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Two chalkware figurines

Chalkware refers to figurines either made of sculpted gypsum or cast from plaster moulds and painted with watercolors;[1] most typically those made in one of two periods: the first beginning in the late 18th century and ending by the beginning of the 20th century, the second being during the Great Depression. Those made during the first period were more typically serious art; those during the second period were more typically somewhat jocular. Early chalkware was often hollow and can be difficult to find unblemished.

Today, chalkware is more commonly known as a high quality art medium. Judi Vaillancourt was the first[2] to created this medium using a fine plaster substance combined with confectionery moulds to create long lasting collectibles;[3] making them commercially available under the company Vaillancourt Folk Art.[4] Chalkware is still commercially available today using the moulding technique developed by Vaillancourt[5] at department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Macy's, and museum gift shoppes like Colonial Williamsburg [6] and Old Sturbridge Village.[7]

Carnival chalk[edit]

“Carnival chalk” refers to chalkware figures given out as carnival game prizes during the first half of the 20th century. Later, they were mostly replaced by the more popular (and usually more politically correct)[clarification needed] stuffed animals.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Staff Writer. (1988, August). Folk artists. Early American Life, Cover, 17, 40, 46, 49-50.
  3. ^ Lewis, Hal. "Top Folk Art Designers." (2008): n. pag. Web. 7 Apr 2010. <>.
  4. ^ Dees, B. (1997). Santa’s price guide to contemporary Christmas collectibles. Iola, WI: Krause Publications.
  5. ^ Elliott, S. K. (2013, April). In the studio with judi vaillancourt. Treasures, 14-16. Retrieved from
  6. ^
  7. ^ Staff Writer. (2011, November 21). Molding tradition: Vaillancourt folk art designs osv figurines from antique chocolate molds. Old Sturbridge Village Visitor, Winter, 10-11. Retrieved from