Pongo and Das

Patrizia Poli
2 min readOct 31, 2021

I challenge any grandfather who is shaping the Didò together with his grandson not to call him Pongo.

The Pongo was a type of plasticine from Adica Pongo, in vogue in my time. It was like the current Didò, colorful and soft, easy to model, a delight for all children.

Then there was the Das, (acronym of its producer Dario Sala who patented it in 1962), more coveted if you were older. It consisted of a pasty and compact block of gray clay, similar to clay, which did not require firing in the oven, just like the one modeled by real sculptors, and you could make things out of it when you grew up, even a real vase (like the one from the mythical “Ghost” scene). And there was also Vernidas, a paint to spread over it to vitrify it and make it shine.

My mother always told me to use little “otherwise it would dry out”, and I, disappointed and frustrated, limited myself until, alas, the pasta really dried without my having been able to use it. And you had to be careful, because at the slightest hole in the package everything really dried up and became useless.

Later it became known that Das contained asbestos, that all of us children of the sixties handled it unaware and blissful, but what about the pleasure of using the special tools to cut the block and try to shape it? What about opening the package and feeling in your hands that beautiful piece of clay that stuck to your palm and left your hands rough and dry? What about the infinite possibilities that opened up, despite my very little manual skills? What about the joy of trying to color the shapeless artifact with watercolors and, finally, polish it all with the prodigious (for those naive and romantic times) Vernidas?

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Patrizia Poli

Patrizia Poli was born in Livorno in 1961. Writer of fiction and blogger, she published seven novels.