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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I want that Wednesdays #4

Today I decided to feature two crafty items for which I have long held a torch.

Such a Cut-up
I cut a lot of paper. Not in clever, nifty shapes. Not into amazing pop-ups or silhouettes. Nope. I cut a lot of rectangles.

My first real foray into designing cards or stationery was when my husband and I designed and made the invitations for our wedding. All 100+ of them. And, of course, because I'm me, it was an elaborate affair of paper on paper, of odd shaped cuts requiring surgical precision, of nightmarish color matching (try matching colors onto cream stock using a solid ink printer--try it!). But we (I) got exactly what we (I) wanted. Although I do look back with some dismay on the font I chose (Lithos) and the way the full justification added some imperfect, wonky spaces between words, I am still proud as hell of my first stabs at digital illustration (hooray for the perfect simplicity of cherry blossoms) and my custom maps. And the color palette holds up four years later, too, I think.

I digress.

Anyhoo. That was only the first of many, many long nights of cutting, of obsessing over slivers of an inch.

I have two different tools for cutting straight lines from paper: a standard guillotine arm trimmer (with two missing pads on the bottom--not nice for keeping things steady), and the little thingie that came with my Xyron 900 laminating machine (which is one of the world's greatest tools/toys.) I can only cut one sheet at a time with either of these and with varying degrees of accuracy. This does not suit me.

See, I am a very messy (not dirty--just messy) person, but I crave order and precision. Making perfect cuts is my version of coloring in the lines. When I'm in the groove, it's soothing to see order spring up out of the chaos that is my creative process. When I'm not, every missed milimeter feels like a symptom of the disarray that threatens to consume me at any minute.

So this heavy duty ream cutter is my idea of a good time. Perfect, precision cuts. In, like, MORE THAN ONE PIECE OF PAPER PER MINUTE. Insane.

I want that.

They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To
It was the Christmas of either 1982 or 1983. That Christmas was a craft bonanza. I remember paintable suncatchers; collage assortments of pipe cleaners and pom-poms and dyed pasta; and awesome marker sets that smelled like blueberries and limes or somesuch. But without a doubt, the most memorable gift of that year (and nearly any other year) was the Fisher-Price weaving loom my parents gave me.

This was no rinky dink potholder loom (not that I don't enjoy those). No, this was a real, full-fledged loom. It took a multi-page manual to describe its proper use and no small amount of patience (as measured against the typical amount of patience possessed by a seven-year-old) to prepare the warp yarn. It had two shuttles (two colors of weft--shut up!), and a hand crank that made the weaving part pretty easy. It was packaged with a skein of hideous, scratchy blue acrylic yarn, but you could use it with any worsted-weight yarn, of which my grandmother had a plentiful, if cigarette-tinged, supply.

The only project I remember ever making to completion on the loom was a clutch-style pocketbook featuring the complimentary blue yarn, but I do also distinctly remember weaving with some of my grandmother's substantially more hideous variegated brown yarn (Shout out to the Naval commissary!).

I held on to the loom for years before my mother finally made me give it up. The only picture I could find of one is from a now-expired ebay listing, where the damned thing went for $4.99. Unbelievable--it was one of the best-made, most educational and entertaining toys ever. Given my outsized affection for this thing, I guess it's not surprising that I had grossly misremembered its size: in my memory the loom was huge--two or three feet long. Not so much. According to the listing, it is acutally 10 inches. I can only believe that means 10" across and more like 18" deep, but still, it's much smaller than in my memory.

But it's not so much the specific toy that I want (though, you know, for $4.99, I will definitely take one off your hands!). What I really hope is to be able to provide for my child the same joy and wonderment from toys that teach and inspire him--whatever his passions may be. Yeah, I want that.


Karen said...

I can't believe I have never heard of that FP loom. I would've been all over that! My favorite craft-related Christmas present as a kid was either Shrinky Dinks or those hooked rugs we used to do in the 80s. There must be a way to bring those back in a cool, updated way....

Hi, I'm Cameron Blazer. said...

I really do wish they'd bring the FP loom back. I (I mean, my son) would totally use it. To me it's like the gocco of my childhood. This incredibly clever, simple toy/tool that doesn't catch on well enough to survive and yet attracts a devout band of ardent fans.

Also? I still want a gocco.