It's Arts and Crafts Day!

A look back at the activities that kept us briefly occupied in the 1990's.
September 30, 2007
Believe it or not, the 1990's were, for most kids, not entire spent in front of a TV or computer. There were plenty of non-electronic diversions for us, although most of them were somehow labeled as "extreme" or colored neon pink or green.
When I was a kid, my mother spent a lot of time in the craft store. So, as a result, my brother and I spent a lot of time in the craft store perusing the one or two aisles dedicated to "kid crafts". We would usually end up getting at least one kit, take it home, and use it for the rest of that day. The kit would then be buried under piles of who-knows-what until it was forgotten about. I'm sure that in millions of homes across America, these craft kits-or some finished products thereof-still exist.

First up on our list: Perler Beads. Don't remember what these are just by hearing the name? Well...

How about now? Looking back, Perler beads have to be the most useless craft on the face of the earth. You would spend hours placing these tiny beads (or, if you were lucky, you would have the jumbo version) on plastic boards. Some were square, some were shaped like animals, some were shaped like people. Then, you would carefully carry your creations in the palm of your hand to your mother or father, who would begrudingly iron the beads under a sheet of wax paper, fusing them together. Then, they would carefully peel the fused beads off of the board, and you had...a dinosaur made out of beads. Woo-hoo. Then it was back to the board to make something else. And that dino you spent hours creating? He gets thrown into a box and eventually breaks in half.

Next on the list: Potholder Looms!

Is there any child who hasn't been forced to make a multi-colored potholder out of loops of fabric, sitting for what seemed like forever weaving them under and over and under and over...until you finally filled up that plastic square? Here's a better question. Is there any child who actually knows how to turn that square of loops into a finished potholder? Cause I sure don't! And none of the adults who forced me to make these seemed to know either. I have vivid memories of weaving these, but I never once brought home a finished potholder.
Number three is the holy grail of coloring tools:

Yup, you know them. You know them well. In my elementary school, the only teacher who used these on a regular basis was our music teacher. It was not at all uncommon to see classes of children walking out of the music room with dots of color on their noses. And, as if the awesome scents and colors wasn't enought, the markers could stack together end to end, making for some amazing marker swordfights.

And, last but not least....

Klutz books. From juggling to painting rocks, if there was some random craft or skill you wanted to do you could probably learn how to do it from a klutz book. And Klutz books, unlike other craft books, gave you all the supplies you needed. The nail art book, for instance, gave you bottles of child-safe fake nail polish that peeled off, or washed off in soap and water. The window-art book gave you special paint to make window decals. The pipe cleaner-art book gave you, well, pipe cleaners, and the list goes on. The worst thing about Klutz books? Well, eventually those supplies ran out. And you could never find that child-safe nail polish again.

You know what the best thing about all of these is? Unlike TV shows, movies, and music, these crafts will probably never die. They are still redily available in craft stores everywhere, just waiting for bored children to snatch them up while their moms shop for fabric.
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