spirographing past & present

“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 3:14

I just love eBay.  I recently purchased a vintage 1967 Version #401 Kenner Spirograph set.  Even though it arrived damaged, reeking heavily of smoke (non-smokers can’t STAND that), and incomplete with missing wheels … the prospect of what these little plastic wheels can do for my art journaling is very promising. Modern day Spirograph-like sets have improved because they now contain plastic frames in various shapes wherein you can place the wheels – so what’s no longer needed is pinning the wheel to a cardboard base with those teeny tiny little map pins (remember those?).

In the 1960’s we did Spirographing on small pieces of scrap paper.  Now that I want to use it in my journaling, I’ve got to devise a means to keep the wheels straight while holding the book open. What I had forgotten, and was brought back to memory, is the fact that not only can you make designs by rotating wheels INSIDE plastic outer frames, but that one can make larger and longer patterns by using the design wheel on the OUTSIDE of the frame. It’s funny – memory – and how you forget stuff like that even with something you probably played with weekly as a child.

Another challenge to resurrecting the Spirograph is that many sets now available on eBay are incomplete.  If you’re missing design wheels, you can also search for the specific number which might be sold separately on eBay too.  But let’s go back to those little pens you used to have to use with the set.  Early Spirograph sets had 3″ tall pens that were easy to lose and didn’t last long but they did offer the benefit of a longer pen nib that actually fit into the various size design wheel holes, which is critical for overall success.  Later sets had more advanced pens.  So, fast forward to 2011 and luckily with all the very fine tip pens available, one can easily find one that will match up.  I like using the Marvy Uchida LePens (they’re available at Pearl Paint, Papyrus, some Paper Sources, or here).

I was about four (my son’s age) when Kenner came out with set 401 (blue tray) and they later produced other companion sets (i.e. red tray).  Likely, I didn’t try and master the Spirograph until around 1970 or so – well over 40 years ago.  What a hoot to try it again today in the first sample above.  The turquoise and black rings were done with LePens and the yellow inner ring was done with a Gelly Roll Metallic gel pen.  Remember not to press too hard and give yourself a break when holding down the outer ring while trying to manipulate the inner ring.

You’ll see above I goofed up on the movements of the line, probably because I was going too fast and also having to keep interchanging DVDs for my son who was really overcome with having to decide between Spiderman, Superman, Batman or Little Mermaid.  Life was so much simpler when we had Spirographs; now you have to pray the DVD will play, pray it holds its power, pray the CD doesn’t have scratches, pray over the content of the movie, and pray the children can sit still for five minutes.  And so, with Philippians 3:14 in mind, it’s been a long time since 1967.

We’re taught to forget the past and move forward with the future and for that, I am not alone.  Maybe I can do something marvelous with my new set soon and rediscover an innocent joy of an early childhood’s love of arts & crafts – much like THIS GUY who has made Spirograph a yoga art form.  Sometimes you just need a day to explore and play.  What a joy to discover there are no mistakes in art, just experience.

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