As we end our “Les Petites Choses” Doodlewash Adventure this month, I thought it fitting to include an Etch A Sketch. Not only is it a fun tool for doodling, but it was also created by a French inventor named André Cassagnes. His toy was first unveiled in 1959 at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany. Cassagnes originally called his invention L’Ecran Magique, which translates to “the Magic Screen.”
This was probably one of my favorite toys as a kid and it really did feel like magic. Using just two little white knobs you could make a stroke appear on the screen and doodle a masterpiece. Well, there are people out there who can make those, but I just settled for anything that resembled the thing I had in my head. One knob moved the line vertically and the other horizontally. If you moved them simultaneously you could get it to make curved lines. When you were ready to start again, shaking it erased everything and gave you a fresh blank screen.
I never mastered this toy and my doodles were not very good at all. But it was so much fun to try to get the line to go where I wanted that I didn’t care. I feel the same about doodlewashing. It’s just about trying to get lines to go in the right direction so they make what I see, or a rough equivalent. Today, instead of white knobs, I use my trusty fountain pen and some watercolor, but the concept is the same. The inability to shake my sketchbook in frustration until the page goes blank is probably a blessing in disguise.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. I wasn’t sure where this one was heading at the beginning, but it’s been fun to explore so many little things from the last century that made me smile. I hope many of them have made you smile as well. And I also hope you’ll join me for another ride in February as we start a new Doodlewash Adventure tomorrow!
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Pyrrol Red, Quinacridone Gold, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal
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