I got the idea to make kaleidoscopes one night last August. As I was drifting off to sleep – or rather, as I tried to stop thinking about work so I could sleep – I was contemplating what I could make with the old flute and clarinet joints I have accumulated over time. “Kaleidoscopes!” popped into my head. I jotted down a quick note.
The next day, I started researching the hows and whys and wherefores of kaleidoscopes. The more I learned, the more they intrigued me. I bought books and did research online. I sketched out design ideas. I joined the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society, an organization for kaleidoscope artists, galleries and collectors. The BKS is named after Sir David Brewster, who invented the kaleidoscope in the 19th century,
The Coat of Many Colors kaleidoscope, pictured above, is my first scope. I made it for the silent auction at the 2019 MusiCares gala last week, at which Dolly Parton was honored as MusiCares’ Person of the Year. Parton’s classic song was my inspiration.
Each step of the way, I puzzled over construction solutions and aesthetic choices. Getting the hang of precisely scoring and snapping the front surface mirrors for the interior took a bit of trial and error. I selected meaningful musical and colorful elements to go into the object chamber. When the scope at long last reached the stage where I could look through the eyepiece and turn the object chamber, I did a little dance of joy.
I was hooked. The alchemy. The synergy. The harmony. The fun! This was a turning point – literally and figuratively – for my work.
I can’t wait to make more kaleidoscopes to share with you.
The cherry on top of this creative sundae is that the Coat of Many Colors kaleidoscope raised money for a great cause. I hope that my instrumental patchwork did Dolly and her mama proud.