Jenie Yolland Glass Artist

Kaleidoscope Fun

These items have been made after we recently spent some time playing with a new type of kaleidoscope…they remind us that some of us are just big kids.

The shapes and reflections of the light in the kaleidoscope are magical and to remember the enchanting experience, I produced these fun works.

Just a reminder that a kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, coloured objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass.

As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the reflection off of the mirrors.

The term kaleidoscope was coined in 1817 by Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster, it is derived from the Ancient Greek καλός (kalos), “beautiful, beauty”, εἶδος (eidos), “that which is seen: form, shape”and σκοπέω (skopeō), “to look to, to examine”,hence “observer of beautiful forms.”

This first kaleidoscope piece includes about 10 different transparent glass colours.  I love how the light colours the table underneath.

Because I love blue so much I made a Kaleidoscope that is just a combination of blues.

One of the other loves of my life is Cabernet Sauvignon Wine….and I made a Kaleidoscope which reminds me of some magnificent wine I enjoyed recently in the Limestone Coast in the southern part of South Australia.

Cabernet Kaleidoscope by Jenie Yolland

Here’s the next one I made which we call Lavandula Kaleidoscope….tell me which one is your favourite.

Lavandula Kaleidoscope bowl by Jenie Yolland

Another picture of some of my kaleidoscope pieces.

A Kaleidoscope operates on the principle of multiple reflection, where several mirrors are together. Typically there are three rectangular lengthwise mirrors. Setting the mirrors at a 60-degree so that it forms a triangle. 60 degree angle apart from each other creates eight duplicate images of the objects, six at 60°, and 2 at 90°. As the tube is rotated, the tumbling of the coloured objects presents varying colours and patterns. Arbitrary patterns shows up as a beautiful symmetrical pattern created by the anreflections. A two-mirror kaleidoscope yields a pattern or patterns isolated against a solid black background, while the three-mirror (closed triangle) type yields a pattern that fills the entire field. For a deeper discussion see: reflection symmetry.

Modern kaleidoscopes are made of brass tubes, stained glass, wood, steel, gourds or almost any material an artist can use. The part containing objects to be viewed is called the ‘object chamber’ or ‘object cell’. Object cells may contain almost any material. Sometimes the object cell is filled with a liquid so the items float and move through the object cell in response to a slight movement from the viewer.

Kaleidoscope by Jenie Yolland


Sir David Brewster began work leading towards invention of the kaleidoscope in 1815 when he was conducting experiments on light polarization but it was not patented until two years later. 

His initial design was a tube with pairs of mirrors at one end, pairs of translucent disks at the other, and beads between the two. Brewster chose renowned achromatic lens developer Philip Carpenter as the sole manufacturer of the kaleidoscope in 1817.

Kaleidoscope by Jenie Yolland

It proved to be a massive success with two hundred thousand kaleidoscopes sold in London and Paris in just three months. Realising that the company could not meet this level of demand, Brewster requested permission from Carpenter on 17 May 1818 for the device to be made by other manufacturers, to which he agreed.

Initially intended as a scientific tool, the kaleidoscope was later copied as a toy. Brewster later believed he would make money from this popular invention;

however, a fault in his patent application allowed others to copy his invention.

There you have my new series, all these plates are only 15cm x 15cm which is 6inches by 6inches.  (I can make these works in almost any other size you’d like.  Just email me to talk to me about what you’d like.)

I can see that now I need to add some more colour combinations, green kaleidoscope, sunrise-sunset kaleidoscope.

I wonder if you can think of any other combinations that I should produce.

This entry was published on November 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm. It’s filed under Art glass platters and plates, Fused Glass Gift and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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