Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Vintage Spirograph Set

Spirograph-box

This is the real deal, vintage 1967 original Spirograph by Kenner No. 401. Although the resulting art was too precise and anal looking for me – zillions of geometric combinations looking like they’re made from little spiders’ legs – I recognize the Spirograph as an icon in Pop Culture. Just like those string art paintings of owls, ships and such that I passionately collect but never felt drawn to create.

Made by locking gears and rotating plastic wheels inside other plastic wheels and tracing with a pen as they move, the rules of this are too rigid for me. Hell, I can’t even paint inside the lines so something demanding precision and this much repetition definitely falls outside my scope. I was always the free form type. But I love that Spirographs make non-artists feel like artists, proud enough to hang their creations on their walls and refrigerators. I’ve always looked at art – any form of it – as something social and a crash course in self expression. So if a series of little curves, technically known as hypotrochoids and epitrochoids, turn most people on who am I to argue?

Spirograph-tools_9742

Spirograph_9740

Spirograph_9745

Spirograph_9746

1960′s Spirograph commercial:

Spirograph-commercial-1960's

1970′s Spiromania commercial:

Spirograph-commercial-1970's

This is the real deal, vintage 1967 original Spirograph by Kenner No. 401. Although the resulting art was too precise and anal looking for me – zillions of geometric combinations looking like they’re made from little spiders’ legs – I recognize the Spirograph as an icon in Pop Culture. Just like those string art paintings – owls, ships and such – that I passionately collect but never felt drawn to create.
Created by locking gears and rotating plastic wheels inside other plastic wheels and tracing with a pen as they move, the rules of this are too rigid for me. Hell, I can’t even paint within the lines so something demanding precision and this much repetition definitely falls outside my scope. I was always the free form. But I love that Spirographs make non-artists feel like artists, proud enough to hang their creations on their walls and refrigerators. I’ve always looked at art – any form of it – as something social and a crash course in self expression. So if a series of little curves, technically known as hypotrochoids and epitrochoids, turn most people on who am I to argue?

Categories: Art, bad art, Crafts, Creative process, Games, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Painting, Products

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3 Comments

  • Ludovicah says:

    Something I have ALWAYS wanted and still want. My sister had one, but I wasn’t allowed to use it because of all the pins…

  • Georgia says:

    Ah! There it is in all its glory! My older sister had this set. Alas, I wasn’t allowed to touch it much less try it. I just remember the little push pins were problematic (not only to keep up with and returned to their little holding case but also because I felt it marred the artwork being created) and the ballpoint stick pen set (blue, green, red and black, I believe) would dry out at the most unopportune times.

    I still coveted it.

  • barbelle says:

    This was one of my favorites growing up. I have fond memories of spending hours on one picture only to have the gear slip and cause me to draw a line right through the whole thing. It was fun but sometimes frustrating.

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