Text by Amy Conway
Remember the Spirograph? It’s come full circle: This old-fashioned toy is just what you need for making your own decorative accents and accessories with a decidedly of-the-moment geometric look.
Give your bedroom a brand-new look with Spirograph-inspired accents that we designed. This fanciful “headboard” is actually a removable wall decal that you just smooth in place. In white, the swirly patterns look almost like embroidery or lace, making them particularly fitting for bedding; the pillows were sewn from printed fabric. (The peach pillow does in fact some have some embroidery -- we traced a few of the bursts with embroidery thread.)
Martha Stewart Spiral Circles headboard decal, fathead.com
Linen-cotton-canvas pillow fabric, spoonflower.com/marthastewartliving
360-count percale sheet set, by Martha Stewart Collection, in Gray, macys.com
Simple linen pillow, in Blush, hawkinsnewyork.com
Sally blanket, in Khaki, areahome.com
Sonoma baby-alpaca throw, in Rose Quartz, coyuchi.com
Magewa tray table, in Tall 450, nalatanalata.com
Dot pendant light, in Tan, lostine.com
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If you’ve ever made designs with a Spirograph, you can probably conjure up the feeling of swirling the gearlike wheel inside the plastic ring using the tip of a pen—and also recall being amazed at the intricate pattern you created. Unlike many of the toys we grew up with, Spirograph is still around (and around!), and its appeal is more than simple nostalgia. Launched in 1965 by a British engineer, it recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, but the patterns you can make with the interlocking pieces look fresh and contemporary, even as they tap into our childhood memories. We played with Spirographs to embellish note cards and candy tins, and created Spirograph-style designs (with the help of a computer) for clip art, printed fabric, and wall decals. Don’t just draw the patterns on paper—make decorations that are meant to last, much like the device that inspired them.
Each Spirograph set comes with basic instructions. Experiment with the different rings and wheels on scrap paper -- the patterns you can make are nearly limitless. It can be hard to remember exactly how you created a design, so when you draw a pattern you might want to repeat, make a note of the rings, wheels, and holes used.
Assorted Spirograph sets, entertainmentearth.com
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Lounge Around: Floor Pillows
Skip the extra seating -- just pull up a pillow. Or two. These 22- and 30-inch cushions are perfect for reclining on. The printed fabric they’re sewn from has personality, but the thin white lines make the designs subtle enough to fit into almost any setting.
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Top That: Candy Tins
These charming candy containers are easy to put together assemblyline-style, so you can make a bunch for all the sweethearts in your life. Remove the plastic insert from a tin lid; trace it onto colored paper. Use a gel pen to make a Spirograph design, leaving room for a message or hand-drawn heart (or print our clip-art versions). Replace the insert, place the paper against it, and fill the tin.
Gold window tins, in #65132401P and #65132301P, papermart.com
Pale-green buttercream hints at the flavor of this Spirograph-inspired dessert: There’s pistachio pastry cream between two vanilla cake layers. Overlapping piped circles are an easy embellishment; use a round biscuit cutter to mark circles in the smooth coat of buttercream, then pipe over them with royal icing from a pastry bag with a small round tip.
Color-block utensils, in Blush, sucreshop.com
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In the Cards: Stationery
A few swoops and swirls are all it takes to turn plain paper into a personalized set. You can vary the designs: Position a Spirograph pattern in a specific spot, such as centered on a card or envelope flap. Or draw designs in a more free-form arrangement on a piece of paper and then trim it into a card, as shown here with the bottom pair, so that the embellishments come right off the edge.
Gelly Roll pens, in Fluorescent Vermilion, Green, and White, sakuraofamerica.shptron.com
Try different pens. We like gel pens: They come in myriad colors, including white and opaque pale shades that show up on colored papers. For the best results, use uncoated papers.
A Spirograph set comes with putty to secure the ring to the paper. Use three or four dots of it, spaced evenly around the ring—just enough to keep the ring secure without raising it too far off the paper.
Hold the pen at a 90-degree angle to the device, and move it with continuous motion. Don’t press down too hard. If your ink is smearing, try turning the wheel upside down and starting again.
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Practical can be pretty, too: This magnet board brings order and style to a home office or kitchen. It’s made by covering two rectangular metal boards (joined together to make a square shape) with a decal that’s sized to fit. Make matching magnets by adding smaller stickers to flat round magnets.