Kaleidoscopes are a fun tool to use to enjoy optical illusions. With some mirrors, glass and colorful tidbits, you can create your own kaleidoscope that takes you to a world of beautiful images thanks to the items inside of it rotating along with the light coming in from the opposite end. The result is magical and can awe both children and adults.
Glass kaleidoscopes are particularly beautiful. They often look impressive on the outside as well. Magic on the inside and out, glass kaleidoscopes are an ideal summer stained glass project. Here’s how to make one of your own!
In addition to all your glass cutting tools, you’ll need:
colored glass in the colors of your choosing
solder (to use in your soldering iron)
decorative copper or brass elements for adornments and leg supports
1. First, line up your colored glass with your straightedge to make three strips that are 1x8 inches and mark them with a permanent marker.
2. Score the marked lines using your glass cutter, making sure to wear safety glasses while doing so. When the glass is scored, break it along the score lines using your glass-breaking pliers. Use your glass grinder to smooth out the rough edges.
3. Using the copper foil, cover the edges on your glass strips. Use a fid or similar instrument to burnish the edges of the foil.
4. Place the glass strips so they form a triangle with the copper edges together. Secure an additional section of foil along where each joint edge meets. Using a brush, apply flux to the foiled edges.
5. Using your soldering iron, solder the three glass strips together, leaving an inch open on one so that the brass rod can fit in.
6. Solder the brass rod in place along the top edge of the open end.
7. Score a triangular piece of clear glass that is the size of the end of your kaleidoscope base for your eyepiece. Break it and grind the edges until smooth. Wrap edges with foil, apply flux and solder it to the eyepiece on the opposite end of the base.
8. Apply flux, then solder it to the decorative leg and sun elements. Apply your patina later.
9. Solder a sun design element to each of the glass sides of the base. Also, solder a leg on each side of the base near the side with the brass rod.
10. Use a disc kit and follow the instructions that come with it to stick the brass eyes together on each end of the discs. Make sure you clean the disc well and place the stones, glass and jewels inside them.
11. While holding the discs together, apply foil to the edges. Then follow with flux and solder the edges together.
12. Cut the ¾ x 7 ½-inch strips from your mirror kit to assemble the mirrors. Lay the pieces in a line on a piece of masking tape so they almost touch.
13. On the back of each mirror panel, apply adhesive-backed felt circles. Then slide the mirrors through the glass triangle.
14. Apply the patina solution to the solder y using a sponge. Rub it in to polish it. Be sure to wear rubber gloves for this step.
15. Finally, slide your discs onto your brass rod and be sure to secure it with the nut that was included in your kit.
For more inspiration on creating kaleidoscope projects this summer, visit our artist gallery!
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