Sidewalk Cross

Geoff Mclarty fromĀ Evangel Assembly of God in Wichita, KS brings us these great chalk grids that subtly form a cross.

They wanted to make a stage element that would fit with their three week Easter sermon series, but could also be used throughout the spring and then repurposed. They have a large stage (52′ wide and 28′ high) which gives them plenty of space to work with. They have a stage curtain and wall with a cross behind the curtain, so using the existing wall was not do-able. They needed something that was sturdy on stage, but could be taken down if needed.

Using some inspiration from Chalk and Paper Strips by Oasis Church, they started charting out a massive chalkboard wall. Because of the previously mentioned drum cage and the angles of two side walls, they determined that making a 40′ wide wall would work, but the challenge was what to do with the 28′ high back wall. Cost prevented them from making something to cover it all, so they decided to make it 8′ tall, which worked out well.

Materials they purchased/used:

4’x8′ Sheets of plywood
Qty: 10
Cost: $170

2″x8′ Studs
Qty: 35
Cost $57

2 Gallons of flat black paint
Cost $40

10pound bag of unsanded grout
Cost $10

3 Rolls of 2″ Painters Tape
Cost: $28

Lots of Chalk

They first laid out frames of the 2×8 studs and screwed them together with deck screws. They made the frames in 8’x8′ sections and braced the center with a trimmed 2×8. So each section took 5 studs. They made sure to shorten one side of the frame so that there would a slight over hang of the plywood sheet. This helped them slide each frame together with minimal gap in between. Then they screwed 2 of the 4×8 plywood sheets to the frame. They started along the left hand side of the stage, standing them up and made an angled brace so that they could be screwed into the stage and not fall over. From there they continued framing and bracing the wall sections to the floor.

To save on cost, they made their own chalkboard paint. They mixed one gallon of flat black paint with 2 cups of unsanded grout. It took one coat to cover the entire wall, but that took about 1 1/2 gallons of paint. Next, they used painters tape and a chalk line to make a grid. The painters tape was 2″ wide, which is what they wanted the gap between the squares to be. After they made the grid, the hard part started. They wanted the tiles to look “Shabby Chic”. So they layered different colors together to get some depth to the coloring.

All together the project took about 20 hrs for two people to complete. They worked on it over a week, as time permitted. Total cost for this stage design was $355.

Stage1 Stage2 Stage3 Stage4 Stage5 Stage6 Stage7 Stage8 Stage9 Stage10

13 responses to Sidewalk Cross

  1. I love this look!! Great job.

    Couple of questions for you. The best I can tell from the pictures, the squares seem to be about 14 inches square. Would this be close?

    Also, did you use blue painters tape? The reason for the question is some painters tape works better than others, and chalkboard seems like it might be a challenging surface to tape.

    Finally, it seems that you used standard sidewalk chalk. Is this right? I am impressed with the colors that are shown here, if so.

    Again, great job on the design. Looks great!

    • Geoff McLarty May 21, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Hey Lee

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      The squares were about 14-15″ sqaure.

      We did use blue painters tape. It was a challenge to keep the painters tape stuck to the chalkboard paint, but it held up pretty well. I think I re-taped the surface a couple of times over the course of two or three days.

      We did use standard sidewalk chalk. To get some of the colors, I layered chalk. I would typically start with a dark layer, like black or grey. Then color over with the lighter colors and fade it in by hand. Sometimes I would reverse that and put the lighter color down first. It was just trial and error for the first few.

      Any other questions, please let me know!


      • We are laying out plans to try this at Landmark… a couple more questions came up.

        What grade of plywood would you suggest?

        Did you seal the chalk into place after completing the application? I would think people might touch it and perhaps brush against it over time.

        Thanks again for the idea and your response.

        • Geoff McLarty May 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

          Awesome! Send me some pics when you are completed… I’d love to see it!

          I think I was mistaken when I said plywood. We used Industrial Particleboard.

          I did not seal the chalkboard. We did run into a few instances where people touched it or brushed up against it. Definitely frustrating, but nothing a sponge and a lil water couldn’t help.

          If you have anymore questions, please feel free to ask.

  2. Geoff McLarty May 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Also, I’ve received quite a few calls about this design since it was posted. I am happy to help or give advice if anyone needs it. The biggest question has been: “what type of chalk did you use?”

    Here’s an amazon posting for the exact chalk we used:


  3. Absolutely love this design. Great job! We are using it for our student camp this summer

    • Hi life church of san antonio here. we are going to try to do this design. Is it durable for mobility? As in using at different venues?

      Thank you for your time.

      • Hey Anthony

        It can be durable for portable. My suggestion would be to put casters on it or use dolly’s to move from venue to venue.

        Also, make sure that you protect the chalk from being smeared. The best way I can think of doing that is by using hair spray. Create the entire chalk board and draw all the boxes and color with chalk. Once the entire board is done, spray it with hair spray. It might not be fool proof, but it will help with smearing!

    • Hey Kyle. Thanks for the encouragement! Would love to see some pics of it when you are done!

  4. Hello Geoff,
    I enjoy the design! I was wondering if you can guide me as to what type of lights you used and how they were set up to achieve the that look.

    • Hello Dano

      Our lighting is not as sophisticated as most lighting rigs, but it gets the job done. We have clusters (3 or 4 in a row) of Par LED lights above our stage. They are at the front of the stage pointing down and back at the back wall.

  5. Such a cool look. Trying this in Guam USA! Thanks for all your work and sharing your idea.

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