Remember Spirograph? With a little practise you can create beautiful geometric patterns and artwork – and there are more sets than ever before to choose from! Spirograph has endeared itself over the generations, and it is still as popular today as it ever was. We love this toy – and in this article, we take you through all the official Spirograph sets that are in production today. There are lots of other brands, so this article only lists the original.
Spotted an official Spirograph set we’ve missed out on? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re in a crafty mood, why not check out the best glue gun and best die-cutting machine. Thinking about buying a craft printer? Check out our review of the best printer for card making. Want a surprise selection of craft goodies delivered to your door each month? Check out our round-up of the best craft subscription boxes, or why not keep the teenagers occupied during the summer holidays with the best paint by number kits. Love textile art? Browse through our selection of rug making kits!
What is a Spirograph?
A Spirograph is a geometric drawing toy that originates from the Victorian era. Mathematician Bruno Abdank-Abakanowicz first invented the Spirograph sometime between 1881 and 1900, as a way of drawing spirals. But the Spirograph that we know and love today, was developed by engineer Denys Fisher in the mid-sixties, and was advertised as a way to draw “a million marvellous patterns”. Which, given the number of combinations possible, isn’t far from the truth!
How does a Spirograph work?
A Spirograph uses gears (or wheels) placed into a ring to create geometric artwork. The teeth on the gears interlock with those on the inner edge of the ring, and by placing a drawing instrument into the holes in the gears, you can manipulate the gear to rotate along the inner circumference of the ring. Doing so produces mathematical curves known as hypotrochoids and (extremely satisfying) epitrochoids. Each gear has several different holes, each producing different patterns – but the fun really begins when you start layering up patterns and colours! Add to that, the gears and rings come in multiple shapes and sizes, so there really is no limit to the variety of patterns you can create. It just takes a little practice.
If you’ve ever used a Spirograph set, you know that one slip of the hand can ruin a masterpiece. But like every skill, practice makes perfect, and after a few attempts (or perhaps, many attempts), you’ll be creating stunning Instagram-worthy geometric art. Here are a few tips to help you perfect your new hobby:
- When starting out with a new configuration, take it slow. Keep the rotations as slow as possible to allow the muscle memory in your hand to develop. Then gradually increase speed as you feel more confident with that configuration.
- If your pen comes off the paper, don’t worry! Just put the pen back into the same hole and continue. The pattern will eventually join up with where the pen came off the paper – and you will begin retracing lines you’ve already drawn. That’s when you know that pattern is complete!
- Try using different types of pens and pencils. Biros work well for spirograph, so do felt tip pens, pencil crayons, and gel pens. Just make sure you’re using something with a small enough nib to fit through the holes. And remember – pencils blunt over time, so you may need to stop partway through to sharpen them (otherwise there will be different line thicknesses where they meet up).
- Keep your pen as vertical as possible when drawing, as this will help the gears to move around the ring as smoothly as possible.
- Try to concentrate on moving your pen with the gear, in the direction that the gear is rolling – rather than how the design is developing. Doing this will help you get used to the motion needed to create that design.
- Try to keep the pressure as even as possible, as this will help you to maintain a consistent speed. This is important as it helps to avoid your pen slipping.
- Most importantly – just keep at it, and have fun!
Where can I buy a Spirograph set?
You can buy Spirograph from most good craft stores, department stores like John Lewis, stationery shops like Ryman and WHSmith, as well as places like Argos and Hobbycraft. Toy shops are another brilliant place to buy Spirographs, and if you’re doing your weekly shop, check out the toy aisle in your local supermarket for Spirograph sets – ASDA and Walmart often have a nice selection.
11 of the best Spirographs on the market
Different Spirograph sets to suit different needs. Whether you want a small Spirograph set to slip in your bag and take on holiday, or a Spirograph set with all the bells and whistles – we’ve got you covered. Here are all the Spirograph sets available on the market now:
This is the original Spirograph, repackaged for today’s world. What’s nice about the new set, is that it includes something called “Spiro-putty”. Basically, what this does is to hold the fixed position pieces (like the rings) in place on the paper. It doesn’t damage the surface of the paper and it means that it frees up your other hand. The Spiro-Putty replaces the pin that used to be included with the earlier Spirograph sets. The original set also comes with six markers and two biro-type pens. I’ve always had better luck with the biros, but it’s down to personal preference!
Original Spirograph set, Deluxe edition
The Spirograph deluxe comes with a whopping 45 pieces, including 19 wheels and two rings. If you can afford it, it’s definitely worth considering getting the deluxe version over the original, just for the sheer quantity of wheels – as it opens up a lot more options for your artwork.
What is Spirograph Junior? Spirograph Junior has larger gears than other Spirograph sets, making them easier to work with for smaller hands. It also includes a carry-along desk, and the included markers are all washable – appreciated!
Spirograph Cyclex set
The Spirograph Cyclex is essentially an all-in-one tool that ensures the Spirograph gears are always connecting with the outer Spirograph rings. The gears are attached, so they won’t slip or fall out, like with the traditional Spirograph. If the gears get stuck – just help them along a bit, but overall, this is a nice option if you are struggling with the traditional Spirograph.
Original Spirograph set with markers
This is exactly what it says – it’s the original Spirograph set, but it comes with eight coloured markers instead of the six markers and two biros in the original (listed above). Well, by markers – they’re essentially felt tip pens, so just be careful not to pause for too long in one place or the colour may bleed through the paper. It’s down to personal preference – do you prefer using markers or biros? Let us know in the comments below!
Travel Spirograph set
The Travel Spirograph is a smaller, handheld Spirograph where all the bits and pieces are contained within the shell of the Spirograph itself. This Spirograph opens up, revealing two further compartments. The topmost compartment (more like a tray) is where the paper sits, and the one underneath that is for the spare gears. The ring is built into the top layer, which is nice. And when you run out of the supplied paper – Post It notes work well as a substitute.
Scratch & Shimmer Spirograph set
This Spirograph set comes with 16 scratch sheets – eight of rainbow, and eight of glitter – as well as sticker sheets and a special 50th Anniversary deluxe rainbow non-slip wheel. This is a really fun take on the classic Spirograph set we’ve come to know and love – and you can buy replacement scratch sheets from lots of good stationery shops and craft retailers.
Original Spirograph set in collectors tin
This Spirograph set is much the same as the Original Spirograph Design set, but it does not include the markers. It’s slightly pricier than the original, however, it does come in a really nice collectors tin, which personally, I really like! Use the tin to store your gears without faffing with plastic packaging – thumbs up from me.
Original Spirograph set, Deluxe Multicoloured
The deluxe multicoloured Spirograph set is more or less the same as the deluxe version listed above. In fact, apart from the more colourful packaging, there doesn’t seem to be much difference whatsoever. However – you can sometimes find this Spirograph set on sale for less than the other Deluxe version – so it’s worth keeping an eye out for this “multicoloured” set if you’re after a bargain!
Original Spirograph set, Super Spirograph!
Super Spirograph is interesting – it’s like a cross between a train set and the traditional Spirograph! As well as the regular rings used to guide the gears around, it comes with sections that snap together, to create your own bespoke shaped rings. It also comes with a special 50th Anniversary die-cast golden wheel (gear), which is just a nice thing to have. This is a serious piece of kit with a lot of components. The most, I think, of any kit so far. It’s on sale at the moment, so grab it to keep arty kids occupied during the school summer holidays!
Spirograph mini set
This mini Spirograph set comes with six wheels, one ring and three markers, all in a cute storage tin. It’s a nice little set – although it’s more expensive than the original, the tin is a really useful way to stay organised.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Spirograph run-through. We have plenty of other fun projects here on Gathered, too. Why not learn a new skill with how to make balloon animals, or how about our ultimate guide to loom bands. Spotted a Spirograph sets we’ve missed off of our list? Let us know in the comments below!