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Cozy Baker, RIP

A lady named Cozy Baker died this week. “Cozy Who?” you might ask. I doubt that most folks here would ever have heard of her. But to a small universe of artists and appreciators, she was a grande dame, a patron, a saint, a goddess — and even better, a bright, creative, and generous spirit. Cozy Baker founded the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society and is the person most responsible for the modern revival of the kaleidoscope as an artform. She wrote a number of books (including the world’s first-ever book on kaleidoscopes) and encouraged both artists and collectors. Today, ‘scopes are used to treat autistic and hyperactive children, to help cancer patients, and to deepen meditation.

Hazel Cozette Baker died of ovarian cancer in her 80s. I never met her, and that’s my loss.

I mention her here not just because I think kaleidoscopes are works of wonder. She’s worthy of honor even if kaleidoscopes to you are nothing but amusing toys, and even if you think she was nothing but some privileged lady with too much time on her hands. It’s the reason she “got into” kaleidoscopes that matters. Her son was killed by a drunken driver, and eventually she used her grief to transform her own, and others’, lives.

The things we can do with grief, anger, despair, frustration, and depression when we creatively work through them …


  1. Brian
    Brian October 22, 2010 8:54 am


    You might find this story about Hope Bourne’s life interesting. Also, be sure to look at the pictures (you need to hit the Next button to see the 2nd and 3rd photos) with Hope and her weapons.

    I enjoy your columns and blog.

  2. naturegirl
    naturegirl October 23, 2010 5:25 pm

    Kaleidoscopes are color junkies best treat!

    I’m amazed at how long they’ve been around, and intrigued/awestruck at how they’re made….didn’t know about the autism/health aid connection, thanks for that tid bit of info….

  3. Diane Schwartz
    Diane Schwartz November 13, 2010 8:39 am

    I am a kaleidoscope junkie and am proud to admit it. It’s a non-drug users method to be in an altered state. Thank you Cozy for reigniting this art form and for encouraging talented artists to reach new heights A great woman whose tragedy changed so many lives.

  4. Karen
    Karen December 18, 2010 5:11 pm

    I was a neighbor of Cozy Baker’s. She was indeed an awesome “lady” and her kaleidoscope collection was spectacular. She welcomed tourists in to see them as well as neighborhood children and families. I met her on several social occasions and had the privilege of touring her home during the Christmas holidays a few years ago.

  5. Claire
    Claire December 19, 2010 12:52 pm

    Karen, thank you. This blog is such a quiet, out-of-the-way place that I’d never have expected a neighbor of Cozy Baker’s to turn up here. I’ll always regret not having the opportunity to meet her. Thanks for confirming that she was as neat a person as she always seemed to be.

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