I’m happy that many of you enjoy the crown of Eawas because really, a six-point crown is one of the things I most love to design.

Easwas crown

Six-point crowns, involving the interlocking geometry of stars and hexagons, feature on some of my favourite hats – like Snawheid


or Peerie Flooers

Peerie Flooers

Because of their shared pleasures of circles, symmetry and repeating patterns, when I’m designing hat crowns, I often find myself thinking about the kaleidoscope . . .

1817 Kaleidoscope. David Brewster / Philip Carpenter. Science Museum.

. . . the simple tubular device, which delights the human eye’s love of symmetry and pattern. The kaleidoscope was invented by Scottish optical pioneer,  David Brewster, in 1815.

David Brewster with his stereoscope, which he invented. Science Museum

The continually-curious and inventive Brewster was fascinated by the reflective effect of a candle, viewed down the length of two mirrors which had been placed at right angles to each other. He later discovered that truly beautiful, and continually changing, symmetrical patterns might be created by  simply placing the angled mirrors in a small tube, at the end of which was a chamber filled with light reflecting (or diffusing) objects. 

image from 1817 Brewster kaleidoscope. Science Museum.

Brewster’s portable pattern-viewing device proved to be immediately, ridiculously popular: before he could patent his kaleidoscope, over two-hundred thousand copies had been made and sold (at no benefit at all to its inventor).

image from 1817 Brewster kaleidoscope. Science Museum.

Nineteenth-century folk clearly found the kaleidoscope’s combination of repeating patterns, circular shapes, and reflective symmetry deeply fascinating.

I find it fascinating too!

image from 1817 Brewster kaleidoscope. Science Museum.

A while ago, Tom and I decided to have a go at making our own kaleidoscope. Like Brewster’s original device, ours involved a short tube, some angled mirrors, and a few wee objects to reflect. I personally found that making the kaleidoscope was a very interesting and thought-provoking process!

. . .and Tom very much enjoyed the kaleidoscope’s image-making opportunities.

We had enormous fun experimenting and creating creating beautiful aesthetic effects from very ordinary tiny things – a few beads, some scraps of cut paper.

The kaleidoscope we made was from an inexpensive kit, intended for a child

What fun! Making the kaleidoscope, and experimenting with it was one of those interesting experiences of really getting to think through things.

And my wee kaleidoscope has certainly inspired me to think differently about pattern repeats, reflections, symmetry, stars and hexagons

. . . and hat crowns

Whatever it is that you are making, I hope that you have fun today.