June 7, 2010
The theme for one of my photo a week Flickr groups last week was “Toy, Game, or Childhood Pastime”. A lot of people in the group who have children took pictures of them to illustrate the theme, but many of us took the opportunity to revisit our own childhoods. I only had to look in two boxes in the basement to find one of my favorite toys from my youth, something I liked so well I played with it long after many kids would have lost interest (or lost most of the pieces). It’s a set of hard plastic grids into which one snaps softer plastic pieces in a variety of shapesâ€”sort of like a low-tech version of Tetrisâ€”to make designs. I don’t recall exactly when or where I got the set (I want to say one of my mom’s friends was involved, like either the friend gave to me or my mom bought it from her to give to me), or whether I ever had a proper box for it (the little pieces now live in a repurposed margarine tub). I am pretty sure it was something I played with before my parents got divorced, so that means late 1960s. I did remember that it was made by Tupperware, which meant I was able to Google “Tupperware grid toy” and immediately find out this system is called SnaPicsâ€”I don’t think I ever knew that. Evidently there were a bunch of different sets available, each with a guide to making a particular picture or pictures, like painting by number but with plastic tiles. I don’t remember that part; I always just made up my own designs. One favorite thing to do was floor plans for houses; I’d use the skinny pieces to lay out my rooms, then make furniture with the other shapes.
When I found the set, one of the grids was completely covered in a very quilt-like design. I don’t remember when I did this; obviously I worked hard on it and wanted to save it, and even back then I was evidently already heading in the direction of being a quilter. I see things I’d change if I reworked this, but there’s a lot I like about it, such as the way the grays in the border balance the gray center block and how white appears only in alternating blocks. I didn’t have quite as good a grasp of value (lights and darks) when I did this design as I do now, but I can see I was playing with the idea of it. Maybe now that I’ve taken a picture of it (something that probably wouldn’t have been possible when I did it originallyâ€”I didn’t get a camera with a macro function until I was married) I will rework it. Though of course now I have real quilts to play with: I spent part of the weekend quilting a twin sized quilt the ladies at work are making for a coworker’s son; if the guy I’m making the anniversary quilt for ever gets the pictures to me I’ll start on that, and of course I have a whole list of other projects I want to get to. I am sure I am not going to be one of the people who retires and doesn’t know what to do with themselves.