[UPDATE: The new Spirograph comes with “Spiro-Putty” which eliminates the need for pins. If you have an old Spirograph, I suggest you buy some poster putty and try it instead of pins. See my detailed comparison and review of the new Spirograph for details.]
The original Spirograph sets came with a sheet of thick corrugated cardboard to use underneath the paper so that you could hold the wheels down with the supplied pins.
When we were kids, more than one of us wanted to play with the Spirograph at the same time, so we cut out pieces from cardboard boxes to use as a base.
These weren’t satisfactory, however, as they were too thin for the pins to go through all the way and hold the wheels tightly to the paper. What’s more, they would develop folds that made it harder to draw a perfect design.
And eventually, the boards supplied got so full of pinholes and little-brother scribbles, or got bent or stepped on, that they became a source of frustration.
For decades now, I’ve kept my eye out for triple-layer corrugated cardboard to use as a working surface for my Spirograph.
But I’ve finally found something better – a small cork bulletin board. Designed to hold shopping lists and memos in a busy household, it has a wooden frame and a flat surface, ideal for Spirographing.
The cork holds the pins tighter than does cardboard.
You can probably find one of these boards at a dollar store, hardware store or department store. Look for natural cork, not fiberboard, as it is denser and will stand up better to being poked with pins.
Here’s a natural cork bulletin board on Amazon that looks good to me. It is a little bigger than mine, but a convenient size at 11 x 17″, and most importantly, it has a “natural, self-healing cork surface”. You don’t want bumps in the road of your fine felt pen as it navigates around and around.
If you’re out of pins and don’t want to use putty, they can be bought too. Look for “Map tacks.”
Or maybe you have an even better solution. If so, tell us in the comments.