Make a window-frame bulletin or chalkboard

How to create a space for cottage collages with recycled materials

By Catherine DohertyCatherine Doherty


Photo by David Bagosy

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We’ve had a tiny bulletin board at the cottage above the old rotary phone for the last 10 years. Nothing ever seems to get taken off it but more and more things get pinned on. As a result, we have a messy collage of business cards, notes, and photographs one of which is easily accessible in this small area.Needless to say, necessity drove this project.Beautiful old wooden windows have been common at garage sales and flea markets for years. Instead of placing a mirror behind one such gem, we used cork and created a handsome new bulletin board. Using a metal or blackboard back will give you different options, depending on your needs.


  • 1 old, wooden window frame
  • Plywood
  • Roll of cork
  • 2 colours of paint
  • Crackle compound
  • Carpenters glue or double-sided tape
  • 6 butterfly clips
  • Picture hook

Step 1

Peruse the flea markets or be on the lookout for renovations happening in your area where old window frames may be heading to the dump.

Step 2

Scrape off any loose or flaking paint from the surface of your window frame. (Because many old windows were painted with a lead-based paint, sanding is not recommended.)

Step 3

To achieve the crackle finish shown here, you will need a crackle compound, available at paint or craft stores, and two colours of paint: The top coat will be your main colour and the undercoat will become the colour of the cracks. (We used Benjamin Moore’s Ivory White CC-130 for the main colour and Provincial Park CC-664, a dark khaki green, for the cracks. Our crackle compound was Adi-Crackle One Step by Adicolor.) The crackle compound is brushed on over the paint finish, causing the top colour to become distressed and allowing cracks of the bottom colour to show through. Application methods vary according to brand, so follow the instructions on your can of crackle compound.

Step 4

Cut a piece of plywood to fit into the window frame. There will be a lip at the back of the window where the glass used to be. Use this as your guide as you measure.

Step 5

Attach the cork to the plywood using carpenters glue or double-sided tape.

Step 6

Screw butterfly clips (the type you see on the back of large picture frames) to the back of the window frame. We used six clips, evenly spaced, to hold the corkboard in the frame.

Step 7

Mount a picture hook onto the back of the frame.


Magnet board: Cut a piece of sheet metal (check that magnets will stick to it) the same size as the plywood base and place it in front of the plywood board before turning the butterfly clips to hold the pieces in place.

Chalkboard: Paint the plywood with two coats of blackboard paint. Use “good one side” plywood and paint the good side to ensure a smooth finish.


  • If the old window frame comes with the glass intact, you may have to scrape out the old putty or use a hammer to remove the glass. Wear safety glasses, and put on gloves before handling any shards.
  • Create a double-duty memo board by using a magnetic paint as an undercoat for the blackboard paint. Look for magnetic paint at paint and hardware stores.
  • Get creative and use combinations of materials (cork, metal, chalkboard) to create a multi-functioning memo board.
Bulletin board

Photo by David Bagosy

Chalkboard option

Chalkboard variation. Photo by David Bagosy


This article was originally published on November 14, 2005

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Catherine Doherty