Friday, November 23, 2007

Children of the Atomic Age

This week's Craft-Scan Friday is the bedroom of the kids of a 1950s rocket scientist -- no Beatles or football or Vietnam here. We're looking to the skies and the future!

The english-mangling caption reads:

In-orbit room for boy has atomic motifs on bedspread, rug with radiant northern lights, sleek tables. String circle, the pillows symbolize sun, moon, and earth. Plane, balloon, show the progress of flight. Setting is by Irma Bolley.

Irma Bolley, it appears, affected a generation with her string art, so it's no surprise she reproduced, as funky string art, something Dave Bowman saw in his descent into spaciness. While she did her best to interpret what a sky-obsessed kid would like, it's obviously what a kid would get if his grandma designed his bedroom using a handful of random space terms pulled from a hat. It even goes so far as to assume some important facts. For example, from the diorama, we can assume that kids who idolize astronauts drink Coca-Cola, eat uncut raw tomatoes, and snack on Shake-n-Bake pork chops. They enjoy the letter M, globes, chess, and Montgolfier. They will appreciate the opportunity to tell their friends that their afghan is decorated with an atomic diagram of beryllium. A truly geeky kid can understand the planetary symbolism depicted on the pillows, and will snort loudly while mocking less-nerdy kids who don't get it. Personally, I think the shag rug might actually be rather enjoyable, lying on my stomach with my nose an inch from that 12" black-and-white TV, even though the 'northern lights' symbolism is invisible even to my tolerant eye.

The amount of media in the room is a nice forward-looking touch, though. Not only is the space-faring child a TV watcher, they're a radio-listener and a record-player-player. Bolley also took the time to make rudimentally-accurate wooden model of the X-15, complete with external fuel tanks, to hang in the room. I admit, without a note on another page I probably wouldn't have recognized it as a real plane, but in comparison they did an adequate job of representing it. The abacus on the wall is nicely geeky, but it was probably as foreign to a kid of the 60s as a slide rule is to a kid today; although, I'd wager that once this kid reached his teenage years, having a counting/adding machine mounted above his couch-cum-bed would lead to knowing looks and innuendo. Having that, his friends might even overlook the creepy string art.

(source: McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Fall-Winter 1968-69)

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