Pat Seaman

Pat and Rod


In 1966 Ernst Trova had a show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. At the time I was a student member and an art major in college. In the bookstore they sold a cardboard scope with Trova’s signature androgynous profile cutouts. I was fascinated by it and despite my college student budget, parted with ten dollars to have it as my own. Little did I know that that would be the start of a life-long passion/addiction.


I carried the Trova with me to college parties and shared it with family and friends. I was fascinated by the possibilities of the kaleidoscope as an art form.


I understand that the popularity of the Trova Falling Man Scope spurred the Museum of Modern Art to commission Judith Karilitz to develop other scopes for their gift shop. From that new beginning, what a magical world of scopes has been created!


I first met Cozy Baker in 1984, when she was writing her first book and Eric Snitzer suggested she come to California to meet me. At that time I was buying almost every scope I could find. That soon changed! But those old scopes have become old treasures to me. I do have a scope nursing home where ailing old scopes go. I know I should just part with them but…they have brought me so much joy over the years. Someday they may get a mirror transplant and a new lease on life.


I really don’t know how many scopes I now have. Many would say too many! I like Judith Paul’s attitude—“excess is only the beginning”!  To some extent it depends on how you count. Do toy scopes count? How about light kits? Where is the delineation between light toys, visual oddity and kaleidoscope? Another passion of mine is optical illusions. Is a scope an optical illusion or some optical illusions scopes?


In the late 1980’s I invited local kaleidoscope artists to my home each year to discuss new ideas for scopes and how some of the old ideas could be created adapted in quality materials and craftsmanship. Those meetings yielded some of the pictures of artists by my late husband, Paul Seaman, which Cozy used in her books.


It would appear that a scope must have 1) a mirror system (or at least reflective surfaces) 2) an object case and 3) a repetitive pattern formed by the reflections.


When you have multiple wands, orbits (marbles) and varied light sources do they count as part of the collection?


Do the books about kaleidoscopes and optics count as part of my collection? Do copies of the historically significant (and otherwise) articles from magazines and newspapers count? Do photos of past Brewster conventions count as part of my collection? How about the programs, brochures and business cards of past artists? I especially value the original newspaper articles in the Washington newspapers about the first Brewster Convention at the Strathmore in 1985 and the original poster.


Does this sound like I could have my own museum? Oh yes, says my husband and family! I even have saved the sales brochures of the 1980’s and 1990’s from galleries like “The Light Opera”


Now I bet no one will ever ask me again how many scopes I have! A lot of my collection is posted on my website . Also on my website are pictures of my use of kaleidoscopes in my wedding.


In 2004 Rod and I decided to use kaleidoscopes in our wedding. Each table had a kaleidoscope from my collection as the centerpiece. Each guest took home a teleidoscope favor. Of course, David Kalish’s Wedding scope was on the head table. See how many of the scopes you can identify from the website.


I don’t buy many scopes now. My goal is not to just add numbers to my collection but to find something new. I like a scope which has a balance between the exterior design and the interior image. It is not easy to create an exterior form that is so exciting sculpturally so that it can stand on its own merit even if it was not a scope.


My favorite scope is always the last one I bought! I don’t have a favorite artist however I have more of Carolyn Bennett’s scopes than any other artist. I have purchased more of David Kalish’s scopes but have given them as gifts. When people visit my collection I usually show them first Marc Tickle’s Ubiquity and then Janet Chesnick’s brass scope with 5 mirror systems and two dichroic wheels. After that I show them Sherry Moser’s Journey. Those three give the novice viewer a very brief introduction to joy and magic of scopes.


There are two scopes I wish I had bought – Van Dyke Series II by Craig Musser and Bill O’Connor and Ice Cave by the Falconer’s


My adult friends think my collection is an oddity. Kids love it! Many ask me to show parts of my collection to school classes and senior facilities. Some think scopes are out of synch with academic aspects of my personality. Perhaps the academics are out of synch with my creative side. Probably they are all part of the kaleidoscopic design we all have to our personalities. And don’t all aspects make the design more interesting?


There are many other aspects to my design too. I am currently retired from 33 years of teaching art, computer applications and special education. I still teach a couple courses a year at Chapman University. For years I have hosted gingerbread parties to benefit Habitat for Humanity. As I mentioned before, I have lots of fun with optical illusions over the years. The bubble toy collection and kite collection help fill my toy closet. From age of five I have been sewing. Currently I make embellished jackets and vests. I am learning to operate my new embroidery machine. I love to tend my flowers, herbs and vegetables too. But anyone who knows me at all, knows that kaleidoscopes are my core passion. I am never without Deborah Healy’s scope around my neck.


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