k....is for

Following along again with Toni's A-Z  "a...is for"  meme, today's letter is K

K...is for>>>


I had one of these as a kid, not as pretty to look at, but it made wonderful patterns that I loved to look at. No two patterns were ever the same

Hands up who else had one?

Here's the Wikipedia story:-

"A kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass.
As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the reflection off of the mirrors.
Coined in 1817 by Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster, "kaleidoscope" is derived from the Ancient Greek καλός (kalos), "beautiful, beauty", εἶδος (eidos), "that which is seen: form, shape" and σκοπέω (skopeō), "to look to, to examine", hence "observer of beautiful forms." 

A Kaleidoscope operates on the principle of multiple reflection, where several mirrors are placed at an angle to one another, usually 60°. Typically there are three rectangular mirrors. Setting the mirrors at a 60°so that they form a triangle. The 60° angle creates seven duplicate images of the objects, five at 60°, and 2 at 90°. As the tube is rotated, the tumbling of the coloured objects presents varying colours and patterns. Arbitrary patterns shows up as a beautiful symmetrical pattern created by the anreflections. A two-mirror kaleidoscope yields a pattern or patterns isolated against a solid black background, while the three-mirror (closed triangle) type yields a pattern that fills the entire field. 

Modern kaleidoscopes are made of brass tubes, stained glass, wood, steel, gourds or almost any material an artist can use. The part containing objects to be viewed is called the 'object chamber' or 'object cell'. Object cells may contain almost any material. Sometimes the object cell is filled with a liquid so the items float and move through the object cell in response to a slight movement from the viewer.
Sir David Brewster began work leading towards invention of the kaleidoscope in 1815 when he was conducting experiments on light polarization, but it was not patented until two years later.  His initial design was a tube with pairs of mirrors at one end, pairs of translucent disks at the other, and beads between the two. 

Brewster chose renowned achromatic lens developer Philip Carpenter as the sole manufacturer of the kaleidoscope in 1817. It proved to be a massive success with two hundred thousand kaleidoscopes sold in London and Paris in just three months. Realising that the company could not meet this level of demand, Brewster requested permission from Carpenter on 17 May 1818 for the device to be made by other manufacturers, to which he agreed.
Initially intended as a scientific tool, the kaleidoscope was later copied as a toy. Brewster later believed he would make money from this popular invention; however, a fault in his patent application allowed others to copy his invention.

Most kaleidoscopes are mass-produced from inexpensive materials, and intended as children's toys. At the other extreme are handmade pieces that display fine craftsmanship. 
Craft galleries often carry a few kaleidoscopes, while other enterprises specialize in them, carrying dozens of different types from different artists and craftspeople."

I picked up a kaleidoscope in a toy store a few years ago and had a look inside, but I was very disappointed to see that the coloured bits just rolled around in the cylinder, there were no patterns at all.

Here are some of the patterns made by a good quality kaleidoscope. 

beautiful blues
this one looks like raspberries and blackberries.

multi-hued flower?

this one could be a domed ceiling in a library or museum.

a jewel toned rug?

I really like this one. Fabric printed like this would make a fabulous doona cover.
Or a great skirt!
I'm not sure if this is made in a kaleidoscope, or if someone used kaleidoscope images to create the picture.
Either way, it's really good and I love it.

so pretty.

I have to find another kaleidoscope, it's been a long, long, time since I gazed at the patterns.


  1. I sure did have one We put some in the grands socks this past Christmas.

  2. They fascinated me when I was young. Even now I think they are pretty interesting.

  3. I just sent one to my niece inside a package for Easter as my sister-in-law doesn't like them having too much chocolate! Just gorgeous. Hope she likes it.

  4. The second last picture is not a kaleidoscope pic. It is created by Chaos Theory. More can be seen here"

  5. The vast kaleidoscope of life.
    Spinning. Spinning. You sexy thing.

  6. River
    Oh yes, I remember that. The patterns are absolutely breathtaking. I guess I never noticed when they left they planet but I haven't seen one or thought about it in years. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Yes I had one and my kids did as well. Actually I received an email this week and the screen became alive with all these fantastic patterns changing all the time. You can only watch it for so long though. The website is:

  8. Not only did I have one, I still do (in fact I have two). I find them fascinating things, and the patterns are often very beautiful indeed.

  9. Delores; your grandchildren will love them.

    Andrew; I would love to find a good one now, haven't seen any for a long time.

    A Farmer's Wife; I'd like to know where you bought one. Is it a store that is nationwide? I'd like to get one. Or several for my own grandkids.

    mm; I suspected as much, but it does look like kaleidoscope images were used in the make up of it. I found all these images at google.

    R.H. life does spin quite a lot sometimes.

    Manzanita; I'm going to search for and buy one, hopefully in a real store so I can check that it is a good one and not a cheap thing that doesn't make patterns.

    Mimsie; my kids didn't have them as I couldn't find any then. If I find some now, my youngest grandkids will have one each. Thank you for that link, I'll check it out.

    Elephant's Child; you have two?? I'm envious a little. I'm sure I'll track one down eventually.

  10. They're not the same as the one's we had as kids though are they River? I ordered a few as gifts recently and they're all crap by comparison.

  11. My idea of a kaleidoscope was an exhibit of one I saw at the Scienceworks Museum. This was a flat horizontal disk with small vertical mirrors all around the outer edge. The mirrors had colour pictures on them and when the disk was spun there was a whirl of image and colour. I think movies (which are really a series of still photographs with gaps between) rely on a similar trick of perception. My earliest and most wonderous experience in this way of things was when my daddy showed me the Skipping Girl neon in dirty old industrial Victoria street. Look it up.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. 'Kaleidoscope' is the title of the artpiece created by Shadoweddancer who is a digital artist who uses Chaos Theory (a mathematical formula) which generates random but repetitive pattern. By changing the constants of the equation, you can generate different types of patterns.
    You can watch this youtube if you are interested:

  14. Dali's The Persistence of Memory is a very nice painting become crass (as many good things have) through popularity among atheist cafe society. Meanwhile nothing to do with that but there is indeed a thing known as persistance of image. Look at an object, close your eyes, and if you're willing you can still see the object. That's memory. I still see the little street where I grew up: every house, hedge, blade of grass; I see the old man himself, coming home from the pub. There's the houses, people, everyone alive, and all been gone for decades.

    Don't let any fool tell you memory fabricates.

  15. I remember my father showing me how to make one ..... and how dazzled I was at the magic it produced.

  16. Wow... amazing! I LOVE kaleidoscopes! Are they still around... I mean do kids these days take an interest in them like we used to? Images are beautiful.

  17. Tempo; I hope there are still good quality ones to be found. Most of those in toy stores now are cheaply made plastic things where the coloured bits just roll around. I suspect they don't use real mirrors and/or don't position them properly. Perhaps there is a "choking hazard/health issue" involved.

    R.H. I've never seen a flat kaleidoscope, but then I haven't been to a scienceworks museum.

    mm; I'd love to check the youtube link, but my connection is way too slow. Any youtube takes so long to load, I can go to the kitchen, wash, dry and put away a days worth of dishes, then make a coffee before it has finished loading. That may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

    Kath Lockett; you know how to make one?? wow. Can I put in an order for Christmas?

    gaby@727m2; I don't know if "good" ones are still around, I hope so as I want one. I'm not sure about kids though, maybe they know of them, but have never seen one, it's all electronics these days. so much has been lost in the leap toward technology.


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