It was my first 24 hours in Istanbul. With a generous Turkish breakfast still warming my soul, I set out to find the ancient church x mosque = Hagia Sophia. My mind is racing with anticipation when my mental tires squeal to a HALT.

Could it be? —A street-smart Spirograph Salesman?

It’s official. I have died and gone to Heaven.

My original set.

My favorite toy as a child was none other than Kenner’s NEWSpirograph a super duper version of mathematical loopage that has hooked me, forever more, into the land of mandalas, geometry hating, and repetitive pattern as a preferred art form.

I eagerly asked the Salesman to show me his wares, and watched raptly as Erran (his name) created masterful combinations with his pared-down version of The ‘Graph. With Leonardo-like flair, he deftly employed the 7-pen set of ballpoints, that, for only 5 TL more, could also be mine.

He knew just when to stop circum-navigating the cycle, change pens, then begin again.  *Sigh*

I complimented his stylish shirt and let the negotiations begin.  After a brief volley that concluded with the coveted 7-pen set thrown in as a bonus, I pulled out my crisp New Turkish Liras and paid Erran, happily photographing him and his artform.

Dig the cosmic shirt. Bonus.

Now this IS civilized—a place where exotic, handsome men peddle slices of Infinity—no, not cheap plastic sunglasses.

It’s food for the mind, not knock-offs!

But wait.

As the days progressed, I saw many, many more Spirograph Salesmen. They appeared on every corner. Surly, chubby, trucker-hat wearing, indifferent guys on the edge of boredom. Their little street stands set up exactly like Erran’s, though none so charming— or talented.

It appears that Istanbul plays host to a Spirograph Cartel !

Perhaps somewhere in a dark warehouse on the Bosphorus, there is a Godfather of Geometry— a Sultan of the Hypotrochoid if you will  – doling out boxes of imported plastic rings, filling his minions with fear as they work out percentages and hunker over sheets and sheets of cosmic diagrams.

Alas, the toil of geometry for the masses.

Erran’s sampler of advanced spiro art, signed and gifted to me.



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