After receiving many requests, Candy and her friends created a Before I Die Toolkit to help you make a wall with your community! Each kit includes a large 39″ x 50″ stencil with a full, seven-line column of the fill-in-the-blank sentence, “Before I die I want to _______.” The stencil is manufactured from thick .10 mm mylar to make it easy to hang rigid and spray-paint with minimal tape and time. The kit also includes a 10′ long paper headline stencil, two boxes of multicolored chalk, vinyl gloves, a couple of chalk holders, and an illustrated step-by-step guide (also shown below). We’re selling these materials as close to the production cost as possible.
If you’d like to create a wall without buying the toolkit, we’ve created a free folder of resources and template files for you. Download it here. This folder includes files of the large “Before I die…” headline, as well as the column of fill-in-the-blank sentences. It also includes the step-by-step guide. If you’d like to make stencils in another language or edit them to make a remix, these files should help. The headline can be print and cut from regular paper for one-time use. The column stencil should be created on something stronger so the small lettering remains rigid and the stencil can be used multiple times.
Learn more about how to create a wall below. Once you’ve created a wall, you can share your wall here by creating a mini-site! A mini-site is a page where you can post photos and responses and document the story of your wall. It’s free, super easy to use, and no technical skills are required. Visit the Budapest mini-site to see an example. You can include links to any other sites where you’re featuring your wall, as well as people and organizations involved. To get started, please be ready with photos of your completed wall and remember a few of your favorite responses, then email Liz and let her know the city that you’d like to create a mini-site for. Click here for more information on setting up your mini-site page.
The following information is also available as a pdf in the resources folder. Download it here.
A good location has regular foot traffic. Once you find an ideal location, find out who owns the property and see what they think of the idea. People have painted on construction barriers, sides of buildings, and interior walls. They’ve also built plywood walls and attached them to fences or placed them in plazas, campuses, and parks. A wall can be created by one person, but it’s easier if you have help! People have created walls with friends, family, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and organizations who can help provide a space or other resources.
Public spaces are for everyone, and it’s important to respect the community where you plan to install your wall. A good way to obtain permission is by speaking with people who live and work near the site you’ve chosen, such as the owner of the property, local community groups, and business owners and residents in the area. Every city has different rules concerning public art, so consider partnering with a local organization who can help you with this process.
Select a date for your “ribbon-cutting” and spread the word. Most importantly, inform the people who live and work around the wall so they know what’s happening. People have used social media, print and online publications, local organizations, mailing lists, and flyers to organize and promote their wall.
We’ve included a checklist of materials and general costs, which will depend on your wall size and structure. A typical wall can take a day or two to paint and stencil. Depending on the weather, the chalkboard paint can take several hours to thoroughly dry. Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide to help you on installation day.
Check on your wall frequently to take photos and document responses. A few thoughtful responses will set the tone for your wall. If there is anything inappropriate, just erase it. Once the wall is full, wash it with water to start fresh again. Take lots of photos and share your wall on the Before I Die website! We’ve provided a WordPress template and step-by-step guide to help you share your wall online. You can download these resources here. If you have any questions throughout the process, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a handy checklist of materials to make your Before I Die wall. The checked materials are included in the toolkit. We‘ve included approximate costs, which will vary depending on the size of your wall and the cost of local materials. A 24’ x 8’ wall requires 6-8 cans of chalkboard paint and 4 cans of spray paint. The amount of chalk you‘ll need will depend on how long your wall is up. You can also create your own stencils and use any weather-proof container to hold your chalk. Something with holes to let potential rain pass through is ideal. You don’t need a big budget to make a big impact!
Below are examples of Before I Die walls in other cities to show you the variety of ways people have created their own walls. There’s no right or wrong way; just the way that works for you and your community!
Depending on the size of your wall, the number of columns and spacing will vary. Our wall in New Orleans was 41 feet (12.5 meters) long and comfortably fit 10 rows. Keep in mind space to fit your chalk holders. The diagram below is an example of how a 24 foot long wall could look like. Feel free to do what feels right for you.
Here are the dimensions of the stencils we’ve used to help you figure out how to lay out your wall. Candy created the stencil for the first Before I Die wall by printing out the text, pasting it to a piece of poster board, and cutting each letter with a blade. She printed out the large title at a copy center. This took much more time time, but it’s certainly doable. Since then, she’s had the stencil made by a stencil manufacturer. A one-column prompt stencil makes it much faster to stencil, and a thick mylar material makes it easy to hang your stencil rigid to a wall with minimal tape. The text font is Neuzeit Book Heavy with -25 kerning. You can find the font online.
Here’s a six-step guide to help you make your wall. A typical wall can take one or two days to create depending on the size of your
wall, how quickly the chalkboard paint dries in your climate, and how many people are helping you. Have fun!