Product Type: Halsall Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... this as her previous blackboard was largely unused as she despises having dusty hands so with this one she at least has the choice of us... more
Encouraging the artists of the future!
Halsall Art Centre Wooden Blackboard & Easel
Member Name: i_am_joy
Halsall Art Centre Wooden Blackboard & Easel
Advantages: Looks fantastic, has both a black and white board, excellent play value for youngsters
Disadvantages: I think the tray should be fixed, very tiny screws to assemble the easel
When my granddaughter turned two years old in June she received this Art Centre Wooden Blackboard and Easel, she loves it so much that a couple of weeks ago I ended up buying one to keep at my house for when she visits.
The blackboard comes in pieces and it's an easy (if fiddly) job to assemble it. My main problem was the tiny size of the screws and the fact that they are blunt ended, this made them awkward to push through the plastic straps which control the opening and closing of the easel and an absolute nightmare to screw into the wooden frame. It took me around half an hour, and a little cussing, to assemble the product while my granddaughter stood impatiently tapping her little foot and attempting to draw on it while I was balancing it and struggling with the screwdriver!
Once assembled however it's an absolutely excellent product. One on side you have a traditional blackboard, whereas the other side has a shiny white board which can be used for both crayons and paints. I was impressed with this as her previous blackboard was largely unused as she despises having dusty hands so with this one she at least has the choice of using chalks or the less messy crayons.
I have found the blackboard relatively easy to clean, I say relatively because when she uses her chunky Crayola crayons they do seem to take rather more rubbing to remove the marks from the white board. However, providing she just uses her cheaper crayons a baby wipe or regular cleaning cloth will very easily remove all her artistic scribblings. I'm not sure why this is the case, although I suspect the Crayola crayons have a higher grease content or perhaps it's simply because they are a higher quality and produce more vibrant colours which will obviously be harder to remove.
The blackboard side cleans easily when simple chalks are used, white and coloured chalks wipe off easily using the dry sponge which came with the easel although if your little one happens to get crayon on the board then you will need to use a damp cloth or baby wipe to get it completely clean. It is a battle trying to explain to a two year old that crayons should be kept to the white board and chalks to the blackboard, but luckily the design of the easel means that the two boards can be cleaned although a little effort is required should she mistakenly (or deliberately I suspect) use the wrong one!
One thing I will say is that the untreated frame of the easel is an absolute nightmare to clean if crayon gets on it, it can be done but it takes an awful lot of hard work so I would suggest you use some kind of varnish on it. This not only gives the impression of a more professional easel, but will also make it extremely simple to wipe off any crayon or paint residue.
Once erected the easel is extremely sturdy and doesn't wobble or fall over at inopportune moments, my granddaughter can be rather heavy handed and has not yet pulled it over or knocked it so hard that it falls or collapses in on itself. My only issue with this easel is the fact that the tray which is located underneath the boards is not fixed and simply balances across the actual frame of the easel and can easily be flipped up if knocked, resulting in paints and chalks catapulting across the room. This could have been better designed in my opinion and actually fixed to the body of the easel, I'm sure the clever people who made the easel could design a tray which would be a permanent fixture yet still allow the easel to be closed.
The easel is exceedingly simple to fold, it's really just a case of removing the tray then closing the easel. This results in it being very flat and easy to store so that you don't constantly need to have the easel in the middle of your living room, although to be honest it's such an attractive toy that if you have the room I would certainly recommend keeping it up to save the bother of having to find somewhere for the tray and accessories to go.
I paid £12.49 for this excellent easel from The Entertainer, although this was on a sale day and the price is now £24.99. I still think it's very good value if you have a budding artist in your family as it looks fantastic, encourages creativity and is a more fun present than the same old cuddly toys children seem to receive these days.
Summary: An excellent creative gift for any little one you need to buy for.