Though it has often been reported that kaleidoscopes have been around since the time of ancient Greece, the modern idea of a kaleidoscope has been credited to a Scottish inventor named David Brewster. In 1816, Brewster came up with the idea of the kaleidoscope as an excellent scientific method of studying light reflection, refraction, and polarization; he had his idea patented, but unfortunately, due to the poor execution of the patent, his idea was easily copied by those who saw an opportunity for profit by selling kaleidoscopes as toys, rather than the scientific tools that they were originally invented to be.
At its simplest, a kaleidoscope is a hollow tube with two or more mirrors arranged lengthwise inside the tube; different-colored bits of glass, beads, plastics or other objects are placed at the larger end of the tube. This end of the kaleidoscope is then held up to the light, thus enabling the viewer to see and change the different configurations that the colored objects make inside the tube, with the help of the glass. Kaleidoscopes became very popular as toys during the Victorian Era, with the more elaborate kaleidoscopes being made of materials such as wooden pedestals and glass beads. This popularity was revived during the 1970s, especially in the United States.
It is easy enough to make your own home-made kaleidoscope. Once you have made the body, the only thing left to do is to attach the kaleidoscope lens. Here are the steps on how to attach the kaleidoscope lens:
- Trace triangle mirror. The first step is to trace the end of the triangular (or whatever shape your mirror piece is) mirror piece onto a piece of black paper or cardboard. Be sure to do this before you insert the mirror piece into the tube. Place the end of the mirror piece on the cardboard, and trace around it with a pencil.
- Putting it together. Assemble your kaleidoscope body by inserting the mirror piece into the tube, and attaching the end lens to one end of the kaleidoscope.
- Aligning the pieces. Lay the open end of your kaleidoscope onto the piece of black cardboard, making sure that the triangle which you have traced out is at the exact center.
- Cardboard tracing. Once the tube has been aligned to the cardboard, start tracing around the tube with a pencil. Take the tube off the cardboard, and cut the circular tracing out with a pair of scissors.
- Triangle cut-out. Once the circle has been cut out, hollow out the triangular center by tracing the triangle with a craft knife or a paper cutter. Poke out the triangle center and discard. Keep the circular cutout with the triangular hole.
- Choose your method of attachment. Once the circular cutout has been made, it is time to put glue onto the remaining open end of your kaleidoscope. You can use PVC glue, a glue gun, or any bonding agent that can effectively attach your lens piece to the end of the kaleidoscope.
- Installing the lens. Place the black cardboard onto the open end of the kaleidoscope, making sure to align the triangular cutout with the triangular mirror piece. Now, line up the lens piece to the end of the cardboard tube, and press firmly onto the tube to allow the glue to bond the two pieces together.
Attaching a lens piece to your kaleidoscope is easy, if you have the right tools.