Monday, November 14, 2011

Etch A Sketch Art

Etch A Sketch is the registered trademark for the mechanical drawing toy manufactured by the Ohio Art Company. Here's an example of an Etch A Sketch used in the movie Toy Story when Woody went missing. 

The Etch A Sketch has a thick, flat gray screen in a red, plastic frame. There are two knobs on the front of the frame in each corner. In order to use the Etch A Sketch's stylus, you have to turn the knobs, which displaces the aluminum powder on the back of the screen, leaving a solid line. The left knob controls the stylus horizontally, while the right one moves it vertically. 

The knobs create lineographic images, which is the art of drawing without lifting the pen. The Arms of the Dauphin of France, created by Jean de Beaugrand in 1604, is an example of the beauty of this technique. 

The Etch A Sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 1998. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Etch A Sketch to its Century of Toys List, a roll call commemorating the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century. 

One of the most common questions regarding the Etch A Sketch is: How do you erase a picture you've drawn? 

Easy! The Etch a Sketch works like a simplified version of  a plotter (a printing device for printing vector graphics). The inside surface of the glass is coated with aluminum powder, which is then scraped off by a moveable stylus, leaving a dark line on the light gray screen. To erase the picture, simply hold the toy upside down and shake it. Voilá! When you shake the Etch A Sketch upside down, the polystyrene beads redistribute, smoothing out and recoating the inside surface of the screen with aluminum powder. Now, you can draw a new masterpiece on your blank Etch A Sketch Canvas! 

The Etch A Sketch was invented in the late 1950s by André Cassagne. Originally called "L'Ecran Magique" (the Magic Screen). Cassagne took his toy to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany in 1959. 

Even though the Ohio Art Company initially rejected the toy, they later decided to take a chance on it and introduced it in the United States during the 1960s holiday season under the name Etch A Sketch. The toy was a sensation and quickly became the most popular drawing toy in the business. 

Here's some of the top Etch A Sketch designs floating around the Internet: 

With electronic devices taking over the toy market, a number of kids today have never heard of the Etch A Sketch. However, if you're a bit nostalgic for this bygone era, you can always dress up your iPhone or iPad with an Etch A Sketch case. 


cricketmuse said...

Great post. I'm working on a tribute on the Etch-a-Sketch and will mention your excellent blog.

Soph Laugh said...

Hi Cricketmuse!

Thank you for visiting my blog and for your compliment. I look forward to your tribute...

Sophy :D