When I think of chalk, two things come to mind. Thin, white sticks used by my elementary school teachers, and big, round, colorful sticks that appear in the summertime for driveway “art.” Matt Austin’s Chalkware sets are anything but those two things, and bring a decorative aspect to a medium that is still meant for play.
Matt Austin is a self-taught artist and designer in New York City. According to his website, he works in private and commercial settings, in addition to creating his Chalkware sets with his plasterworks specialist brother. Each box has a theme and contains multiple pieces of chalk sculpted into everyday objects.
We received the “Junk Drawer” set that contains eight custom carved pieces: three dice, an open lipstick tube, a seashell, a screw, a salt shaker and a toothpaste (or glue, cream, etc.) tube. Other sets in his collection include Metropolis (city skyscrapers), Traffic Jam (cars), and Oceaniac (seashells).
My 4 year-old son was very confused by the product at first. I told him it was chalk, but it took him a while to comprehend it. He was intrigued by the shapes and had fun identifying each one. Once I showed him it was, in fact, chalk, he had fun doodling on our chalkboard easel and on the driveway outside.
Some of the pieces, especially the die, were hard for his little hands to grasp. However, the different shapes and sizes do provide good practice for children to develop the proper placement of their fingers for writing. Our son’s preschool teacher had suggested using smaller writing instruments to help him learn the correct grasp, so this chalk set arrived with great timing.
These sets of chalk are certainly not a necessity, but a whimsical gift for adults and older children (approximately 6 and up). The distinctive shapes and themes are great conversation topics. One fun suggestion is to use the chalk at a party – laying them out on a chalkboard runner and letting guests doodle as they please. They could also be used for display/decoration, or as a unique hostess gift.
While I was very skeptical of the concept at first, the pieces grew on me and certainly were fun to have around the house. Lots of visitors noticed them and thought it was a neat concept. Certainly not your everyday chalk, the Junk Drawer kit provided us with a unique new activity, both indoors and out.
Matt Austin Studios Chalkware
Made by Matt Austin Studios
Available online at above website as well as at specialty boutiques.
Ease of Use 3
Appealed to children 4
Kept child(ren)’s interest 3
Other materials were required to complete? No
I would purchase this product: No
I would give this product as a gift: Maybe
Overall rating: 3
Meet the Reviewer!
Christy Petrak is a systems engineer currently taking a leave of absence to raise her two children, Thomas (4) and Eliza (1). She enjoys spending time with her family, swimming and baking/decorating cupcakes.