K is for Kaleidoscope – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

New Thoughts on Words

Remember looking through a kaleidoscope as a child, the view filled with wonder and excitement.

For me, it was like going to Lowe’s Paradise Theater on Fordham road in the Bronx. There was a hole in the ceiling that allowed patrons to peak at the moon and stars while enjoying a movie. I did not know it was pretend until a teen, and stepped outside to daylight after the show.

As with a kaleidoscope, once the device met my eye, I traveled to an exotic place where imagined shapes and colors lived.

The kaleidoscope, invented by David Brewster; a scientist experimenting with light polarization around 1815, quickly became a popular toy with sales reaching two hundred thousand in three months time.

Webster’s dictionary defines a kaleidoscope as an “optical instrument which by an arrangement of reflective surfaces exhibits an infinite variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms of its content.” The effect achieved by angling mirrors towards each other to create multiple reflections.  Usually bits of glass or paper are put in the cylinder’s “object chamber” to be reflected, although it could be anything, including liquid.

Paul Dewa explains how a kaleidoscope works in his you/tube video.

We are familiar with the inexpensive cardboard and wood cylinder type but there are many others resembling art forms.

Frank and Janet Higgins worked with stain glass for years and called their studio “Kaleidoscope”  but did not design and build kaleidoscopes until the mid-90’s. Their aim is “to make high-quality playthings for grown-ups, concentrating equally on innovative design, the internal images and the external presentation.”  That means, they strive to be the best.  You can view the slide show at Picture Trail.

What makes a kaleidoscope fascinating is perception. We reflect differently on the same thought or memory, and the hope that change will make life better.

….just saying