Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spirograph on steroids

A few weeks ago I saw Nancy Blum's artwork at Reynolds Gallery here in Richmond.  I am crazy about her work - it's huge scale pictures of gorgeously graphic flowers with patterns abounding!  It struck a chord in me, and I would have bought several if I'd had the necessary $45K each!  They're wonderful.  I was tickled to notice that she uses Spirograph images behind the work, just barely, tantalizingly noticeable.  I asked her about it and she confirmed that that is what she does.  It's her first step.

I have always loved Spirographs!  As a kid, it was one of my favorite toys.  I would sit for hours playing with it.  So I decided to get myself one!  I'd seen a set at Barnes and Noble one day but hadn't bought it then.  I went back and got it the day after the show.  Sadly, disappointingly, it just wasn't any good.  Darn!  There were too few gears, no pins, no pens, nada, nothin'!  I took it back.  I looked online to see what was up.  Apparently I'm not the only fan!  On eBay and I found lots of comments about various versions of Spirograph and found that only the original Spirograph is super-cool.  Eventually Kenner had to use magnets rather than pins to hold the wheels in place - so toddlers don't swallow the pins, I guess - and other modifications that took away from the super-cool factor.  I looked through what was available.  Sticker shock kicked in immediately.  $75 was a cheap one!  Yikes!  I didn't do anything for a couple of days then I decided it was worth it to me, so I held my breath and ordered one.  I figured it was about the cost of a really  nice dinner on the town with Chris, and I'd enjoy this for a lot longer!

And boy, have I!  I've already spent 10-12 hours playing!  There's an instruction booklet that comes with it to show different patterns a person can make.  As an adult I can appreciate the complexity of the mathematics involved in it.  I do not remember understanding anything about it as a kid.  I'm pretty sure I didn't look at the booklet - I think I just dove in and played.  What I'm learning is that there are ways to line up the wheels inside the larger wheels to make the patterns vary.  There are so many possibilities!  I decided to take a very nerdy approach to it and am going through everything systematically to figure out which wheels do what.  

Here are a couple of designs I did following the instructions in the booklet.  I went inside the wheel and outside the wheel and used several different gears on the left hand one.  The right hand one is using the elongated bar, believe it or not!, and turning it 45 degrees each time with each different color. 
fig 1.
fig 2.

fig 4
fig 3
 After going through all the ones in the booklet, I started my own studies to see if i could discern the math and logic behind the system.  The notations connote which wheel and gear I used and how I lined each up on the other.  I had a really good time changing colors and sizes and holes, etc., to see what effect it would have.  I still haven't finished going through all the different sized gears.  I'm about 1/2 way through.  
fig 5
fig 6
Figure 6 shows what happens when I pinned the smallest gear down and used larger gears to go around it.  Fig 7 is more of those.  They remind me of geodesic domes or Celtic knots somehow.  I have so much fun saying "I wonder what will happen if I..." then trying it out! 

fig 7
Sometimes I berate myself a tad bit and think I should be painting or doing something serious, but I am having so much fun and am so absorbed in what I'm doing that I can only figure it is leading somewhere interesting.  I want to incorporate these into my paintings and drawings.  This morning I dreamt very clearly of a drawing of a figure with a spirographed image over top of it.  I plan to work on doing it tomorrow in figure drawing session.  I'm very excited to see if I can capture what I saw in my dream.  It was very clear there.

Now I want to figure out how to make the designs larger.  I think I'm limited by how large the plastic wheels are.  I wonder if there are other things I can use for wheels to make these designs.  I can't think of anything, but I figure a trip to the hardware store is in order to see what they might have there.  You never know!

It's delightful giving myself permission to play like I have been lately.  It makes me feel so happy.  I feel like the luckiest woman on earth.  I get to do what a love for a living.  I get to teach people who are excited about learning to do what I love to do.  And I get to play all day, asking, "I wonder what would happen if I..." then find out!  What a life!!

No comments:

Post a Comment