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Vaillancourt Folk Art’s Dedication To Collectible Chalkware — And Collectors

Vaillancourt Folk Art Halloween Display

Vaillancourt Folk Art Halloween Display

Continuing my interview with Luke M. Vaillancourt of Vaillancourt Folk Art

One thing that truly impresses me about your company is the real dedication you have to collectors. How did you know you ought to put on your website a collectors area with an identification guide etc.?

When I started working for the company in 2007, I came from a heavy digital marketing, eCommerce background. My first goal was to take over the web site and to recreate it to meet contemporary standards and to give people a reason to visit and stay on the site. We would get dozens of calls a week asking questions about certain pieces, both from collectors and casual shoppers. To help them, I wanted to create a Collector’s Handbook that included information and images on every piece in the collection. My mother had kept a very detailed database, and when I took over the web site I was able to integrate the database so that web visitors could easily look up information.

Gallery of Vailancourt Folk Art

Gallery of Vailancourt Folk Art

When we first launched the web site, our collectors poured through the thousands of pages and would actually e-mail us missing images, or let us know if they thought some information may be different. We actually had 4 collectors send us 5 page highly detailed emails about the pieces. One even found date and color variation that was inconsistent with their own!

The Collector’s Handbook also gives people a sense of value. We get countless calls a year asking for an appraisal value for their collection for insurance purposes. This helps them find the values for their own inventory needs! Although we have the web site, we are always more than happy to help anyone over the phone or in person. We pride ourselves on our customer service and knowledge of the pieces.

I often marvel at the number of companies which do not do this, so kudos to you! Your amazing dedication to your fans, to collectors, is amazing — you even host events for collectors.

There are thousands of families that collect Vaillancourt Chalkware, and those who are the serious collector are known to have hundreds of pieces. In April of each year, we host a Collector’s Weekend, where we have an entire weekend dedicated to our work.

Collectors Painting Their Own Vaillaincourt Chalkware

Collectors Painting Their Own Vaillaincourt Chalkware

Collectors, both casual and serious collectors, fly in from all over the country and sit in our painting workshops (where they can paint their own limited edition Collector’s Weekend Santa), sit through educational lectures on Christmas History, Vaillancourt History, and other from keynote speakers.

One thing that I think is important to note is that chalkware, although a Victorian art form, was re-erected by Judi. Although she is very humble and would never take any credit, upon doing research I learned that she was the one that truly started using antique confectionery moulds (mostly for chocolates) in this way. While Victorian chalkware existed for years, it was an untreated medium used mostly with watercolors and minimum detail; as a replacement to porcelain, Victorian chalkware was inexpensive.

My mother, a true Christmas historian and artist, received three moulds as a gift from my father. When she was stuck at home, she decided to use these chocolate moulds of Father Christmases to first create beeswax figures (she put them in the refrigerator to harden and me, as a young boy, I seemed to always knock them over and make a mess!!). She decided that instead of beeswax to use a plaster substance. Being a traditionally trained artist and illustrator, she saw these chalkware figures as the perfect canvas, and used her talent of oil painting as a way to create such highly detailed pieces of art work.

Vaillancourt Collector's Weekend

Vaillancourt Collector's Weekend

There are several other “Folk Art” companies that have taken this story and adapted it into their own, and often when I am doing research on the web, I find passages that they have copied and pasted from our web site into their own (much to my amazement). But what is most interesting is that “Folk Art” has always been more about wood carvings and historical woodwork (like how my mother started Vaillancourt Folk Art)… most of these other companies that add “folk art” after their last name do none of the sort and instead focus on “chalkware”… coincidence?

All in all, what started the collectiblity of Vaillancourt Chalkware — and what has kept it in the spot light — was the uniqueness, the immense detail and research history that goes into every piece that Judi designs. Her vision and passion for the art form, combined with my father’s marketing and business ingenuity has allowed Vaillancourt Chalkware to be nationally recognized and collected for a quarter of a century.

And I dare say your commitment to Vaillancourt collectors — the Vaillancourt Studios even has a museum!

Vaillancourt Folk Art Museum

Vaillancourt Folk Art Museum

The museum started once we moved to the 1800s textile mill that we currently reside in. We moved to the mill (where Fruit of the Loom started) in 2007 and created the museum so that all of the chalkware figures, and our collection of antique confectionery moulds (we have about 7,000) could be displayed.

It is great for visitors to visit our studios because they are able to see our artists working, and then go to the museum and explore the different designs over the years.

We have about 1,500 different pieces, created by Judi, in the museum on display — including lots of custom pieces done for Museum of Fine Arts, MET, and Colonial Williamsburg.

Any tips for chalkware collectors?

Vaillancourt Folk Art Store

Vaillancourt Folk Art Store

The best thing for any collector to do is to find a piece that speaks to them. Vaillancourt’s goal is to create 1 piece that can be given to a loved one, or close friend, that will be cherished and passed down to generations. We attempt to create christmas traditions, and are happy to be included in hundreds of families traditions. It is the most satisfying thing to know that on Christmas morning (or any day) many loved ones are opening their Vaillancourt Chalkware as their main Christmas gift.

Thanks, Luke; Vaillancourt’s dedication to both the art & collectors of chalkware sure shows. Impressive.

CQ folks, you can see Vaillancourt Folk Art featured on Antiques Roadshow (and others) in this video — and you can keep up with Vaillancourt Folk Art at their website, at Twitter, and on Facebook.

Vaillancourt Chalkware & Confectionery Molds On Display

Vaillancourt Chalkware & Confectionery Molds On Display


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Deb Ok guys I am very new to this so I am looking for a little assistance . I have a few things from clean outs and such that I would like some opinions on . I am not really sure what I have here but it seems to me that someone must want it and I hate to let it just be left in a box some where. So first things first I have many vintage vanity fair magazine covers if anyone is interested please contact me . crazylady77@comcast.net. September 7th, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Complete Cleanse How shortly does the risk trial expire? April 15th, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Jan Now I really want to go to the Vaillancourt Folk Art Museum and see all of those chalkware pieces... I'm dying to see one... :D Can I take them home? Or maybe I'll just have to sneak them out of there... lol... just kidding... I love the dedication you have on chalkware... :D May 22nd, 2011 at 8:12 AM

CHARLENE AND TOM BIRD My husband and I drove over Sunday the 16th, from Old Sturbridge Village, after attending and working at the two day HSEAD Open House of their new HSEAD Research Center located in the David Wright House on the property of OSV. HSEAD also held an HSEAD Auction Saturday the 15th, on the OSV property, drawing many to bid on our lovely decorative arts donations. Fall 1991,HSEAD had a tour of your shop and upstars craft room, which many of us recall with fond memories. It was a real treat,and I was thriled once again to be able to visit your newer shop and craft room. We spent over an hour looking at Santa's and molds,talking with your very helpful store employee(red glasses). Perhaps someday HSEAD will have a Santa, carrying a bag with the logo H.S.E.A.D. I last chatted with Judy at a Christmas show, Dec. 2006,Valley Forge Convention center. We wish you a very prosperous Christmas! Charlene and Tom Bird. October 18th, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Nail Designs Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. Nevertheless imagine if you added some great images or video clips to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this website could certainly be one of the best in its niche. Very good blog! May 5th, 2013 at 6:13 AM

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After reading my Collectors' Quest article on chalkware, Luke M. Vaillancourt, of Vaillancourt Folk Art contacted me -- and if...

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