Whether you have a brand new baby on the way, growing children itching to unleash their imaginations, or a combination of both, Versachalk has the tools to immerse your young ones in a world of colorful dreams. A chalkboard playhouse for a toddler’s tea party? An opportunity for a creative kindergartner to bedeck a porcelain figurine in dazzling color? Together, we can do all that and more.
Here are some great project ideas we’ve found that are sure to delight the little ones in your household.
Shout it from the rooftop (or windows)!
Few events generate more excitement than a birth announcement. With liquid chalk markers, you can make a big splash by proclaiming the baby’s name and ‘stats’ in dynamic colors. Use a chalkboard for a timeless look, or get creative in choosing your canvas, because liquid chalk can be used on a wide variety of surfaces—glass, metal, porcelain, vinyl, solid plastic, slate, granite, laminated counters and glazed ceramic, to name a few.
A fun game for those showers without water
If you have chosen to let the gender of your newborn be a delivery room surprise, why not let your friends and family join in on the fun? At your baby shower, ask everyone to guess the baby’s gender and birth weight. Record each guess in a colorful display like the one shown below. With or without a prize for the best guess, the game will keep everyone buzzing with anticipation right up until the big day.
Children past the toddler stage don’t just want to see bright colors, they want to make them—everywhere! Look for projects that turn that creative drive into a lasting keepsake, such as decorating porcelain figurines. Porcelain makes a great canvas for liquid chalk—a dustless, non-messy, non-toxic way to decorate. Help your kids sketch out a design on paper to follow, or just let them wing it.
White figurines like this unicorn can be colored horn to tail if your child desires, or great works of art can be created by coloring only part of a figure, as shown here.
Room within a room, house within a house
All children love to play pretend. There is no greater thrill for them than to have a ‘secret’ space all their own, where they are free from those annoying intrusions of adults and reality. With chalkboard contact paper applied to its walls, a tree house can become anything from a pirate ship to a castle to a lunar lander.
But why not create a magical space for your children indoors, too? Kids have always loved sleeping in a tent set up on the living room floor, but these days, you can take that idea to a whole new level. Check out this geodesic dome fashioned out of cardboard.
With its fascinating geometric shape, a geodesic dome will stimulate little ones’ minds as they splash on loads of color with waterproof neon liquid chalk markers. Simply apply chalkboard contact paper to create a chalk marker-friendly surface. The vinyl paper comes in rolls or sheets that you and your children can cut to fit each panel of the dome. No need for glue or tape; just peel away the backing sheet and let the adhesive back work its magic. For downloadable plans and patterns for making your own geodesic dome, click here.
To create more of a camping feel, “pitch” a plastic tent or teepee. If you don’t want to build a tent from scratch, companies like Pacific Play Tents sell both kits and ready-made models. Kids love putting things together, so let them participate in the assembly. Easier still, arrange two or three chalkboards into a simple fort, with exterior walls perfect for writing that all-important message in blazing colors: “KIDS ONLY! GROWN-UPS KEEP OUT!”
If these walls could chalk
If your kids think big, they will love showcasing their liquid chalk masterpieces on an entire wall. Creating chalkboard walls gives them that opportunity. Whether the result is an elaborate mural, a carefully measured illustration of a house, or a delightful but slightly less architecturally sound design, children will love seeing their dreams in larger-than-life size.
These are two versions of chalkboard walls with a house theme. One is traditional and properly measured.
The other is free form and haphazard, but fun.
Banish boredom with the multi-purpose playtime board
With either a slate chalkboard (for a rustic look) or a porcelain steel chalkboard (for the additional versatility of adding magnets) as the foundation, add shelves to hold books and drawing tools, a bar with plastic hooks, and a sheet roller. The chalkboard provides a perfect surface for chalk marker art, while the sheet roller enables children to paint and draw exotic masterpieces to exhibit elsewhere.
The roller shown here holds traditional brown paper, but you can also extend your children’s chalk art world even further by replacing the paper with chalkboard vinyl sheets.
The mud-less mudroom
Whether you live in a classic house with a built-in mudroom or an apartment with a simple entry hallway, everyone needs a place to dump outdoor stuff so it won’t get the rest of the home dirty. For a contemporary take on the traditional mudroom, put up a chalkboard, or apply chalkboard contact paper to a wall to serve as a bulletin board. It’s a great place for a family message center, since everyone enters and exits there daily.
Complement the large panel with smaller slate boards—one for each kid—each with its own hook for hanging up jackets and backpacks. Children will love writing their names and adding drawings to the boards to claim a section of the room as their own.
Keeping the young ones entertained can be a full-time job. These are just some ideas to brighten up the ‘kids’ corners’ of your home. If you would like to add to these projects, or suggest a better way to execute them, do let us know. Just fill out the comment box below and click away.
NB: Many thanks to the manufacturers of children’s furniture, materials suppliers, porcelain and clay figurines, and creators of all projects mentioned here. You are all credited in the captions.
Black, green or white, the traditional scribbling board has come a long way
The vintage-look modern slate chalkboard: works with regular chalk and liquid chalk markers
Have you ever wondered what students in classrooms used before there were chalkboards and paper? Cave walls and hands. Then they wrote on small slabs of wood covered with black grit, called ‘slates’. These were cumbersome, however, because teachers had to go from student to student to check on their work and could present their lessons to only one person at a time.
This is a true story of what happened in a world without chalkboards: In 1846, teacher Olive M. Isbell was faced with the impossible task of teaching the alphabet to students who had neither slates nor paper. The woman responsible for opening the first school in California had to write on what’s readily available: the backs of her students’ hands! There had to be a better way of conveying information for the whole class to read.
Enter James Pillans, the headmaster of Old Royal High School in Edinburgh, Scotland, the recognized inventor of the chalkboard and colored chalk for chalkboards. He used both to teach geography. He thought of a writing board encompassing an entire wall. He covered it with gray or black slate stone and used chalk to write on it. His formula consisted of ground chalk, color dyes and porridge. Before Pillans thought of one huge board, he placed his students’ reading tablets on the classroom wall, much like the display of flat screens we see in Best Buy’s TV department.
Historians disagree on when the chalkboard was invented. Some say it was 1801, the earliest record it was used in the USA by George Baron, a West Point teacher. Others say it was 1823, when Samuel Read Hall—who opened the first ‘normal school’ in Concord, Vermont—patented a design for a blackboard.
What do eggs and potatoes have in common with the chalkboard?
As early as 1815, Scots referred to this writing canvas as the ‘blackboard’, because it was made of dark gray or black slate stone. Other countries adopted the name. The term ‘chalkboard’ started appearing in the USA in the mid-1930s. David A. Fryxell of Family Tree magazine claim that early ones were made from “pine covered with a mixture of egg white and carbon from charred potatoes.” Some classroom walls had “a paste of lime, plaster of Paris and lampblack” spread on them.When blackboards turned green
When is black not black? When it turns green.
According to 1898 mineral industry statistics, slate blackboard manufacturing began in the US in the 1840s. Improved railroad networks allowed its distribution throughout the country. Its porcelain composition made it lighter and easier to ship. Green-colored chalkboards were introduced in the 1960s. Many preferred them to black ones, because they didn’t show old chalk lines as much and were more durable than slate. Also, the green color causes less eye strain.
The chalkboard easel—a favorite of dining establishments
From indoors to outdoors to basically everywhere
The chalkboard has come a long away from the green and black wooden schoolroom canvas. Its development was directly linked to its purpose—the easel, for example. It’s not just for artists, but for small businesses to announce product lines on streets, menus for dining establishments, and multi-board contraptions that act as dividers and visual exhibits.
Neon liquid chalk markers—give your masterpiece a glow
Not limited to the wooden kind, steel chalkboards appeared in the 1960s. The use of chalkboard paint has endured into the 21st century and is found on many surfaces, increasing the versatility of its writing partner, chalk. With the advent of the washable liquid chalk marker, the chalkboard’s status was raised. Regular dusty chalk has paved the way for its dustless, odorless and non-toxic cousin. Despite much discussion on the superiority of liquid chalk over the powdered kind—whether used on chalkboard, whiteboard, or surfaces like glass and porcelain—it usually comes down to personal preference. An improvement on Pillan’s chalk is the new neon chalk marker, which gives an added glow to artwork.
Currently, chalkboards come in various formats:
- Frameless chalkboard
- magnetic board
- Dry-erase marker board
- Smart board
- Think board
- Chalkboard vinyl sheet
The last one—as with its transparent equivalent, the think board—is flexible, thinner and softer, so it can be cut and molded into various shapes and sizes. It comes with an adhesive backing, so it can be attached to most smooth surfaces.
Both regular chalk and liquid chalk markers work well with chalkboard vinyl sheets
Did you know that whiteboards nearly replaced chalkboards?
The school chalkboard found its way into boardrooms, laboratories, other medical facilities... anywhere ideas are presented. You would think that with the advent of the Internet, they would go the way of the T-Rex. Surprisingly, despite the invention of the whiteboard in the 1980s and its adoption by 21% of all American schools in the mid-1990s, the chalkboard lives on! Most universities in the USA still use them! Why is this so when the competitor is lighter, easier to clean, and its dry-erase constitution eliminated the need for water to erase chalk? Why do advanced learning institutions still prefer chalkboards? The answer lies in its durability. Whiteboards need to be replaced after a couple of years. Whiteboard expert Hanson Grant says it’s more about practicality: “It costs about $20,000 to replace an existing sliding system with whiteboards.”
The changing face of the chalkboard
Who says chalkboards have to be flat? Chalkboards are not confined to walls anymore. They come in various shapes and sizes. Connect several boards with hinges and produce a room divider. Restaurants can use them to make an impromptu outdoor patio. Taller versions can act as a fence. Use it as a perimeter to set off your property from the pavement, or separate your garden from the neighbor’s. A chalkboard wall decorated with neon liquid chalk markers would make your front or backyard the talk of the neighborhood... especially if you change your illustrations every week.
The chalkboard calendar: can be made of chalk board paint, or chalkboard contact paper/vinyl sheet
Paint it black!
Your entire coffee mug can be a chalkboard. How? Coat it with chalkboard paint! In fact, with this paint, you can turn almost any surface into a chalkboard. Splash a massive chalkboard calendar across your home office wall. Place a bulletin board in your condotel lobby. Have your coffee break conversations around a chalkboard message center instead of the water cooler. Turn your floor or ceiling into a canvas for family members or colleagues to showcase their art.
Plants, pots and chalk: an unlikely partnership that works
Vinyl doesn’t just mean your parents’ records
The vinyl sheet has given the chalkboard a kind of versatility it hasn’t had before. Its softness and pliability ensures it can be cut into whatever shape you want. They can be made into coasters, coffee stencils, wine glass trinkets, bottle tags, table signs, labels for plant pots, jars and other containers, entire walls of furniture and features on architectural elements (dressers, bedroom walls, window panels).
The chalkboard of the future
If you think about it, the prototype for today’s Android tablet and iPad is the 1846 slate board. In a strange case of life imitating art, science fiction writers accurately predicted technological advances, such as flat screens, electronic billboards and interactive smart boards, by regarding the lowly chalkboard as inspiration. If you’ve seen Total Recall (or similar movies), you would have noticed the animated screens adorning skyscraper walls, floating ones in train stations, electronic transparent ‘newspapers’ and Skype-like interfaces popping up when future moms want to check up on their teenagers. The chalkboard of the future may follow this path and pave the way for the aforementioned high-tech goodies to become realities.
The smart board: the high-tech cousin of the chalkboard
Even now, images projected onto present-day interactive smart boards can be manipulated with fingers. Only a few years ago, the very idea of resizing a floating image with your hands was just a pipe dream—as envisioned in the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report.
Time will tell whether the chalkboard will still exist 100 years from now. Thanks to its original purpose of conveying knowledge to the masses, however, it will always be regarded, not just as a ‘medium of instruction’, but also a vehicle of expression of creativity.
Chalkboards are the “hot new old” idea in décor for your business or home. Martha Stewart dedicated an entire article on her website to the vast creative possibilities chalkboards offer. But the best chalkboards aren’t cheap, and safely mounting a large one on a wall is no mean trick.
With Versachalk’s chalkboard contact paper, you can turn any smooth surface into a high quality chalkboard easily and affordably. Soft, thin and pliable, the paper can be cut into any shape and provides an ideal surface for both liquid chalk markers and traditional chalk, just in case you crave that rustic look. If you follow the simple guidelines provided below, both applying and removing the paper will be a snap, with no damage to walls and no cleanup. Chalkboard paint can’t compete with that!
Chalkboard contact paper makes clean, complete erasing easy, too! Simply wipe off liquid chalk marker ink with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Here is our step-by-step guide on how to use chalkboard contact paper to ensure best results.
How to Apply Chalkboard Contact Paper to a Surface
- Flatten. Cut a piece of the desired length off the roll and lay it flat. Weigh down the entire sheet with books or other heavy items, paying careful attention to corners, where curling tends to occur.
- Shape. Cut the sheet into any shape your heart desires. (And yes, that includes a heart shape!) To cut perfectly straight lines, flip the paper over and use the grid on the back as a guide.
- Choose a smooth surface. The paper won’t adhere well to walls with a lot of texture. The surface doesn’t have to be smooth as glass, but you shouldn’t feel any significant bumps or depressions as you run your hand over it.
- Clean. Give your chosen surface a quick wipe down with a clean cloth so you’re not trapping dust between the surface and the paper’s adhesive. If the surface is noticeably dusty, use a damp cloth first and allow time for drying before giving a final wipe with a dry cloth.
- Peel. Remove the paper backing to expose the adhesive.
- Apply. If you are applying a large piece of paper, make this a two-person job; start at one end of your shape and work your way across, removing the backing as you go. Once you’ve affixed the paper to the surface, smooth out any air bubbles by pushing them towards the edge with your fingers or the edge of a credit card.
If you follow these steps, your fabulous new chalkboard will look like this:
Priming the Surface
As we said, chalkboard paper is designed to ensure easy erasing of both liquid chalk markers and traditional chalk. We want to be sure, however, that throughout its long life of three years or more, your chalkboard contact paper will never be haunted by “ghosts” (stains that occur when chalk marker ink is not fully erased). Priming the surface with traditional chalk will create a fine coating that ensures you’ll never need to give erasing a second thought.
Here are the steps for priming:
- Coat. Cover the entire surface of your contact paper with chalk.
- Erase. Using a dry cloth, wipe away only the chalk that comes off immediately.
Even out. Rub the remaining chalk residue with a clean, dry rag so that it cannot be seen but leaves a fine coating over the entire surface.
- Start writing! When using liquid chalk markers, do not press too hard. Pushing the marker tip, especially the chisel tip, too firmly into the surface can cause tiny dents that will trap ink, making erasing more difficult.
Surfaces to Avoid When Using Chalkboard Contact Paper
Part of the beauty of Versachalk’s chalkboard contact paper is that it doesn’t require a “long-term commitment.” You can easily remove the contact paper from a wall or other surface without causing any damage, and reuse it somewhere else because the adhesive will remain intact. Redesigning your creative space is quick and easy whenever new inspiration hits!
However, there are a few types of surfaces that are not well suited to the use of chalkboard contact paper. To be certain that no damage to walls occurs and to ensure optimal performance of your new chalkboard, avoid applying the contact paper to the following surfaces:
- Newly painted surfaces, including those that seem dry but are not fully cured (that is, the paint feels dry to the touch but may not be fully dry below the surface)
- Unpainted or unsealed drywall, or drywall less than one year old
- Highly textured surfaces (See above, “Choose a smooth surface,” for a description of how to determine if a surface has too much texture.)
- Surfaces coated with high gloss or scrubbable paint
- Walls in high-moisture areas, such as bathrooms
- Walls with old paint that has begun to crack or blister
Stick It on Tight and Let Your Imagination Take Flight
Martha Stewart’s chalkboards serve as wall calendars, mudroom murals, message centers, pantry reminders, customizable plant pots for special events, and much more. Now that you know how to use chalkboard contact paper, you can turn your business or home into a vast canvas that dazzles customers or friends, feeds your creative side, and serves countless practical purposes to keep your work and life organized.
We can’t wait to see the ideas you dream up with a whole array of chalkboard surfaces at your disposal every day!
Turn any surface into a chalkboard!
Chalk goes high-tech
Most of us remember chalk from our childhood—the writing instrument that left dust on our hands. Some kids even contracted skin conditions because of it. Yet people love using it as a medium for expressing creativity. Children especially love the variety of colors. They won’t hesitate ‘spreading chalk love’ on everything, including walls, doors, floors and refrigerators. Some draw on their food; others on their pets. Enterprising ones feed pets with chalk.
Chalk has gone from low-tech to high-tech. Take advantage!
Dust to dust... not!
From its humble beginnings, chalk has evolved to exist in different forms. The most interesting development is the advent of the liquid chalk marker. This has the benefit of being odorless, dustless and non-toxic. No more smelly fumes, skin-problem-inducing dust and poison. So even if your kid makes Fido taste his new liquid marker, you won’t need to take him to the vet.
The birth of chalk
So how did liquid chalk markers come about? First off, let’s examine its predecessor: the humble powdered chalk, which comes from limestone. Chalk is found in huge stacks of rock called the Chalk Formation in Southern England. Regular chalk is made up of calcium carbonate (limestone) and calcium sulfate (gypsum), with a small amount of calcium oxide. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, chalk powder is made up of the shells of tiny marine organisms.
Inventors of the liquid marker
Walter J. De Groft patented a ‘marking pen’ with a felt tip in 1944. The marker’s handle contained a type of liquid ink. In 1964, this pen became the first ‘Sharpie’. It was Sidney Rosenthal who invented the first modern marker pen. He marketed it in 1953 as the ‘Magic Marker’. Chinese companies hold patents for liquid chalk.
Chalkboards make great advertisements
What is liquid chalk made of?
It comes from magnesium carbonate. Some forms of ‘liquid chalk’ do not contain actual chalk, despite the term. The Chinese formula consists of polyvinyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol and color essences.
The components of a liquid chalk marker include a water-based color solution (a mixture of water and dyes), a porous plastic nib, a plastic barrel, a cotton filament and a cap. The tip is usually made of porous, pressed fibers like felt.
The best chalkboard markers are those that don’t leave a dusty residue—and are odorless, waterproof and non-toxic. More importantly, you cannot inhale liquid chalk! Possibly the best advantage of liquid chalkboard markers is that the liquid ink is easy to wipe off, so you can reuse your chosen canvas. Removing liquid chalk from chalkboards and other surfaces is a breeze. Simply wipe off with a damp cloth. Liquid chalk marker sellers like Versachalk have their own cleaning kits. These kits make removing liquid chalk less of a chore and more of a fun activity, especially when you get children involved.
Liquid chalk comes in different forms:
* Marking pens with water-soluble ink
* Mixtures used in sports like rock climbing, weightlifting and gymnastics
* Hobby and craft paints made of cornstarch (some with flour) and food coloring
Liquid chalk writing instruments are presented in various containers:
* Marker pens
* Felt-tip markers or pens
* Textas (how they are called in Australia)
* Sketch pens (how they are called in India)Now that you know the difference between regular chalk and the liquid kind, isn’t it time for you to make the switch? Try our liquid writing wonder, Versachalk!
Party decorating ideas with a Mardi Gras theme
When people say ‘Mardi Gras’, images of colorful, raucous Brazilian street parties come to mind. We do have our own celebrations here in the USA. In fact, Mardi Gras on February 28 is a state holiday for Alabama and Louisiana.
Join the celebrations by staging your own Mardi Gras-themed party. Here are some ideas for the decor. Projects are meant to be simple, with materials readily available from your kitchen, your neighborhood Michael’s or the dollar store. Once you collect the raw material, you will need tools and canvases. We suggest Versachalk liquid chalk markers to make your designs pop. These come with complementary media: chalkboards, chalkboard contact paper, labels and mason jar lid covers.
The face mask is a great blank canvas. Showcase your designs on it with liquid chalk.
DIY Venetian-inspired face mask
The young woman who created this party face mask is selling extras on eBay. You can make your own. Cut a face-width piece from a sheet of removable chalkboard contact paper (ours is made of soft, flexible vinyl). If you need a guide, place a sleep mask on the backing of the vinyl sheet and trace around it. Cut two big holes for the eyes and two smaller ones near the edges for threading the ribbon through (for securing the mask around the head). Separate flap for the nose—optional.
One your mask canvas is ready, you can decorate it however you want. We designed our mask with chalk pens and attached a feather for effect. You can let your imagination run wild. Instead of dots, you can use gemstones, gold studs and even nuts! Beware of squirrels, though.
What better way to announce your party than neon liquid ink on a chalkboard or a pane of glass? After the revelry is over, simply wipe off the writing for the next party. Our announcement was written on a slate chalkboard.
Liquid chalk can be used on glass and metal. Use it to make your wine glasses sparkle.
If you don’t want to use your expensive crystal, buy plastic goblets from the dollar store. Chalk pens will add sparkle. Place your decorated wine glasses on top of tempered glass with a lighted candle underneath to give them that special glow. Or surround them with wine bottles, beaded necklaces and other shiny bric-a-brac. Use festival-inspired lingo. We chose: “Sin, repent, repeat.”
Bottle tags—no more switcheroos!
Bottle tags and drink labels
Placing labels on glasses solves the problem of drink switching. Bottle tags ensure guests don’t walk away with your prized Château Latour. Use liquid chalk markers to write attendees’ names on chalkboard labels, then stick these on the glasses. Labels are removable and liquid chalk can be wiped off with a wet cloth.
Door hanger photo courtesy Angela’s Creative Craft
If you have a handheld electric saw or other wood carver, you can cut chalkboards to the shape you want, then go to town drawing and painting on it. Use a glue gun to stick your choice of bauble on it. If you only have scissors and prefer to work with pliable material, your best bet is the chalkboard contact paper. Mix up your media: combine wood, paper, liquid chalk, thumbtacks, sequins, ribbons, fabric, costume jewelry, and suchlike. Preserve your bling with a shimmer sealer.
Spice jars can be used to show off ‘throws’ (goodies tossed to the crowd during parades). Use pre-cut chalkboard labels to write names or contents. Both liquid chalk markers and traditional chalk work on them. Just peel off the backing from the vinyl sheet and stick the labels on jars, bottles, Tupperware, or other container.
Who says jar covers are boring? Make them sing with liquid chalk!
Mason jar lids
A variation of the above would be to decorate the lids of mason jars—if you don’t want anything covering the glass of your containers. The equivalent of the stick-on labels are metal mason jar lid covers.
Other decorative items you can ‘chalkify’:
- Picture frames
Whatever project you plan, don’t forget to party!