Crayons are a gateway drug.
So said Herb Williams, Alabama artist and sculptor. I must agree. I love crayons. I have loved crayons since I was about 3 and drew my Very Significant Pictures on the wallpaper in the home I remember.
Yes. Like that. Only imagine mid-century wallpaper. Hmmm...I could have used this guy.
I am always a sucker for color. (Full disclosure: sometimes I buy multiples of things I only need one of because I love the colors too much to make a decision. I remember when I went off to college, I took with me at least 8 towel sets, because I loved all the colors. Who needs that many towels in dorm life?) For color lovers, crayons are a natural. Growing up, the box of 32 was the premium purchase. You had made it with the box of 32. Then, like the iPhone saga we are living, 32 wasn't enough. In 1958, the box of 64 was on the market. Oh jeez. Aren't they going to run out of colors, I thought, secretly excited, however - secretly because I was getting too old for crayons, at least in public. One must retain one's dignity, after all.
This article in a recent Seattle Times got me thinking again about color and crayons. Local artists and writers were asked to describe our recent smoky skies in crayons. I pulled out my loved Collectors Tin of crayons and went to it, finding those colors, quite different as you can imagine from how they appear in newsprint.
I proudly own This Collectors Colors Limited Edition Tin with over 100 colors and a special box of 8 retired colors. (I know they are keeping something from us, though, because I also know that the color "Flesh" was retired somewhere along the line, but they're not talking about it. They figured out somewhere along the line that "flesh" has many shades. Good for them.) Anyhoo, because I have so many other things I should be doing but I wanted to do this instead, I also sorted them into color groups, quite an inexact science in the world of purples that look like pinks and reds that are quite orange. It's always fun to sort things when you have time to do it leisurely. I concentrated on the "fire" colors of the article and spent little time with the cools. Goody, something to do another time.
A few other ramblings:
These are the crayons I probably drew with. I found this bit of information in a MASSIVE Crayon Collection website by Ed Welter, who, through his years of collecting crayons, boxes, and history of all crayons, logged 1629 different crayon colors. He co-authored the Wikipedia article on crayon history and admits there are crayon mysteries he was never able to solve despite "painstaking investigations." He has retired, but leaves his years of work behind (crayon collecting.com). It's worth a peek if you have any interest in crayons at all. (And, if you don't...do I want to know you? Wink)
When I taught in the upper elementary grades, I noticed that more and more that kids don't use crayons unless directed to. They would rather use markers. I kept pushing crayons and always had a big ole box of extras, but it was a hard sell. Also, I worked hard to teach them how to use crayons to get the best results. That is, for crying' out loud, PRESS on the crayon! Make heavy marks! Break that virgin crayon, who cares! (Well, maybe I didn't use that particular adjective. Open up a 5th grade can of worms there, bud.) Tear off the wrapper! Use it as a tool, not a precious commodity with a perfect point. And, please! none of this Gramma stroking where one hardly touches crayon to paper like you have no muscle! Ah...any former students would recognize that little speech.
I like to write little poems. One of my favorite poems was about crayons. I'm including it in the upcoming 2018 Toys Calendar. That's a plug, in case you didn't recognize it. More on that soon.
One of my travel wishes is to see the Crayola factory in Easton, PA in action. I could easily team that visit up with a visit to Hershey's in PA also...don't you think?
I"m wondering if anyone uses crayons - not markers, paint, or colored pencils - to color in those thousands of adult coloring pages ubiquitous today. I suppose you would need that WHOA! nifty crayon sharpener that comes in the box of 64 crayons!
And, hey! talk about timing! Sept. 14 is the date a new blue color will be introduced. Wonder what its name will be? I did NOT see a B'Dazzled Blue mentioned in the article (last sentence)...that could be a great name for the Seattle summer skies when it is NOT a wildfire sky. We shall see.
This new book takes making art with crayon into some interesting places. It has some good ideas for adult, professional crayon work. All photos below are from the book and are by Lorraine Bell except where noted.