Toy With Potential

A friend gave me an gift–a toy with potential. These word cards are made by Maruman, and have the wonderful name Mnemosyne–the Greek goddess of memory. The cards are sturdy paper (or light card stock) and blank. They measure about 4 inches long by 2 inches tall. There are 100 of them, fastened with a binder ring.

Their original use was for Japanese and Chinese language students to create their own  flash cards. Learning a language of symbols isn’t easy, as it requires memorization of hundreds of root words and building symbols.

What can I do with these wonderful cards? I’ve had some thoughts; they would make interesting tags for Art Abandonment. I could use them to catch my favorite quotes and short poems and have them all in one place.

But I’d like to add color. And making a collage on each one seems too small, even for me, who likes to work small.

Any suggestions? What would you do with these very interesting pages?
-Quinn McDonald is an art journaler and a certified creativity coach, who is running short on inventive ideas today.


22 thoughts on “Toy With Potential

  1. I think I would make up my own words, and then draw a picture to illustrate the word. Yesterday, I was answering questions on (it’s a hobby), and one person asked, “Did McGrlonder invent the Chlopler?” To which I answered, “No, he invented the Helichlopler.” Ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out what a Chlopler, and its derivative, the Helichlopler, look like. And when I do, I plan to draw them. I have a well-developed nonsense muscle, which comes of being the offspring of a similarly-built father….

  2. I wonder how thick the cardstock is. I would want to take them out and lay them side by side, maybe thin magnets on the back and stick them on the frig. Than put one big project on them. And when I was done, take them apart and put them back in the book. You could number them so it would be easier to put them back together again if you wanted to. I have grandkids that I’m always looking for unique projects for. This would be a “community” project in our house, each of us adding something to the whole. It would take a while to complete too which would be great for us as we passed it each day. it might be the addition of a drawing or it could be a word or phrase that was important to us that day or week or an experience. It would be a compact “memory” or “journal” collage in the end,

  3. “One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them…” 😉 What a wonderful gift, with so much potential! I, first of all, agree with Paula—keep them together—part of their uniqueness is how they are bound with the ring. And, as they are “Word Cards”, I would feel like they are waiting for words…I would want to give them haiku and tiny decorations and color that complimented each little poem. One of my favorite sites is tinywords…

  4. I like your idea of a quote on each page. I would probably put some color on all of them first. But I’m sure I could think of something fun and inspiring to use them for. Now I want some for myself. 🙂

  5. Quinn,

    Your friend must be delightful. What a wonderful gift. Because I think a trip to a stationery store is much like visiting the North Pole in December, your little toy rings my enchantment meter.

    The thing I would have trouble getting past is simply holding the stack and allowing the 100 pages to press against my fingers in undulating waves and ripples. Perhaps I would turn them into a calming tool and slowly fill the pages with brief accounts of things, events and people which or who have given me diversion, entertainment or contentment on any given day.

    • Short anecdotes would be good for inspiration later. I like that idea. I could flip the book open at random and have a nice uplifting moment. I also thought of making a flip book. Because the books are small, they are well suited to simple stop-motion animation and then a flip book.

  6. One of the best things about the industry I work in is working side-by-side with people from Europe, India, China, Japan, etc. An engineer from China had young children who were learning both Chinese at home and English at home and in school; the youngest was in Kindergarten. She sometimes mentioned them, and how they were learning over 200 characters *per week*. I think they were, in part, using small slips of paper, but probably not on card stock.

    By the way the characters are not completely independent symbols; they’re related in many ways and in many cases have a sort of abstract resemblance to what they represent. At least from casual exposure, Chinese seemed easier to learn to read than to speak; I could recognize a few characters and see some of the similarities, but I would have to learn how to hear lots of subtleties.

    • I took Chinese for two years, and it was hard work. I filled pages and pages with the symbols and could see connections. Mostly it was memory work. Occasionally the instructor would show the story of words, drawing the old pictograms and then updating it. But rarely. She was a Chinese instructor at a Chinese cultural center and very focused. All I remember now is how to say, “There is a fish in my bookbag” which is not a phrase I would use often.

  7. I was thinking that if the card stock was suitable you could barely fasten them to a larger page and make monsoon papers out of them a few at a time, or punch them with various patterns and weave flat ribbon through for little borders around the quotes.

    • I’m seeing good possibilities here. Monsoon papers take a beating in production. I could see if the paper is sturdy enough, but I love the idea of sewing or weaving–maybe even sewing them together!

  8. Perhaps make a swatch or sample book – you could do it by color and on each card do one color and have a little patch of your different colored pencil, watercolor, markers, acrylics, ink, etc., whatever you have in that color… red, blue, yellow, green, etc. Then you could use it to compare the media and/or use it like those paint chip sample books to choose color scheme/combo when creating future projects.

    Or, you could use colored pencils or markers or inks to write your favorite quotes or poems and you’d have a rainbow of quotes/poems.

    You could use them to do a quick sketch a day and then color them in.
    Or a word a day with a different color per day.
    Perhaps some calligraphy or lettering practice with different colored inks per page?
    A whole page of each letter done in different fonts/lettering styles and colors.
    A doodle or shape and then repeat it with different media/colors.

    Clip swatches of colors or faces or letter styles/ words from magazines and make little collages on the cards.
    I’ll give it more thought and let you know if I think of anything else! 🙂

  9. Hi Quinn. I bought a few of these back in Spring and am using them as color swatch samples for all of my paints, spray inks, watercolors, etc. You can read the postings on my blog beginning in May, here:
    These are wonderful take alongs to the store when you just can’t remember which colors you already have. Enjoy!
    P.S. I am also going to use them to attach fabric swatches of my stash.

    • That’s a brilliant idea–color swatches. Mine would be colored pencils, of which I have a big variety and a lot of brands. It would also be smart of me to stitch through, so I know what thread colors are already in the studio. I have a tendency to buy favorite colors over and over.

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