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?
1960’s Spirograph commercial:
1970’s Spiromania commercial: