The history of chalkware is well documented—during the 19th century, chalkware was an inexpensive alternative to imported decorative objects for rural families. Dubbed “the poor man’s porcelain” Victorian chalkware was mostly hollow and sparsely painted with watercolors as an alternative to the Staffordshire ceramic figurines. Today’s chalkware collectibles, created by Judi Vaillancourt, also has its own distinct history of collecting. One of Judi Vaillancourt’s original Chalkware Santa designs from the early 1980s. During the heydays of the bicentennial, the Americana movement made folk artists’ works available to a wide range of consumers. Long before online and big box shops existed, shoppers would flood craft fairs and art festivals to bring home craftsman-made decorations. During these early days is when Judi Vaillancourt first found a market for her chalkware—one of many product lines that she’d bring to market. The early chalkware Santas and rabbits were sparse of detail and created with a crackle finish to mimic the look and feel of antiques. Over time, Judi was threatened by overseas manufacturers looking to profit by mass producing imitations. Her instinct to increase the quality was simply to help the company survive against knockoff designs, but it turned out the quality increase was a natural step to evolve her designs to contemporary standards. Today, Vaillancourt chalkware is considered fine art quality and is sold throughout stores around the country. Most interestingly, however, you’ll also find that some of the original chalkware designs are starting to appear as collections in museums—like St. Nicholas appearing in The Museum of Russian Icons. As Vaillancourt continues to produce chalkware collectibles to consumers, we are happy to see that we’re continuing to create fine art quality chalkware that is passed on through generations and are part of family’s traditions. For those looking to take home some of the original designs, please see the museum vault collection where we’ve made available some past favorites with the original look and feel of the early Vaillancourt chalkware.