Friday, June 20, 2008

Classic art toys

Garden visitors
graphite 11 x 14
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I don't know of any saved record of my drawings or paintings as a child. I think that was before the trend arrived for parents to save every gum wrapper and scribble that a child produces from cradle to high school and beyond.

I was asked when I started to draw and the question made me think about some of my earliest memories of drawing. Not structured academic drawing, but simply drawing or creating for pleasure. I remember from the age of 5 or so always colouring or creating something and that stayed with me as time passed. When other kids were outside playing, I would be the one inside creating and decorating theatres out of shoe boxes with elaborate sets, characters and backdrops.

There were also a variety of toys that I had which fed my need to create. These may bring back memories for some or be completely new to others.

When children's Give A Show projectors were the rage in the 1960s, I had one. Not content with the slides that came with it, I scrounged pieces of hard cellophane from packaging, created cardboard slides and drew my own stories on the clear surface. I wish now that I could see some of those early efforts at around age 10.

Etch A Sketch. Remember those? Yes I had one and used it til it wore out. Here's an online version for those who want to try their hand at producing something. Was this the early version of the graphics tablet?

Visit Etched in Time to see George Vlosich III's amazing Etch a Sketch art.

You can still buy Etch A Sketch toys.

Spirographs came into existence in the late 1960s and they fed right into the psychedelic patterning of the 60s. I recall making endless patterns in colour or black and white with piles of patterns stacked up in my bedroom or posted to the walls.

If you want to create patterns, or treat a child in your life the Spirograph is still being produced. Check out Ebay for lots of spirographs for sale.

Obviously, toys that bring out creative skills tend to become classics and are used by generations of families and have appeal to both old and young. With the tendency for the thinking to be taken out of life these days and the McDonald's 'instant' gratification needs, we often overlook basic, simple toys that help minds develop ideas and explore possibilities.


Teresa Mallen said...

Jeanette, what a hoot - I had all three! I bow down to you, you great creative thinker...I would have never thought to make my own cellophane story strip! Wow. I wasn't too hot with Etch A Sketch but I did love my Spirograph set! Thanks for the memories.

Jennifer Rose said...

I had an Etch-a-Sketch but wasn't very good with it, I got really bored when I couldn't make the little knobs do what I wanted. Loved using a Spirograph, I always ended up with marks from the pens I was using all over my hands, but it was fun. My mother kept a lot of junk from when I was younger. No idea if she has any of it now, but she did use to have all the really old pictures of horses I use to draw. At the time I thought they were such great drawings, last time I saw them I had to guess at what I was trying to draw lol A car with 5 legs?? Aliens from Mars? :P

Jeanette said...

I had great fun tracking these down Teresa and remembering them. I want another Spirograph! I don't think anyone was ever very good at producing masterpieces with etch a sketch but it was fun to use them.

Classics like Spirograph never go completely out Jennifer and are always fascinating to use.

My mother has some of my original art from when I stared seriously doing it but nothing before that.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh Jeanette, you've cleared away the cobwebs! Never had the Give-a-Show, loved my Etch-a-Sketch, and my sister and I wore our Spirograph out! (I had forgotten about Spiropgraph!)

Being the 4th of 4 kids, not a lot of my early kid drawings and things were saved.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow this is a walk back in time for sure, I had Etch-a-Sketch which was fun, and also the Spirograph which I absolutely adored....great for creating Mandalas and the such.

Jo Castillo said...

I was grown but my kids had Etch-a-Sketch and the Spirograph set. I spent a lot of happy time playing with them, too. Thanks for the memories.

Laurel Neustadter said...

This post made me smile! I have my childhood spirograph set in my closet ... my parents found it and brought it to me last year. I also made sets out of shoe boxes as a child ... I made doll houses out of them. I didn't like playing with dolls ... I just liked creating the houses. Great post!

mazalart said...

We spent days and weeks at it - even my anti-art anti-aesthetic but very mathematical brother. There I found the Spirograph, in my old bedroom, when I went across the oceans for a visit with my kids. Alas, their coordination was not yet up to it, but they enjoyed watching me - briefly. Then my dad moved, and the Spirograph went to that final resting place of historical artifacts.