The Glass kaleidoscope.

abstract: home made glass kaleidoscope, traditional design, easily made without special materials and yields stunning results
copyright: none claimed, copyleft...this article and designs may be freely copied and used as you see fit
author: Ralph Klimek 2008
artisan: Ralph Klimek ,Melbourne 1990

This is a an old and classical design.  The German true glass kaleidoscope was a precious object that my sister owned. When I was very ill, she let me look through it, and I thought it was very nice and very comforting as it distracted me from my measles induced fever.  Then one day she wanted to improve it, the little glass pieces went everywhere and were consigned to the bin.  All the toy devices  available for years afterwards were horrible plastic contraptions that demonstrated the principle, but the performance was sadly lacking and were not ever like that marvelous old glass imagery again.

The human eye brain combination deeply appreciates simple symmetry and in combination with strong primary colors and clear imaging, that only true glass can supply.

As I learned to cut glass, I revisited  kaleidoscope design, and presented here are the fruits of this re-discovery in the hopes that toy manufacturers replicate these very old ideas.

The glass skeleton was was the first prototype. The cylindrical units were cut from second hand glass with the circle cutter as described on another page. The cylindrical units have a double glass shard chamber with red, green and blue glass shards, the double chamber causes random overlap resulting in a larger number of displayed colors as they mix. I used originally red,green and blue glass, not really understanding that I should be using yellow, cyan and magenta. However these colors are not readily available in transparent glass, only as translucent material. Good yellow glass can only be achieved with Uranium ( yes really!) as the pigment. Ancient yellow glass used pitchblende, the original uranium ore. Good clear yellow glass is unobtainable.

The cylinders are 100mm storm water PVC plumbing material and assembled with silicone adhesive.
The mirrors were cut from 2mm mirror tile stock, the cheapest way of buying mirror material. The thinner the mirror the clearer the high order images are.  The best diffuser is true frosted glass, beaded glass is nice, but diffuse frosted glass , subjectively, gives a more pleasing result.

The mark 2 has 2 shard chambers with the shards confined by the cylindrical tube.

The pictures were taken by poking the camera into the eyepiece, so the image is nowhere near as pleasing as the real thing.

The colored glass can be purchased in small sheets from stained glass window repairers or art and craft shops, it is not costly.

The Mark3 design will be done with frosted glass diffuser and a right angle triangle mirror cell giving
4 fold, 6 fold and 12 fold symmetry in the one unit.

Great treatment for simple depression!

mark 2 cylindrical triangular kaleidoscopemark 2 cylindrical triangular kaleidoscope with diffusermark 2 images
prototype skeletonshard chamber and diffuserprototype skeleton
mark 1 images, single chambermark 1 images, single chambermark 1 images, single chamber
shard chamber and diffusermark 1 images, single chamber

see also , my page on how to cut glass,  
see also, homepage

fixed formatting , email sig, links , Fri Feb 26 13:31:17 EST 2010