Just posted a new kaleidoscope -- an "executive" kaleidoscope crafted in Butternut from Pennsylvania, on the etsy site.
The object chamber is a 10k gold plated brass cell containing both a clear lens and a frosted lens. Glass “gems” are in a cell between the two lenses. The object chamber rotates on a rubber gasket. The kaleidoscope is long enough to allow you to hold it in one hand while rotating the object chamber on the end with the other hand, creating countless beautiful “kaleidoscopic” patterns to view. The mirror assembly inside the body of the 'scope uses the best quality "front surface mirrors".
A new oil wand kaleidoscope in Bocote wood was just posted on my etsy site. This one is handcrafted in Bocote wood (also known as Mexican Rosewood) from Mexico, Central, and South America. A very rich, dark, variegated wood. Has a "red" colored oil wand.
The latest Cigar Box, Image Wheel Kaleidoscope has been posted on my etsy page. This one uses a very colorful "La Gianna Havana, Honduran Vintage Limited Reserve" box. Like the other cigar box 'scopes, this one is crafted from a used cigar box, so it has a few minor nicks. Still very colorful and a great conversation piece.
I have just posted on the "etsy" site a new design of a "midi" kaleidoscope. This kaleidoscope is crafted in a laminated piece consisting of Wenge, from West Africa; Red Heart, from Mexico; Pau Amarello (also known as Yellow Heart), from Brazil; and Maple, from New England, USA. The length is similar to, but a bit longer than, a couple of "midi" kaleidoscopes previously posted. The object cell (a tumble cell) on this 'scope is longer and filled with more regular-colored (not 'flameworked') glass pieces. The mirror assembly inside the body of the 'scope is a standard 3-mirror assembly, unlike the 2-mirror assembly of the earlier pieces and uses the best quality "front surface mirrors" . The resulting view is a somewhat darker, as well as "softer" image, when viewed while turning the whole body of the 'scope. A striking view that is slow-moving, yet always changing in a "kaleidoscope" of colors that is a delight to watch.
I have several more of these in progress and will post them as completed.
Just posted a new Cigar Box Kaleidoscope with an Image Wheel. I made about a dozen of them a couple of years ago and thought it was time to make some more. A neighbor down the street gave me the box and, with some copper tubing from the hardware store, voila-- a new 'scope. Fun to make and different to have. I'll be making more in the weeks ahead.
Well, it has been awhile since I made a post. Busy summer with lots going on. However, never fear, kaleidoscope making does get fit in along with other activities.
Below is a new Image Wheel Kaleidoscope crafted in Ancient Kauri wood from New Zealand. The wood is from logs of Kauri wood on North Island of New Zealand that are believed to be well over 50,000 years old. The trees apparently died of natural causes and fell into a bog (swamp) where they were preserved until recently when the bog dried and they re-appeared. The logs are being salvaged and shipped around the world for use by woodworkers. The trees were quite large and much of the wood is being used for tables and large pieces of furniture. However, a dealer in Wisconsin has also made available to American woodworkers smaller pieces suitable for turning. The Kauri wood is a soft, tan, brown wood with delicate graining.
As usual with my kaleidoscopes, I use front surface mirrors and a variety of glass and ceramic "objects" in the image wheel.
In a post back in April, we began a review of the "object center" of kaleidoscopes. The first part discussed image wheel (sometimes termed "tumble" wheel) 'scopes. As noted then, these are my personal favorite. However, many people like a variant on the image wheel which is an oil cell kaleidoscope.
An oil cell 'scope is really just a tumble 'scope with liquid. Instead of having the "objects" or movable pieces simply tumble in a housing, an oil cell has them tumble in "oil" -- a liquid. ("Oil" is a bit of misnomer as glycerin is probably the most common liquid used.) However, the effect is a much more languid, slow-motion visual, which seems to "swirl" more than "tumble". The glycerin is normally in a plastic or glass ampule with the objects, which is tightly sealed to prevent leaks.
The body of an oil cell 'scope is often constructed differently than a tumble 'scope. In many cases, the oil cell is mounted directly, and permanently, in the housing and the whole 'scope is turned to view the movement as opposed to a tumble 'scope which often sees the object cell externally mounted to the body of the 'scope (see examples of my image wheel 'scopes in earlier posts) and only the object cell (wheel) is turned.
As was the case in the previous discussion of image 'scopes, am almost infinite variety of materials can be inserted into the "oil" medium -- rocks, minerals, beads, colored glass, colored plastic, bits of metal, etc. One type that I like uses small sea shells or fragments to continue the "liquid" theme.
(Above are samples of two of the oil cell 'scopes I craft.)
Just posted a listing on etsy for a new full-sized oil wand kaleidoscope in African Coralwood (also known as African Padauk). This is the third in a limited edition of full-sized oil wand kaleidoscopes.
Arguably the most important part of a kaleidoscope is the "object center" -- that is, what it is that one "views" through the eye piece and the mirror configuration.
There are a variety of "object centers" -- oil cell, oil wand, tumble cell, tumble (image wheel), fixed image wheel, etc. I suppose, theoretically, most anything can be "viewed" depending on the design and construction of the kaleidoscope. The ones just mentioned are the most common.
Although all types have their adherents, my personal favorite is a tumble cell or tumble wheel (image wheel). To me, the beauty of them is that you never see the same image twice as the materials inside are constantly tumbling and re-arranging themselves. In addition, you get motion as well as changing images.
One can use a wide variety of materials in a tumble cell/wheel -- fragments of rocks and minerals, gemstones, beads, colored glass, colored plastic, glass ampules with liquid filling which then tumble in the cell, shells, bits of metal, etc. Then, just to make it more interesting, some artists "mix and match" materials to achieve the desired "view". One can even use sand. I designed and crafted a 'scope for a customer in Australia one time that used sand from her favorite beach along with some shell fragments she had collected. It was certainly a unique "view".
Picture of an image wheel kaleidoscope I crafted from reclaimed New Zealand Kauri wood and posted on my web store www.wrightmade.com. (See that site for information on the Kauri wood.)
One type of non-toy kaleidoscope that is not seen very often is one where the tube/body is made of paper or cardboard. (I am excluding the vast body of toy, party-favor, kaleidoscopes so popular for children's birthday parties, etc., which are usually paper/cardboard.)
On occasion, one will see a cardboard kaleidoscope that has been painted, or decorated in some fashion or other. I think some of them are really quite beautiful. I have no experience with how well they hold up from normal wear & tear, however.
Their tubes are designed to be used for polymer clay, painting, beading, whatever, and the component parts are of good quality. Below are some examples from their web site of finished 'scopes using several techniques for finishing the cardboard tube.
(Example of a tube with micro beads)
(Another example, this one using an oil wand.)
(This simple teleidoscope -- a variant on a kaleidoscope -- uses plain wrapping paper to decorate the body.)
As is true with kaleidoscopes in general, there are many variations available for both the artisan and the collector in 'scopes using paper/cardboard as the base of the tube.
Just posted a new mini kaleidoscope crafted in Jobillo wood from Central America. Have not worked with this wood before. It is a rich, tan-brown, with some dark brown stripes in the grain. A very rich, but mostly straight-grained wood. Hope to craft some more pieces in the future from this very nice wood.
In an earlier post, I called attention to one of the best polymer clay kaleidoscopes active today -- Jacqui Smith. Recently I came across two sites with some other artists who work in polymer clay and want to bring them to your attention.
Christy Sherman, from Rhode Island, does some really fascinating work with clay. Her site is
The essential heart of any kaleidoscope is the mirror assembly. In an earlier post we discussed the desirability of using front surface mirrors. In this post, the focus will be on mirror configuration.
Probably the most common mirror assembly is a three-mirror assembly, where the mirrors are equal-sized and arranged to form a triangle with sides of equal length and internal angles that are all 60 degrees. From there, the configuration is almost limitless and dependent on the artistic design of the artist/craftsman who is fashioning the 'scope. Mirror width and angle can be varied to meet most any design.
From this most common arrangement, one can find kaleidoscopes with two-mirror assemblies, four-mirror assemblies, twin-two mirror assemblies, and, probably, other arrangements, although I am not aware of these. The different arrangements, sizes, angles produce vastly different images to delight the viewer.
Probably the best description of mirror configuration with some excellent diagrams and pictures of the resulting "views" is the Kaleidoscope Collector web site at:
As you look at various kaleidoscopes be sure an inquire as to the number and arrangement of the mirrors. Most of my scopes use the common three-mirror assembly with the mirrors at 60 degree angles, but occasionally I do use other techniques -- primarily the two-mirror assembly.
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.