The heart of any kaleidoscope is the mirror assembly inside the holder. Actually, most any highly reflective surface could serve as a "mirror assembly" in a kaleidoscope -- e.g. a highly polished, reflective metal surface.
However, nothing works quite as well as glass mirrors and, so, mirrors of varying quality are most widely used.
When an ordinary mirror is used in a kaleidoscope, light must pass
through a layer of glass before being reflected by the silvering on the back of
the mirror. Since glass is not perfectly clear or perfectly flat, some
attenuation of the image results, along with “ghost images” caused by
reflection off of the surface of the glass. These undesirable effects are
compounded in a kaleidoscope mirror assembly and cause the viewing field’s outermost edges to dim, blur, and become full
of interference lines.
By using aluminized front surface mirrors these problems are
solved. Front surface mirror is made by vacuum depositing a highly reflective
aluminum surface coating onto the FRONT of the glass. The light
then reflects off the aluminized coating and does not pass through the glass.
The high reflectivity (approximately 95%) and the absence of ghost images
permits a brilliant image which remains clear and bright throughout the viewing
field. The resulting “hall of mirrors”
effect results in images and colors that are much sharper and more intense that
would be possible using ordinary mirror.
To obtain that high quality image, I routinely use front surface mirrors in my scopes.
Professional woodworker specializing in small-scale wood turning on a lathe. I work primarily with exotic woods from around the world and "Dymondwood" a laminated wood product that is dyed a variety of colors and provides a visually appealing end-product. Most of my turning is of kaleidoscopes, desk accessories, cutlery, back scratchers, key rings, etc. I market on the web and wholesale and consignment.