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How do you keep it from erasing?

This is the most common question I get about my Etch-a-Sketch art: how do I keep it from erasing? What happens if I shake it? I do address it briefly in my FAQ but my technique has changed since I wrote that. I was tipped off by Etcha, a fellow Etch-a-Sketcher, that Ohio Arts will sell unassembled Etch-a-Sketches, which makes it easier to eliminate all the excess powder and preserves the Etch-a-Sketch. (I've also been told, after I had ordered a case, that they no longer do this, so I may have only a limited number of pieces I can do using this technique.)

Here's a photo tour of my process.

081108-process-01.jpg The first step is to coat the glass with the aluminum powder. This is the messiest part, of course, but I want to be sure to have enough powder to completely coat the glass. I do this over my "working" Etch-a-Sketch so that most of the excess goes into the Etch-a-Sketch and not all over the workspace.

After the glass is sufficiently coated, I fit the red frame on and put knobs on, and do my drawing as usual.

081108-process-02.jpgHere you can see the completed drawing to the left. I'm preparing the clean Etch-a-Sketch on the right. It's not pictured, but I remove the knobs and frame from the completed drawing.

081108-process-03.jpg After removing the knobs and outer red frame, there's a brown inner frame that holds the glass. I remove this and pull out the stylus mechanism and strings so that turning the knobs won't draw any more lines. The brown frame is then replaced. I take the glass (with the completed drawing) from the working Etch-a-Sketch. As you can see from the last photo, the working Etch-a-Sketch is entirely coated in powder and the brown inner frame appears silver.

081108-process-04.jpgI carefully transfer the glass to the clean Etch-a-Sketch and set it in place, and then clean the outside of the glass of any stray powder.

081108-process-05.jpg I replace the clear plastic protective sheet over the glass. Then I superglue the red frame on, and then the knobs. After clamping the entire assembly together to allow the glue to dry, the Etch-a-Sketch is a permanent piece of art. (I also screw in some rings for picture wire on the back for hanging.) Voila! An Etch-a-Sketch drawing you can shake without fear of erasure.

Thanks to Ian Thompson for taking these photos during PULSE 2008.

November 13, 2008


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