Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Magic Chalk

I'm feeling oddly sentimental today. Not that feeling sentimental is bad, though it's not my most common emotion, by far. No, the odd part is what has sparked these feelings: chalkboard paint. Let me explain.

Last weekend was Tansy Dolls' first craft fair. (Thanks to those of you that came to see us! We love you guys!) We wanted to do it right, so as you guys know we've been working on our booth off and on for over a month. There were a lot of tiny details we really wanted to get right. The right colors, the right display ideas, the right props and presentation. One of those details are these cute little chalkboard signs to label the dolls and goodies. I suppose we could have bought some, but we are pretty crafty...

We used these little wooden plaques, painted the top surface with chalkboard paint, then the rest with the same color at the crates. If you haven't used chalkboard paint before, it's really easy and makes for a fun, versatile end product. Anyway, once you've painted it on and let it dry (a nice long time!), you have to prep the chalkboard surface by coloring all over it with chalk, then erasing it really well. That final step is what really helps turn it into a chalkboard.
To finish prepping the chalkboard surface scribble all over it with chalk and erase thoroughly. Repeat until it looks like a chalkboard.
Well, last week when I finished painting our little chalkboard signs and they were all nice and dry, I went to go grab some chalk to prep them with. I found Max's bright sidewalk chalk, but no nice plain white chalk. I didn't want to prep with color (it shows) and was getting all annoyed at myself for not thinking to buy chalk earlier. Especially because last week, if you remember, was Thanksgiving and I really didn't want to brave the store just for chalk. I was digging through all my craft supplies looking for white chalk and coming up empty. Then I found this little dented Altoids tin in the bottom of box. And sure enough, folded up inside some paper for protection, was my Magic Chalk. Yes; Magic Chalk.

So here's where the sentimental part starts. Some of you know and some of you don't, but my career goal is to be a high school math teacher. I'm getting close, but there have been several hiccups on this journey. My dad was very good at math, and I can credit him for a lot of my love and understanding of it. In fact, we have a lot of math and science in my family. My mom, dad, sister, grandfather, and several aunt-and-uncle types are all what I would call math/science folk. While I've always really loved math, there was a time there when I thought I wanted to teach sociology or psychology or something. It was the math people in my life that helped me get back to what I love.

Mr. Merbach was my Calculus teacher in North Dakota and he told me over and over again that I shouldn't turn my back on something I obviously loved. Later, in California, my math teachers were always supportive of my dream and seemed to understand that it was more of a calling than an ambition. (Ok, I know that sounds pretentious, but go ask a teacher; it's true.) Toward the very end of my Math degree I was talking with a professor in the math department office about wanting to teach. One of my math teachers, Prof. Callahan, stopped in and said something along the lines of how he thought I'd be a great teacher. (*sniff*) I talked with this professor some more about my dad, my grandfather, and family traditions of math and science. It turns out he'd taken classes from my Grandfather! Anyway, we bonded. I really wish I had any idea what his name was!

Right before I left he took me back to his office and presented me, rather ceremoniously, with the Magic Chalk. He wrapped it in paper and put it in the Altoids tin for safe keeping. He said he'd been teaching for decades and this was the best chalk ever. He used to buy it by the case, but the company went out of business. Then classrooms started switching to white boards. He maintained that chalkboards were far superior and always fought for classrooms that still had one. He was rationing out his Magic Chalk now, but insisted that I take some. He said he could tell that I was going to be a great teacher (*sniff sniff*) and it would bring me luck. He told me to hold on to it and it use it for something that mattered and take at least one little bit into my first classroom. Now, I'm not the most superstitious person, but I certainly have a healthy streak of sentiment, so I've held onto it. And last week the Magic Chalk helped me get our booth ready for that first Tansy Dolls craft fair.

It just seems so interconnected sometimes; these crazy life paths we end up on all come full circle. That's the sentimental part. Learning to love crafting from my mom. Learning to love math from my dad. Getting encouragement from my math teachers. The Magic Chalk helping me get ready for a craft fair. Anyway. All of you who have given me so much support and love in all areas of my life I love you guys and I'm trying to live up to your dreams and mine. Mr. Merbach, you were right; math is what I really love and I hope I'm half the teacher you are. Gifter of the Magic Chalk, thank you for bringing some luck to our fledgling business. Mom, Dad, thanks for imparting so much passion into my life.

Ok, I'll get back to a tutorial or something next week, but thanks for taking an oddly sentimental break with me.


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