ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Magic Of Kaleidoscopes

Updated on February 25, 2010

The object at hand is simple, elegant. It's a chamber, carved out of wood, with an enclosed case at one end that's filled with feathers and beads. You hold it up to your eye and, voila, beautiful colors and ever-changing patterns appear. You can't not look.

The unfolding images are calming. They feel special, since you realize they are one of a kind. You wonder: Is this gadget a form of art? A science project? Or simply a kid's trinket?

Which is what we love about these mirror-encased tubes. They fill us with wonder, so simple in concept yet the patterns are infinitesimal. Kaleidoscopes can make a bunch of egg yolks and cigarette butts look good. Kaleidoscopes aren't just a child's play toy: They are a wedding of science and art, mind and heart.

The crafted chambers also are gaining popularity, both as an art collectible and historical artifact. "They can cost as little as 50 cents or as much as $25,000. They are kept in museums, yet are sold in craft fairs.

Sir David Brewster of Scotland invented the kaleidoscope in 1816. A scientist, writer and inventor, Brewster was responsible for the early design of the Fresnel lens (used in lighthouses around the world) and binocular cameras as well. He coined the word "kaleidoscope," from the Greek meaning "kalos" (beautiful), "eidos" (form) and "skopein" (to view).

By the late 1880s, kaleidoscopes were a legitimate pastime, earning prominent positions in Victorian parlors. But as the electronic age of radio and TV advanced, kaleidoscopes fell out of favor, and by the 1950s, they had been reduced to a child's whimsy, often made of cardboard.

The 1970s brought a resurgence, and today, kaleidoscopes are an important part of the American arts and crafts movement. Glass blowers, woodworkers, ceramists, jewelers, welders, collage artists, miniaturists and sculptors fashion the scopes in all shapes and sizes. Mirrors number from one to nine; point count in the star pattern fluctuates from two to 20. The resulting mandalas become inspiration for clothing designers, quilters, architects, photographers and filmmakers. Most recently, computer screen savers are touting the magnificent designs.

The Scoop on Scopes

There are five major types of kaleidoscopes: teleidoscopes, cell, wheel, marble or sphere, and projection. The endpiece (cell, wheel, etc.) determines the type. Sir David Brewster considered the teleidoscope the "purest" form, since it is not limited to the objects in front of it. In other words, this type of scope allows the viewer to look into the mirrored tube through a lens that fragments the world into symmetrical patterns.

The cell scope has an enclosed case at the end of the tube, which can be filled with dry, tumbling pieces or liquid, floating pieces.

The wheel scope is very popular. At the end of the scope, a wheel is attached and turned, allowing endless permutations. The wheel can be made of glass, attached to the scope or made of found objects, which sit on a separate tray.

The marble scope uses marbles to create images. And, finally, the projection scope incorporates slide projectors, television screens, videos and computers to produce the image.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)