursday and he said he’d have someone in the office write up the paperwork for the offer on Friday. Now it’s Saturday and still nothing to sign. So maybe I’m not really moving…

          I don’t want to put my own house on the market until I know for sure I have a new house to move to. I have a new website put together and everything, but I can’t put an ad on Craigslist until I know. Is it normal for a real estate agent to be this casual about things? If I don’t hear from him today, would it be ethical for me to just call the listing agent and have him write up the offer, even though the other agent showed me the house? I’m not worried about the other house selling out from under me (houses in the smaller towns sit on the market for a long time) but I do want to have a garden this year…

          • Oh gosh Jonni, you are asking the wrong person as I know nothing of real estate. But it does sound lax on the realtor’s part. I think you may have to get a bit more aggressive with this one…..threaten to take your business elsewhere. Then do it if they don’t step up immediately. I perused your house website and it is great. That seems like a lot of house for the price. Here in PA, that house would go for at least double, if not more in some areas. I am always amazed how housing differs in different areas of the US.
            The new house sounds ideal for your needs. Closer to family(especially the grandson) and closer to a town so you can get more exercise. Thank God I have a dog or I would not get any myself! Good luck with this whole venture. Weren’t you considering going to Washington at one point? Maybe with your brother? Did I read that or was it a dream? Hope all goes well. Get that realtor moving. We could all gang up and call to harass if you would like…they don’t know who they are dealing with!

            • Yes, I was thinking about moving to Whidby Island, in Washington, to be closer to my dad and brother. But my house would cost half a million dollars there. My brother paid $250,000 for a house with a beautiful view. But it was a real fixer (totally new roof, etc.) and I couldn’t afford either the cost of the house, or the cost of the fixing. That’s what I get for practicing voluntary poverty for so many years. (But I got to “retire” at 55, and my brother stayed on a job he hated until he was 67, so I think I still got the better deal).

              As for the agent, I’m finding that things just move slower in the rural areas than I’m used to. Time for me to slow down, too, I guess, and go with the flow. He did finally send the purchase agreement. Now I have to do it over on a new form, because the form he used must be at least 30 years old and leaves out some rather important stuff. Ah well – I’ll have to do the same when I sell my house, so it’s not that big a deal, if he doesn’t get irritated by me taking over part of his job.

      • Are you downsizing? One day when we come to do that i wil buy a small house with a huge workshop. I don’t need a big house but I desperately need a big workshop. I will install a little logburner and spend my retirement years making stuff which my poor son will have to get rid of one day πŸ™‚

        • Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing! Right now I’m puttering around in a house that’s too big for me to live in, but I keep moving my studio from one room to another and I still haven’t found the right spot for it. The “new” house is smaller, but it has a perfect studio space and a bigger garden spot for my veggies. And costs half as much as the house I’m in. I still haven’t made an offer on the house, though – my agent doesn’t seem to have time to fill out the forms (it’s been 4 days) which seems kind of weird. Is that normal?

  9. That looks like a fun project.. My friend challenged me to make an Inro???????? I had to google it but it was a fun project. I made my paper pulp from red envelopes and used a plastic bottle as the base. The little faces and flowers are paper pulp that i pressed into a mould and let dry before I glued them on.


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