I just decided to throw them both together, because they are among my favourite toys (along with bubbles and marbles, which I did indeed lose some time ago!).
I remember as a kid gazing into the cheap plastic and cardboard kaleidoscopes that would come into my life from time to time. The gorgeous patterns were mesmerizing. Sometimes I would find a particularly beautiful pattern and try to keep it, only to discover – and rediscover – that kaleidoscopes are touchy and unforgiving of even the slightest movement.
The kaleidoscope was invented by Sir David Brewster in 1815 as a scientific tool, but a flaw in his 1817 patent application enabled others to copy the design and it quickly became popular as a toy. Originally manufactured by Phillip Carpenter, an achromatic lens developer, the production was given to other manufacturers when they realized that they could not keep up with demand. Over 200,000 were sold in London and Paris in a three-month period.
|a kaleidoscopic image, not an image from a kaleidoscope.|
Today, most kaleidoscopes are mass-produced from inexpensive materials, but hand-crafted kaleidoscopes made from wood or metal can also be purchased – if one is willing to pay the price. Some of these art pieces can sell for thousands of dollars.
|A teleidoscopic image from a teleidoscope|
Kaleidoscopes are not to be confused with Teleidoscopes, which are fitted with a clear ball on one end and used to form kaleidoscopic patterns from objects outside the instrument, rather than from items installed as part of it. (I use one for matching yarn colours when I’m designing patterns.)
Kites are another of my favourite toys. Ever since I first saw Mary Poppins when I was a very young child, kites have held a certain fascination for me. And every time I see – or fly – one, I cannot help but think of Dick van Dyke, one of my favourite actors of all time. He never fails to put a smile on my face. And neither do kites. (Except maybe when they crash and break.)
|Kites originated in China and this modern-day example shows|
how creative and colourful they can be.
From the simple diamond kite with the ribbon tail to the more elaborate models, kites make my heart soar. I have a tiger kite that hangs in my living room. The tiger’s body is paper mache and the sails are hand-painted. I’m too chicken to take it out and fly it, though. I’ll stick to my bright and cheerful diamond kite that I bought last year. And now that spring is here, I’m hoping to get out soon and see how high I can get it to fly!
Kites have been around for nearly 3000 years. Invented in China by philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban, they were originally made out of silk and bamboo. The earliest recorded use of paper kites was in 549 C.E. when one was used as a message in a rescue mission.
|I'd be too chicken to fly this kite, too!|
|Karen and Ellie|
Karen makes a damn fine pirate, too!
|There's no other way to turn 50 than|
to dress up in pirate garb with your
best friends (me, Karen & Darcy)