Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Illustration Friday: Mesmerizing

I'm beginning to think that I have the Kenner toy company to thank for my fascination with radial symmetry. In 1966, they introduced the Spirograph, one of the most mesmerizing toys of all time. I drew with mine until its skinny pens dried out and I had to make do with whatever else we had in the house. And when they introduced the Super Spirograph a year later, well, I was one obsessed little geek...er, little girl.


I'm sure the seeds of my interest had already been sown: Like most kids, I loved making paper snowflakes, and I still love the expressions on kids' faces when they open up that pie-shaped paper they've been cutting. But if I had to guess, my very first glimpse of the amazing radial symmetry found in nature was probably this one—still one of the most elegant examples, to be sure—the star in the center of an apple.

So, thank you, Kenner Products, for the fact that I once wrote a college term paper on these, have this on my coffee table, and these in my portfolio:

If you're interested, here's a link to a fabulous page by someone who clearly loved his Spirograph as much as I loved mine. Did you have a favorite creative toy growing up? Let the nostalgia begin!

26 comments:

  1. Sarah this is gorgeous. I love the slither of red of the apple and the subtle flecks of green. This would make an amazing pattern on fabric. Perhaps a dress or a bag.

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  2. Yes, Yes, I loved my Spirograph!! One of the best toys ever.

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  3. I didn't know that was called radial symmetry. That's good to know! I had a spirograph too, and loved it. But I liked my playdoh factory best! Those were the days... Anyway, I love your paintings here!

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  4. I can so relate! My grandparents had a spirograph set and when I would go visit them I would play with it endlessly. I wish I could find one of those sets - like Laurie said, one of the best toys ever!

    Lovely inspired drawings!

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  5. cheers for the comment on my drawing. your drawings are delicate and pretty. i thought recently i wanna get a spiro again. i was pretty hopeless at it as a kid. i reckon i would be better now.

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  6. awww.. my spirograph!!! yes I used to love it and I had forgotten all about them!! I wonder if they still make them ?

    Your work is so beautiful..what you can do with a colored pencil!! I love it all ( especially the cut cabbage !)

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  7. Fabulous images, and 'thanks for the memories'. I too remember the Spirograph. I had lots of fun with it - way back when!!

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  8. Brilliant, as always, Sarah! Thanks!
    Oh, and I was a Spirograph geek too. I wish I still had mine, the modern-day ones aren't made as well. :0)

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  9. Another beautiful illustration Sarah, and i also was totally obsessed with my Spirograph, wish i still had it:(

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  10. Beautiful paintings! Add me to your list of Spirograph lovers :)

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  11. I never had art toys. I had a glass, clear-pink poodle with bubblebath and I loved it. I kept it after the bubblebath was gone as it didn't matter much like the pink poodle. My mother tossed it out as junk when we moved. Some day I am going to get a tiny poodle and dye it's hair pink. I will have my pink poodle again!

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  12. Oops. I forgot to tell you how pretty your drawings are. I just started working in a new journal. It's a puzzle book of my daughter's but it has such a lovely cover I don't want to throw it away so I am repurposing it. Maybe I can find some radially symetric things to draw in it. I was looking for a theme for this book. I wonder if I can find that many though...

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  13. I was a Spirograph junkie too! You are doing your Spirograph years proud, for sure. Such beautiful, colorful drawings. They make me want to get really close to them to study how all the colors work together. Curse you, computer monitor!!

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  14. Ha ha...I love that there are so many fellow Spirograph lovers!

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  15. Here's another spirograph fan here Sarah. I was bought mine for Christmas in the late 60s and also loved it. Some great nostalgia here...I also loved my Playdough, Knitting Nancy, Etch a Sketch, Lego, Touch Tapestery, Colour by Numbers.. and so my list could go on. Great post! Have a good weekend,
    Jane x

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  16. Hi Sarah, I love that such a simple looking drawing can be so mesmerizing, it's beautiful!

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  17. I LOVE the Spirograph--a wonderful inspiration for these fab drawings! All are truly mesmerizing. They are a feast for the eyes!

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  18. Sarah, I'm with Elizabeth, these are mesmerizing, a feast for the eyes and like everyone, oh, yeah, the spirograph was the most fun (laughed at the picture on the box! I so remember that box!) As always, these are amazing!

    And I laughed about your comment on my blog with Ellie Mae chasing chickens. Gosh darn dog doesn't chase birds. We now have a troop of 20 turkeys and she just looks on with disinterest and our neighbor has chickens and she could care less. I like to think that in her head she's saying "I'm a coonhound and I'm a critter dog, birds are for those crazy labs, GSPs, and goldens...they couldn't handle the night hunts."

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  19. Ah, the Spirograph! That was fun for sure, & who knows how it may have influenced my artistic eye-- though my absolute favorite childhood pastime was probably making little miniature thingies out of Sculpey. (If you don't count drawing & reading, that is!)

    Anyway, I share your love for Haeckel, & nature's "endless forms most beautiful" as Darwin put it. Your apple is stunning!!

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  20. Hey Sarah, well Mandala comes to mind, actually mimimalist mandala, the art of something is often in the suggestion, in the implication of something. If we imply something tangably with minimal strokes then we have become masters of the art....

    hmm, wonder why I am so heavy handed :)

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  21. Oh, I love your wonderful comments! Boy, Andrew, that mandala comment is some rich food for thought...I must learn more about mandala art...fascinating!

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  22. I always wanted a Spirograph!
    Your drawings are cool, as always. Love the apple.

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  23. Wonderful stuff (and yes, I had Spirograph too in my youth). Love the link to the rose windows: beautiful inspiration.
    Sue

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