Scott Cole has been designing innovative beautiful copper, brass and aluminum encased and etched kaleidoscopes for over 25 years. He has shown his work in galleries and museums throughout the world and has been featured on television, as well as in numerous books and articles. Scott has taught at the John Campbell Folk School for over two decades, and also in numerous states throughout the country, and even in Thailand.
Cole was 36 at the time, a counselor in private practice working from his home in Charlotte, N.C. Drained by helping people solve their problems, he was searching for balance in his life. “There were times when it was all head and emotional stuff,” he remembers.”I needed time for using my hands and body.” He studied how to build log houses and learned about making stained glass.Then he heard about a course on kaleidoscope art, paid $8 and signed up… this was the beginning of a new career.
Cole never thought of himself as artistic. He grew up in Toledo, Ohio, the son of a lawyer father and homemaker mother. After a disastrous first year at Duke University, he transferred to Ohio Wesley he graduated, then got a doctorate in educational psychology and counseling from the University of Toledo. When he returned to North Carolina in 1976, he had a job teaching counseling in a master’s program at UNCC which he quit a few years later to go into private practice. Cole said his practice did well, but the intensity left him exhausted at the end of every day.
In the fall of 1982, he started signing up for art courses at Central Piedmont Community College. That’s when he discovered kaleidoscopes. The more he created, the more he found to like the art form. Cole first tried selling his kaleidoscopes in 1983 at Charlotte’s annual Festival in the Park, not only did people buy the ones he brought, he had to stay up all night making more. Soon, galleries as far away as Japan started carrying his work and the commissions rolled in. His new career blossomed.
Cole also teaches the art of Kaleidoscope, “spreading the kaleidoscope message.” Over the years, he has offered seminars from his garage, as well as in New York, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Mississippi – even Thailand. In North Carolina, he spends so much time as an instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown. Cole believes he’s had a more positive effect on people through courses than he ever had at UNCC or as a counselor.