Saturday, June 8, 2013

Playing with Crayons

I grew up with three pesky younger brothers. 

I use them as the excuse that I wasn't big on playing with dolls, at least not in the traditional "play marriage and have babies" mimic.  The brothers liked to hide the few pretend friends I had: a beat up teddy bear, the old rag doll of my Grandma's and June, the one baby doll I got for my birthday and loved because she was so snuggly. 

Strangely, they rarely messed with my Tubsy doll.  :)

My goodness, this is a creepy looking doll!
Mostly, I played with my crayons.

But not to color with.  I did color, but only when someone was watching me.  I'd sit at the dining room table and make up stories in my head, in which the crayons were the characters color-coded and sized for gender.  I don't remember the specifics now, but I think my heroine was a lovely shade of magenta.  Or purply-red.  I had families of crayons.  Each crayon had an identity and a personality and a history.  If, on the rare occasions a crayon broke, I took the loss personally, as if it were a death.

My goodness, the stories I made up!  (I wish I'd written them down!)


Mostly, I'd make up stories in my head about the wild west and wagon trains and Indians.  I was fascinated with Native American culture and pioneers that traveled against all odds across a country I could barely imagine.  I'm sure I was heavily influenced by the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  Oh, the adventures she had.  I was also fascinated with the mountains.  And rivers.  With the wild.  And falling in love with an Indian.  (Yes.  I did grow up to do just this.)  And wearing buckskin.

On Sundays, I spent a lot of long afternoons sitting at that table.  I hated mashed potatoes but could never figure out a way to get rid of them like I could peas  (burying them in the sugar bowl and/or smashing them under my plate).  So the cold potatoes kept me company, as I traveled all over the wild west in my head.  And the pesky brothers didn't bother me, 'cause coloring was boring.  :)  How could I sit there for so long, they wondered. 

crayola.com
I think I probably absorbed some Crayola color theory as I played.  I'd examine shades and line up colors - complimenting colors, opposing colors, warm, cool.  I had combinations I liked, which became favorite characters in my stories.  And the colors that I didn't like?  Well, of course they were the villains.  White.  Tan.  Ocher.  Villains, all.  Sometimes they just got thrown into my tin and neglected.  Or broken, if I had to make a sacrifice (which if I remember right, in my stories was always the mean white guy that was guiding the wagon train). 

I still play with my seed bead tubes this way.  Well, maybe not consciously, because that childhood imagination has been somewhat subdued.  But I find I match up colors and allow the tubes to "talk" to each other, when I'm figuring out the story of the bead embroidery.

I'm glad the crayon kid still exists.  But, please, don't tell my Mom, but under the dining room table... well, it's an excellent spot for shaping/sizing crayons when I need to whittle to meet the needs of the story.

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