Well, well, well. If it isn’t my old pal Spirograph.
I spotted this new metal box version in a museum shop and had to get it. It’s been decades, and I mean decades, since I played with Spirograph. It was a favorite art toy of mine as a kid. I think the original ones came in cardboard boxes.
I would bet there are bigger newer versions of this than the one I picked up. This box measures a mere 6 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. The pen options are pretty limited — there are just two. One red, one blue. Here’s what else the box comes with:
It no longer uses pins to tack the gear wheels to the paper. It comes with “spiro-putty,” which is similar to that tacky stuff used to adhere posters to the wall. I think it’s a great improvement. You just roll out small balls of the putty, stick it to the back of the wheel, and you’re good to go. No more shifty wheels. The putty holds it tight.
The instructions say to twist the wheel, rather than pull, when lifting it off the paper. This is in order to prevent the putty from tearing the paper. I found it really difficult to twist, but sliding it worked well for me.
I had forgotten how slowly and consistently you need to move the pen. If you go too quickly, it’s easy to slip out of gear. If you hesitate in mid-design, you end up with little blobs of ink where you stalled.
Did I have as much fun playing with it as I thought I would? Sadly, no. It was another reminder that attempts to recreate delightful experiences seldom work. But I’m going to play with it some more. Practice is likely to make me more comfortable with it.