# Spirographs: A great art activity for kids and adults

Source
Source

What's the most amazing work of art you've ever created with a pen and paper? For me, it's a spirograph.

I used to make these when I was a little girl. My brother and I would spend hours with our spirograph kit and make doodles, each one different and special. You could use different colors of pen and paper. We weren't creative enough to think about it when we were kids, but they could make great stationery, art backgrounds, and other items.

I remembered about spirographs when I tried to look for nimbus vector shapes on the Internet, and search results pointed back to these, the old-school version of what can now be made in Adobe Illustrator or other image editing and creating tools.

To be math-y, spirographs comprise of curves curve formed by a rotating circle inside or outside of another circle. A pen is placed at some point on the rotating circle, and when it follows the path of the other circle, it makes for an admirable pattern. The parametric equations for the curves are:

• x(t)=(R+r)cos(t) + p*cos((R+r)t/r), and
• y(t)=(R+r)sin(t) + p*sin((R+r)t/r)

Toymakers have realized this and have created toys to allow anyone to create spirographs on their own. To use a spirograph kit, all you have to do is take one of the round or triangular-shaped plastic pieces and put it against one of the larger pieces, like the nail file-shaped one or the one that looks like a boomerang. You would put the pen tip through one of the holes in the small pieces, press the small piece against the large pieces, then move the small piece around so the pen tip stays through the hole, thus creating a beautiful design while moving around the large piece. The small piece rotates around the large piece while spinning itself; it's a great idea.

Now people can do it on the computer... but it's much more fun to do it this way. The only time it gets frustrating is if the pen loses the hole or if your hand slips and the small piece comes away from the larger piece at some point.

I would encourage any parent to give their kids this toy, if the children are old enough. The pieces aren't really sharp; the little nodes on the sides of the pieces that fit into each other aren't that sharp, but they can break and the edges can be dangerous.

## More by this Author

• 10

Over the years as I've developed my own drawing style, I've tried a variety of mediums and have discovered the pros and cons of each. Read about my experiences with pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, and ink.

• EDITOR'S CHOICE
37

Candles make great gifts and can have a myriad of uses, whether for illumination, spreading scent, celebration, setting a mood or for decoration. Conveniently they are one of the simplest and cheapest crafts to do at...

• 8

Have you ever heard of power feminism? Two women, Katie Roiphe and Naomi Wolf, say that society doesn't oppress women because women are powerful enough to control their fates. Women who don't have the mindset of a...

Pam Pounds 8 years ago from So Cal Girl in the Midwest!

I had a spirograph when I was a kid (a long time ago)...I always wondered what the mathematical equations for those circles were!!! ;) Thanks for bringing back a memory!!

jacobworld 8 years ago from Ireland

nice one

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

A spirograph was definitely a toy from my generation. I remember getting my tonsils out and my parents bringing me a spirograph to pass the recuperation time away. (this was way before Videos, or as we now have DVD's! lol) I spent hours creating cool things with it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! lol

nightcats 8 years ago from North Vancouver

Spirigraphs make great embellishments for hand made greeting cards or scrapbook pages also.

0 of 8192 characters used