Etch A Sketch Day
annually on July 12th (since 2016)
Spin Master in 2016
Etch a Sketch Day marks the anniversary of the date the first Etch a Sketch was sold in 1960. Although the day had been observed unofficially for a number of years, it became more official in July 2016, following Spin Master's acquisition of the Etch a Sketch in February of that year. On the 2016 observance, Spin Master set the Guinness World Record for Most People Drawing on an Etch a Sketch Globally at the Same Time when 440 of their employees around the world drew sets of stairs.
Spin Master continued creating events for Etch a Sketch Day in the following years. They encouraged fans to upload videos of themselves shaking an Etch a Sketch along with the hashtag #ShakeYourEtch. They had Christoph Brown, one of the world's foremost Etch a Sketchers, showcase his work in Times Square. Spin Master unveiled two new Etch a Sketches on the day: Etch a Sketch Freestyle and Etch a Sketch Joystick. They also released the app Etch A Sketch IT!
In the 1950s, Andre Cassagnes, an electrician in France, was installing a light fixture in a factory that made Lincrusta, an embossed wall covering made with aluminum powder. Some of the aluminum powder got on the light-switch plate, and he noticed that when he made pencil marks on the protective decal, they were visible on the opposite side. An electrostatic charge was holding the aluminum powder particles to the decal, and they were being displaced by the pencil. Afterward, Cassagnes was inspired to create a drawing toy with aluminum powder and a plotter.
First called the "Télécran," and then "L'Écran Magique" (Magic Screen), the red-framed Etch a Sketch has a flat plastic screen covered inside with aluminum powder, as well as tiny beads to prevent clumping. It has a stylus on a pulley system that is connected to horizontal and vertical metal rods. The rods are attached to two knobs that drag the stylus through the powder when turned, making lines by displacing the aluminum powder on the back of the screen. These knobs are on the lower corners of the Etch a Sketch; the left knob moves the stylus horizontally, while the right knob moves it vertically. When the Etch a Sketch is shaken, the aluminum powder re-coats the screen and erases the markings.
Cassagnes's original Etch a Sketch had a glass screen and one knob, like a joystick, instead of two knobs. He won a French invention competition, but since he didn't have the cash to patent his invention, he joined up with an investor, Paul Chaze. Arthur Granjean, Chaze's accountant, helped them get Etch a Sketch patents in France and America. The Etch a Sketch was showcased at the 1959 Nuremberg International Toy Fair, but toy companies didn't want to pay for its rights. The Ohio Art Company eventually acquired it, and they gave it the name Etch a Sketch.
The Ohio Art Company debuted the Etch a Sketch on July 12, 1960, for $2.99. It was one of the first toys to be advertised on television and sold 600,000 units in its first year. Different versions have been created over the years, like the Etch a Sketch Animator, Etch a Sketch Animator 2000, Etch a Sketch Color, Etch a Sketch ETO, Etch a Sketch Joystick, and Etch a Sketch Freestyle. In 1998, the Etch a Sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Today we celebrate it with Etch a Sketch Day!
How to Observe Etch A Sketch Day
A few ways you could mark the day include:
- Take out your Etch a Sketch—or buy a new one—and practice drawing on it.
- Check if Spin Master has anything special organized for the day.
- Get yourself an Etch a Sketch Freestyle or another variation of the Etch a Sketch.
- Post of video of yourself shaking an Etch a Sketch along with the hashtag #ShakeYourEtch.
- Try an Etch a Sketch app like Etch a Sketch IT!, Etch-Your-Sketch, Etchpad, or Etch-Your-Sketch.
- Check out some Etch a Sketch art. Nicole Falzone, George Vlosich, and Christoph Brown are three prominent Etch a Sketch artists you could view the art of.