Chandler Gyroscope Doodlewash

Originally called a “Chandler Gyroscope” and created in 1917, this little thing has wowed kids and adults for almost 100 years. They were also sold at science museums when I was growing up and even though I usually already had one, I always wanted a fresh one to take home. Along with my astronaut ice cream, of course, which tasted and looked super weird, but was cool because it could apparently be eaten in outer space.

It came with a little string (not shown her because I ran out of time to sketch it) that you threaded through it and wrapped around the center pole. Then you grabbed each tip and tried to yank the string as hard as you could, hoping it wouldn’t tangle, to make the inner wheel start spinning. Once spinning, the magic truly began, as you could balance the spinning object on the supplied miniature safety cone, balance it on a finger, or even the string you just yanked loose.

The fact that this version was metal, made it seem ultra-fancy and valuable, but it luckily didn’t cost very much. It came in a little plastic box that made it feel like a tiny treasure. It also had a mini book of “tricks” you could perform, but I didn’t end up trying many of those. I was content just balancing it on my finger as the weird and strange sensation of the centrifugal force grew intoxicating. After about a week, I’d get bored with it, and it would just set there like a tiny trophy on the little table in my room.

In my little child brain, I decided it had magical powers and that whenever it would successfully spin on my finger for more than minute, I would get my wish. Nowhere on the box or in the little manual did it every proclaim to be a magical genie, but I was convinced this was the case so I kept spinning and wishing. I didn’t get most of my wishes, but like any good gambler, I went back for more knowing that the next time would be the one to work!

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Pyrrol Red, Azo Green, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal


Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. kirkistan 7 years ago

    Fantastic rendering, Charlie. I have always been fascinated by those as well. Really nice work showing the dimensionality.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Kirk! I was forcing myself to practice ellipses because I’m bad at them…turn a circle at an angle and I have a little trouble with perspective. Glad you like it!

  2. Kari 7 years ago

    I did not own it but I have played with it. And I’ve used it with my science students to discuss conservation of angular momentum. These are so fascinating that it’s rotational axis is maintained while the outer rings are free to rotate in all three axis. So cool! And your doodlewash is fantastic!

  3. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    Hah! I actually have this (bought it for my kids), though my story isn’t as funny as yours. 😄 I love how you convey metal so well with your paints! 💕

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa!! 💕😃I don’t know why, but I like to paint shiny things! Hehe And yay! So cool you have one!! They’re so fun!

  4. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Hi Charlie, I really like your drawing. I agree with Kirk, you manage to render the dimension beautifully. My younger brother had a gyroscope. I do remember playing with it. I’m loving your toy series, so far ever toy has been in my life too. Thanks for all of the fun.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Sharon!! 💕😃So happy you’re enjoying these…I ended up on a toy tangent and didn’t really plan it that way. Of course, I never plan my doodlewashes, as I like to see what comes out and just go with it! 😊hehe

  5. Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

    This does bring back childhood memories! 💖 Wonderful doodlewash AMAZING Charlie! 👍🎨😄

  6. jmnowak 7 years ago

    What a fascinating object! And well doodled, too, Charlie! 🙂
    Never had one of those, although the only spinning toy in my possession was the standard wooden spinning top, of varying sizes, also needing a string pull to make it work. I always spun those on the wooden floor and was amazed at how far it travelled and the circuit it took, if you get what I mean. Always brought lots of squeals of joy! I’m sure, as you’ve described, I’d be making lots of wishes too if I had this beautiful gyroscope. Cheers! <3

    • Author

      Thanks Janina! 💕😃 Happy you liked this! And tops were fun too! But there was just something about the gyroscope that always brought me back. They still makes these so it’s not too late to get one and starting playing again! 😉hehe

      • jmnowak 7 years ago

        I must investigate our local toy stores…
        You know my Mr Smiley in the kitchen posts (tag smiley)? Well, I found him on the street. He’s a spinning top of a different kind…I twirl him occasionally. 😉

        • Author

          Awww Mr. smiley was a rescue?! That’s sweet! And yes…check out toy stores…you need one of these too! 😉hehe

          • jmnowak 7 years ago

            …A ‘rescue’…lol…you have a wonderfully mischievous sense of humour, Charlie! I’d say some poor kid is missing his Mr Smiley…but I don’t care! 😉

          • Author

            Haha…and you’re just mischievous!! I like that in a friend! 😉lol

  7. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Delightful painting and background story. Love the gleam of metal, very nicely done.

  8. memadtwo 7 years ago

    Of course you used it to wish, it has “magic” written all over it! (K)

  9. Cathe 7 years ago

    What a super cool toy, somehow I missed this one growing up. I’m sure it was magical, how couldn’t be? Always hopeful, glass half full, right?

  10. Jodi 7 years ago

    You spun magic again Charlie O! 🙂

  11. Teri C 7 years ago

    I also remember this fascinating toy. Funny how a self imposed quality can add even more fun. At one time you must have wished to be a fabulous artist? Because you’ve made it.

    • Author

      Awww that’s so sweet of you to say, Teri! ❤️😃 I actually never had any aspirations to be a great artist back then. I wanted to be a writer ….and a zoologist! Lol

  12. Teri C 7 years ago

    Well you certainly succeeded on the writer part.
    If this is too personal ignore it, but what do you do for a living?

    • Author

      Hehe…I don’t have a much of a personal filter! 😊 I’m the Creative Director of a boutique creative group that specializes in consumer packaging design and marketing. At least currently…before that I had several different jobs, but always creative direction for the past 20 years. 😉

      • Teri C 7 years ago

        That is so perfect!!! I’m happy to hear it even has creative in the title as you are so creative.

        • Author

          Aww thanks!! 😊

          • Teri C 7 years ago

            Charlie, questions what is your favorite red and yellow? I need to get an all around red and yellow.

          • Author

            Lately, I’ve been loving Pyrrol red because I’ve been working in layers and I like its transparency. If thinks get a little flat and gray in my shadows on say an apple, I can just do another wash of Pyrrol over the whole thing and bring the color back. As for Yellow, I like Gamboge to mix. But when I want a bright yellow on its own I actually use a watered down Quinacridone Gold because it’s a bit sparkly and stands out better.

          • Teri C 7 years ago

            Thank you so much for that. I use Pyrrol red and gamboge but never thought of using Quinn gold like that.

          • Author

            I mainly use it for gold and brass like the instruments and then discovered it can make a really pop out yellow! Hehe… Quin Gold is my favorite because it’s 5 colors in one depending on how much water you use.

  13. Jacob 7 years ago

    Oh wow! As a child I must have missed the boat as far as these are concerned, but I’ve just sat and watched a chap playing with one on YouTube. Captivating! How adorable that you turned it into a genie’s lamp. Your doodlewash captures the command and wonder of the object in a way I can’t quite put my finger on – perhaps it’s the nostalgia creeping in. Marvellous! (And yay for you rendering more metals!)

    • Author

      Hehe…I’m so glad you checked it out on YouTube!! Petty magical though wouldn’t you say? Total genie’s lamp! Lol hehe…metals are fun to render for some reason. I seem to understand than say…skin….hmm wonder what’s up with that!! 😳😊hehe

      • Jacob 7 years ago

        Magical indeed… I want one! Add it to the ever-growing list of (REDACTED)th birthday presents… 😉

        You should do a series on metal shiny stuff. Well, if I had my way! 😛

        • Author

          Yeah, see…you really want me to bring the voting back don’t you?! Lol And when is your birthday by the way?

          • Jacob 7 years ago

            No no, carry on as you wish! 😉 Haha… it’s the 31st so a little way off yet. (And it can stay a little way off!)

  14. Shine on, my glowing friend! 💜

  15. Rachel Murphree 7 years ago

    Oh I just put my kids’ version of this in their memory box. such fun! great doodle was usual, Charlie.

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