"Seasoning" a Chalkboard So It Will Last
Over the years we've sold a lot of Art Easels with chalkboards. Every now and again, we would get a call from a customer who reported that the very first drawing that they drew would stay on the chalkboard forever and couldn't be erased. The customers were usually completely mortified that their brand new beautiful chalboard was now damaged. The pattern of complaints was not limited to one manufacturer's chalkboards, nor was it even a large portion of the chalkboards that we were selling.
I always wondered if every manufacturer would produce some quantity of defective chalkboards that would have this problem. We'd always get the customer a new chalkboard and invariably the customer would come back with the same issue and decide to return the entire unit. When it happened, I would scratch my head and wonder why, but never put more thought into it.
At the International Toy Fair this year we were chatting with the owners of BEKA. BEKA is an American manufacturers of Art Easels, Puppet Theaters, Blocks and all sorts of other great things. They pride themselves on making high quaulity products. We were talking about the care and feeding of their great products and the solution to the chalkboard issue came up. And it's unbelievably simple.
Why chalkboards will "ghost"
The reason for ghost images that can't be erased is really quite simple. A chalkboard that has never been used before doesn't have any chalk on it. Duh!! But how does that tie into the problem? Chalkboards appear to be smooth surfaces. However, in reality, they are actually fairly rough and porous on a microscopic level.
When we draw our first picture on the chalkboard, we press down on the point of the chalk and jam chalk into the little pores and clog them up with lots of chalk. Then we erase the image and spread not so jamed up chalk dust into all of the surrounding pores. We end up with a ghost image.
Season a new board in two easy steps
The solution is rediculously simple. Before you draw anything on your chalkboard you want to season it. Simply take the long edge of a piece of chalk and rub it all over the board and erase it. This will put an even layer of chalk in the pores all over the board. Any future drawings will be very easy to erase. Voila! Problem averted.
This simple solution can save you the heart wrenching agony (or at least the annoyance) of having a nice $200 gift for your child ruined.