Friday, July 5, 2013

Turn, turn, turn

“Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope 
-- a slight change, and all patterns alter.” 

-- Sharon Salzberg 

Kaleidoscope self portrait 7-5-13

"Our days are a kaleidoscope.
Every instant a change takes place.
New harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations of every sort."

-- Henry Ward Beecher

Kaleidoscope self portrait (2) 7-5-13

“There are patterns which emerge in one's life, 
circling and returning anew, 
an endless variation of a theme.” 

-- Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel's Chosen

Kaleidoscope self portrait (3) 7-5-13

“Perhaps we can recognize our way out of patterns 
rather than repeating our way out of them.” 

--Patti Digh, Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up,
Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally

My paternal grandparents didn't have many toys for me to play with.

What they had was a little collection of vintage toys leftover from my father's 1940s childhood. 

The toys lived on a bookshelf behind my grandfather's recliner: a barrel of monkeys, a ViewMaster, a floppy cloth clown that did flips on a wind-up wire contraption, a metal Slinky, jacks, a red and black musical thing that was kind of like a horn but with piano-style keys, a jack-in-the-box, and a kaleidoscope.

The kaleidoscope was my favorite, by far.

It was just a simple cardboard tube with an eye-hole in one end, and a few colorful bits of plastic in the other. Nothing fancy. Until you held it to the light and the magic happened. 

It was like a montage of intricate stained glass, or jewels, but all in shatters. Turning the tube made the shards tumble and fall and reassemble and morph and bloom and collapse. I was captivated.

"Grandpa, look at this one!" I'd say, holding my breath, carefully trying to pass the kaleidoscope to him without disrupting the little miracle that had assembled itself inside. But by the time he held it up to his eye, the pattern had shifted. He oooh'd and aaaah'd, but at another view, no doubt just as marvelous.

During my 2012 "No Day Without Art" 365 days project, I did a little research and learned how to make my own kaleidoscopes. On the outside, they don't look like much. I make them from cardboard mailing tubes or PVC pipe. Inside is an arrangement of cheap craft mirrors duct-taped together, and at the business end, a handful of plastic beads, marbles, plastic bits -- whatever I can find. They cost pennies to make.

I've made several, mostly for me, but I've given a few to my most special friends. I love that moment when they hold their new kaleidoscope to the light and look through it for the first time. They see something magical made from almost nothing. 
The thing about looking into a kaleidoscope is that only one person can look through it at a time. You can't really share the experience. So I figured out how to take pictures through my kaleidoscopes so that I can capture the fleeting images before they shift, so that I can share them.

As an experiment, for today's face I tucked a tiny self-portrait in with the beads and marbles of my newest kaleidoscope (look closely). I could have shared a hundred views, but that seemed like overkill, so I am only sharing three.
It's my first kaleidoscope that looks back.