Kaleidoscopes: gazing into a tube and seeing the most wonderful abstract shapes and colours. It’s one of those toys that I really love, but never did I realise how much more there is to see (beyond the ‘scope!). I just wanted to share a bit of history, but as soon as I started browsing, I sort of lost myself. Or should I say.. found myself in virtual Japanese kaleidoscopes art schools.. The internet can be such an interesting place! There are many different types/variations of kaleidoscopes (dry, ‘oily’, or marblescopes anyone?) and all (kaleidoscope) artists are giving these “toys” a beautiful, unique twist. Here is a round up of some of the things I found. ^^
Kaleidoscopes: A little bit of history
In 1816, Scottish physicist David Brewster invented the kaleidoscope. Many say he was a genius, having built a telescope at the age of 10(!) and entering university at the age of 12. Brewster named his invention after the Greek words: kalos or beautiful, eidos or form, and scopos or watcher. Kaleidoscope: a beautiful form watcher! Brewster’s kaleidoscope was a tube containing loose pieces of colored glass and other pretty objects, reflected by mirrors or glass lenses set at angles, that created patterns when viewed through the end of the tube.
He brew up a storm and many others followed him in making kaleidoscopes, but it wasn’t until the year 1985 that kaleidoscopes got more popular as works of art, instead of inexpensive toys.
Types of Kaleidoscopes
There are many variations for each type, but I’ll try to summarise it! ^^
- Teleidoscopes: these have an orb at the end, and use your environment to create patterns.
- Marblescopes: a bit like above, but with marbles (which are sometimes handmade, and sometimes even contain liquid!)
- Dry-cell kaleidoscopes: filled with colourful bits and pieces that tumble as you turn them.
- Oil-cell: filled with moving pieces in cells/object cases, in oil.
- Wand kaleidoscopes: have a distinctive wand, gravity does the work for you!
- Wheel kaleidoscopes: these have one, two or more wheels at the end, which you can turn, and are sometimes also interchangeable.
- Turntable kaleidoscopes: these don’t quite fit into any of the other categories. They feature a tube with mirrors suspended over an object that turns or spins.
See below some of my favourite finds and links!
Promising wooden/floral kaleidoscope by Amber Kaleidoscopes. Hope they are available, their paper kaleidoscope kits look great too!
No orbs, marbles or oil to be found here! Carol and Tom Paretti made this interesting kaleidoscope with ribbons. Roll it up like a yoyo, with its appropriate name Slow Yo ^^
This is a beautiful example of a turntable kaleidoscope: pointing at an object that turns or spins. This one is made by Tom Thresher.
And to finish off the lenghty post: kaleidoscopes meet Hayao Miyazaki? That’s the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw these super adorable pet-kaleidoscopes by Kobayashi Ayahana! Who, by the way, might even be my favourite kaleidoscope-maker at the moment!
Here a few more works by Ayahana. So beautifully made, wish I could have them all!
I did leave out some great classics and talented artists in this field, but I hope that this post will make you look into the works of different artists (quite literally!) Kaleidoscopes come in so many different forms and shapes on the outside, but most importantly is what’s in it! The most simple-looking tubes can have the most amazing patterns, such as these mandala kaleidoscopes by Randy and Shelley Knapp. Mind blowing!