Remember getting a Spirograph for Christmas? Yeah, baby! That was the BEST. That wee creative toy had an infinite number of intricate geometric designs within those simple plastic gears. Well Joe Freedman’s LEAFpdx has taken that idea to the next level.
Joe’s Cycloid Drawing Machine has a similar concept to the popular toy, but is actually inspired by drawing machines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The issue with these early toys was their limitation in what they could do. The Cycloid Drawing Machine overcomes this issue with infinite adjustments for a fulcrum that rotates and moves making the only limitation you, your imagination and the size of what you create.
So how does it work? Similar to early drawing machines, this one doesn’t run on electricity, motors, or batteries. And no, it isn’t connected via Wi-Fi either. Instead, you start drawing by cranking the handle. The machine has turntables and gears that all work together to create the pattern. All you have to do is, select the gears, attach the fulcrum, add a piece of paper to the turntable and start cranking. The base set comes with two turntables and 12 interchangeable gears. Different combinations allow for radically different results. There’s also a pen holder with an adjustment for pens of different lengths; changing the length gives you different effects.
Each Cycloid Drawing Machine is assembled by hand and each part is made from various materials. LEAFpdx didn’t want to create something that only looked good, they want to make sure it lasted for years. The turntables and base are made from Appleply FSC plywood from Oregon. The rods and penholder come from maple hardwood harvested and milled in Michigan, while the gears are made out of basswood. Washers and bearings are made fro walnut and all the other hardware is made from brass. Most of the pieces, like the fulcrum and gears, were made with a laser cutter.
Successfully launched on Kickstarter, the basic kits currently run for $195 and come with two turntables, 12 gears, two extender rods, 100 sheets of hexagonal paper, three colored pens, four fulcrum holders of various heights, three connecting rods, 50 sheets of heavy paper, and a roll of 3M Magic tape. The deluxe set includes the same items, but features more gears and turntables. Thought they’re out of stock now, keep an eye on availability at the LEAFpdx website.
Not only is the machine impressive to look at, but the drawings made with it are stunning. They’re complex, intricate, and unique. Sure, you can probably make the same results by hand with a lot of talent and patience. But the Cycloid Drawing Machine makes it infinitely easier to make awe inspiring designs you’ll want to show off in your home.