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By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
It seems odd to talk about the “nice things” that have come out of the coronavirus crisis — how could something so bad have any good? — but it’s crucial to look on the bright side to keep our spirits up. With families holed up at home trying to stay in place and “flatten the curve” to slow the spread of the contagion, people are reverting to the basics for activities and entertainment. For many people this means board games, movies and TV shows, at-home science experiments, and art projects. With outside activities largely limited to walks around the neighborhood, it’s nice to see communities promoting “chalk your walk” — leaving little surprises for passersby to find.
The idea is simple: draw something on your sidewalk to bring a smile to your neighbors. It can be as easy as an encouraging message (such as “Smile!” or “Things WILL get better!”) or as elaborate as a work of art. It can also be a game: our neighbors drew a hopscotch board! All you need to chalk your walk is sidewalk chalk — that’s it! If you’ll be making designs that require an outline or straight lines (such as a mosaic), you also will need painter’s tape or a good masking tape. For themed designs, you also can buy sidewalk chalk stencils.
My son and I decided to do a chalk your walk project yesterday to spend some time outdoors, do something artsy (to count as art for today’s schooling), and leave something nice for neighbors to see. “How ambitious do you want to be?” I asked my son. “Very,” he declared, so I suggested we decorate our whole driveway.
Taking the idea of a mosaic (something I’d seen online in a smaller format), we randomly places strips of tape on the ground. I was all out of the blue painter’s tape so I had to go with masking tape, which stuck to the gravel driveway surprisingly well. (Maybe it helps that we had the driveway completely redone last week!) We crisscrossed long strips of tape from various angles (afterward walking over them to help them stick), then added smaller strips to create smaller polygons, trapezoids, and other shapes. This was the result:
As a bonus, because we did this in the late afternoon, we soon got to see our artwork in another light, quite literally. As the sun set, the colors of our mosaic seemed to take on another hue. I still can’t decide which version I like best.
We received compliments from several neighbors, including one who shouted to us from a few houses over that she’d stepped out to take a look when someone said she had to see it. Another told me it “looked like stained glass window when the sun was shining on it as I came down the little hill.” But my favorite comment may be from a little girl who said “It’s finished!” with delightful tone. Because my son and I had our back to the street mostly, we didn’t realize she had ridden past us on her bike watching the progress.
Tips to chalk your walk:
- Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated: even a simple, cheerful greeting will do.
- You will need more chalk (and tape) than you think: I don’t know how much tape we used, but for our average-sized driveway, we used about 22 full pieces of the thick sidewalk chalk sticks and came dangerously close to running out.
- For the big pieces of a mosaic, using the chalk horizontally instead of drawing with the pointed end will make things go faster.
- If you’re going to make a project as big as the one we did, you’ll want to wear gloves both to keep dust down and to provide some cushioning for your hands — alternatively, you can use a sidewalk chalk holder .
- Don’t worry about cars: we actually did a test drive (literally!) over the driveway and the design remained intact. Rain, of course, will eventually wash this away. We, of course, will always have pictures to remember this.