One of my favorite memories from childhood is the inexpensive cardboard kaleidoscope that used to arrive in my stocking at Christmas, or that I could save my pennies and nickels for and buy at the local dime store (yes, I am that old!).
I’d not really thought about them for several years until I discovered a digital program that would create kaleidoscopic art. Even more sophisticated and detailed than the beads rolling in the bottom of a tube, I have created more of them than I’d care to count. Yet it just wasn’t quite the same! To my surprise as I browsed the toy aisles, the kaleidoscopes that used to be so readily available are much harder to come by these days!
Finally, on a short vacation to visit friends in Florida last March, I discovered one in a gift shop full of fun ticky-tacky souvenirs that I’ve seen in those shops since I was a kid. An appropriate fate for something so old-fashion and low tech I suppose. I was ever-so excited to find them, although they weren’t exactly as I remembered.
These had large, clear, dome-like lenses on the end of the cardboard tube and you didn’t rotate the piece on the end to change your design, you rolled the entire tube around. But it somewhat satisfied my quest and I happily paid an outrageous price to bring one home with me. It immediately took up residence in my art studio.
Although different than I remembered it’s fun to look through because, as you are viewing the patterns it creates, the background you’ve pointed it at is part of the design. It was especially fun during the summer as flowers bloomed and into fall as the leaves changed. I’m waiting for a nice blanket of snow to see how brilliant the design will be on an all-white background!
I continued to cruise toy aisles and other spots where I thought I might discover a kaleidoscope but didn’t have any further sightings until a trip up to Michigan late this summer. Again, in another tourist gift shop, I spied them. LOTS of them! In different sizes and shapes. Kaleidoscope nirvana!! I passed over the odd design I already had at home and looked through each and every different color, size and design they had. This time I bought TWO! One, pretty much exactly as I remembered from childhood, followed by a shorter version that had a sort of “stained glass” effect on the end cover instead of the traditional semi-opaque white film covering.
They have taken up residence with the first one in the studio. I play with them occasionally, share them with young visitors, grandkids and anyone else that seems remotely interested. When I purchased the first of the three I had tried to take photos through it using my point & shoot camera. The attempt was less than successful. 😦 I don’t recall if I tried to use the phone I had at the time but inspiration hit last week that, since I’d recently upgraded, perhaps my newest smart phone would work. I won’t say it was the easiest task, and the percentage of useable images was probably right around 50% BUT, when it did work – Wow!
Holding both the kaleidoscope and the phone in my left hand (and trying to keep them lined up in the proper position) while trying to turn the tubes and push the image capture button with the other hand was a feat in itself. I tried it standing, sitting, laying, propped up and a few poses in between that I can’t even describe! But I really didn’t mind the contorting, once I’m in the “photo zone” I rarely pay attention to much else but the images I’m creating.
After my photo-making craving had been satisfied I began to weed through all the images, deleting the ones that didn’t turn out well, along with several duplicates. Since they were already in my phone I decided that I’d do some digital enhancements to my favorites before I uploaded them. In addition to the eight that I’m sharing with you today I have another eight that I’ll share in the near future.
I hope that you have enjoyed the images, my story and perhaps a few memories of your own as you read this! I’d love to hear about them, regardless if they are about a kaleidoscope or some other favorite childhood memory – be sure to leave me a comment. 🙂
Until the next time just picture me browsing the “retro” toys, on the lookout for the next piece to add to my collection!