When it comes right down to it, we have to face facts: chalk is messy – it smears to the touch and generates dust both to use and clean. Still, blackboards have an unshakable retro appeal, industrial aesthetic, and forgiving nature that encourages a kind of playful imperfection.

Chalking works on many dark materials and surfaces both natural and artificial, from chipped-shale coasters to blackboard-painted wall calenders.

Then there are the tried-and-true educational associations, making white-on-black writing a natural fit for offbeat items like a tutorial-oriented ping-pong table or a round-yet-writable desktop globe.

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Other applications, like chalkboard helmets and skateboards, are a bit tougher to justify on visual or functional grounds – seems like rain would wipe away any useful benefits or expressive additions rather rapidly.