Product Type: Ikea Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... having much space in the home we were in at the time and it still looks as good as new, after a bit of a clean - it had not been damaged ... more
Ikea Mala Easel
Member Name: sirg0508
Ikea Mala Easel
Advantages: Lots of different uses, cheap, easy to clean
Disadvantages: Only 1 tray
Like all children, my nephew loves to draw so for his 3rd birthday his Gran and Granddad bought him a MALA Easel from Ikea. After searching for a good few months they went for the MALA because it's far cheaper than a lot of other easels around, it's got the tray to hold pens and chalk and it has both the blackboard and whiteboard on it with the option of buying a roll of paper too so it has quite a few uses.
These last points are almost a down side to the easel though because although it's very decently priced at £15.99 you've then still got the additional cost of pens, chalk and the roll of paper. There are quite a few different items in the MALA range so they ended up getting the pack of 6 felt pens/stampers for 99p, the drawing paper roll at £2.99 and the pack of 24 chalks at 99p but there's also white board pens, paint, scissors, brushes etc available too although you can obviously buy these elsewhere.
The easel comes ready built but folded flat for easy storage. It is quite tall but will lie down behind the front seats in a Honda Jazz or stand up behind one seat at an angle. When unpacking it the legs just have to be spread apart and the tray will slot into place. For the roll of paper it's just like putting a toilet roll on the holder by putting the thin wooden pole through the roll and the indents in the easel will ensure it stays in place. The paper then goes up through the inside of the easel and can be placed over the chalk board or white board to be drawn on. The child can then just pull the bottom of the roll to have a clear space to draw on (although nephew will insist on moving the paper after each line drawn!). This can also mean masterpieces to be stuck on the fridge are a lot bigger than A4 size.
At 3 years old my nephew is tall enough to reach the top of the black and white boards but he'll usually only dust the blackboard to about ¾ of the way up. The chalks from the MALA range show up well against the black (could be brighter perhaps) and it's easy to wipe to the board clean again. Unfortunately nephew doesn't appreciate my artwork so he's always pretty quick to erase whatever is there. I even managed to draw something that resembled Lightning McQueen even with the decal detailing. By rubbing the chalk with your finger it makes a much smoother drawing too. If there's been a lot of chalk used it can gather on the frame and drops into the pen tray but it is easy enough to wipe with a wet cloth or vacuum up.
We've got the paper laid over the whiteboard as we don't have the whiteboard pens. If it had been over the blackboard there's a slot for the paper so it gathers between the two boards rather than at your feet. This is missing on the whiteboard side but until there's a lot of paper there it doesn't cause too much trouble although it looks like this can differ as the picture on the Ikea site shows the slot on the whiteboard side. The whiteboard also doesn't have the tray under it (again this could differ) so you need to keep going round to the other side to get a pen. The paper doesn't quite reach the edges of the frame so there have been many occasions when nephew has drawn on the whiteboard with the felt pens. Although you can buy separate whiteboard pens, the felt pens will rub off (takes a little more work than whiteboard pens) but with the darker colours especially it doesn't leave the whiteboard quite as white as it should be so nephew knows he must draw on the paper but it's not the end of the world if he does veer off it.
The whole thing is very sturdy. There's no way for the legs to fold in and topple the board over and it's still light enough for nephew to pull it out (as we've got it against the wall) so he can draw on either side. It's on the laminate floor in our house and it doesn't slide on the floor while it's being drawn on. To save wasting paper there is the possibility of using the other side of the paper because it is thick but some of the darker colours do show through and the MALA felt pens have a point on them so you can see the dent coming through the other side.
I'm glad they did buy the chalks for it rather than just having the whiteboard and paper though because they are very different. I'm sure they will buy whiteboard pens at some point - luckily nephew knows not to draw on the walls with the felt pens! The frame is wooden so it is very likely to end up with pen on it but it could easily be painted and decorated to suit the colour of a child's room and varnished so it would be easy to wipe. One feature missing which I would liked to have had on it was a magnetic board to put letters on but again if this was on the whiteboard side the tray wouldn't have been there to store the letters.
Overall, I do think it's a great product for the price. Most of the easels for kids are more than double the price but nephew has had plenty of use out of his so far. Every time he visits I've something drawn on it ready for him to colour in (like his initial), smiley faces or recognisable characters. It's great for their imagination - at one point we had rolling hills, rainbow, snow, a big sun, tornado, lightning, a strawberry, banana, flower and Christmas tree drawn on the blackboard - he loved it!
If it is a gift, it's not very practical to wrap. We put it in a blue bin bag but nephew didn't really understand what it was until it had been unfolded.
Summary: Good value art easel from Ikea
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