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What is Chalkware?

Chalkware blanks being produced within the pouring room at the Vaillancourt Folk Art studios in Sutton, MA.
Chalkware blanks being produced within the pouring room at the Vaillancourt Folk Art studios in Sutton, MA.

During the 19th century, chalkware was sculpted gypsum painted effortlessly with watercolors. Because most chalkware was sold by carnival vendors, it was considered the “poor man’s porcelain.”

As described in the Vaillancourt Story, Judi, an artist and Christmas historian, received three antique chocolate moulds and decided to recreate the 19th century art form by creating the first commercial use of contemporary chalkware figures using historical chocolate molds to shape her new 3-dimensional canvas with a liquid chalk.

Although dozens of individuals and organizations have adopted this story into their own history, Judi Vaillancourt was the first artist to apply her oil painting talent, her love of history and Christmas, and ingenuity to create contemporary chalkware using chocolate moulds.

Her method of creating the modern chalkware with this technique was first recognized in 1988 by Early American Life, 1989 by Colonial Homes, 1991 by Collector Editions and has been recognized in countless national and local publications since–including a feature story in Yankee Magazine in 2005 and throughout both the Colonial Williamsburg foundation and catalogs.

With one of the largest personal collection of vintage confectionery moulds in the world, Judi continues to find inspiration from historical contexts and hand-paints each piece that is produced in her Sutton studios.

Read about the history of Vaillancourt Folk Art

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