Tablets are as old as the Stone Age. We may have recently figured out a way to make them multitasking, interactive addictions, but their basic function – to write our thoughts down – is still at the core of their value, which is why simple pieces like the handcrafted Chalkboard Pad are making a comeback.
As its name would suggest, the Chalkboard Pad is a slab of wood covered with chalkboard paint, which features a leather strap to hold a chalk pencil in place, and a hole in the top so it can be hung or secured with a stand.
The old-school tablet was created by husband and wife team Walter and Margaux Kent, who create handmade goods out of reclaimed items – reminding customers of the past while serving them in the present.
Like many of their products, the initial idea for the Chalkboard Pad sprung out of necessity. Walter, whose father is a cabinetmaker, always made lists on scraps of wood. One day Margaux found one of these lists, and the idea was hatched.
Originally, they made a Chalkboard Tablet (their Chalkboard Pad’s smaller predecessor), and after people started comparing it to the iPhone, they came up with the Pad. “We aren’t inventing anything new,” says Margaux. “We are just putting it in a modern context.”
Regardless, the Pad and Tablet have resonated with folks who say they feel a special link to the past and to their products because of how they’re made. “We try to always connect with where we got the materials,” says Margaux. “We try to use every bit. We try to create something that endures.”
The wood used to build the Chalkboard Pad ($50) comes from a variety of historical sources – ranging from church pews to discarded bleachers – and although sanded, it may show wear from nail marks, bug holes and prior use. The leather straps are made from gun slings taken from the early 1900s. Each of their products comes with a tag explaining to buyers where the materials originated to further emphasize the customer’s relationship to the product.
“People are attracted to the simplicity of it,” says Walter. “The old-fashioned-ness of it.” Their company has expanded, but all their goods (as all products were at one time) are still crafted by hand, one at a time.