Marble Kaleidoscopes – Art Glass with Nearly Endless Possibilities

Posted by on Dec 2, 2015 in Art, Artists
Marble Kaleidoscopes – Art Glass with Nearly Endless Possibilities

Long before I began working in stained glass and making kaleidoscopes, I was a marble collector.  I particularly enjoyed collecting marbles made by contemporary glass artists, but also appreciated the beauty in the random swirls of machine made marbles.  Looking through a kaleidoscope one day, I was excited by the opportunity this amazing tool presented to appreciate my marbles in a whole new way.  The possibilities for color pattern and design are nearly endless due to the ability to change out the marbles featured at the end of the kaleidoscope.  You can look at hundreds of different marbles with the same kaleidoscope and find exciting and surprising results through the view finder.  I also enjoy playing with different mirror angles to create various imagery within the kaleidoscopes.  I generally use 6 different mirror configurations.  So, a simple cat’s eye marble can look quite different in each of the kaleidoscope styles that I make.  In this photo, you will see a cat’s eye marble and example images from 5 of the kaleidoscope styles that I create.

The top left image shows the marble.  All three right images are taken from kaleidoscopes that I refer to as my “Star Marble Kaleidoscopes”.  These kaleidoscopes contain two mirrors.  By changing the angle of the mirrors, I can control how many images are repeated and therefore how many points are on the star.  The middle left image is from a three mirror style that I call my “Equilateral Marble Kaleidoscope”, named due to the fact that all sides of the triangular shape are equal in size.  Below that on the bottom left is an image from another 3 mirror style, which I call my “Tapered Marble Kaleidoscope”.  The tapered style contains a spectacular spherical image which I think nicely mimics the shape of the marble.  These are all looking at the same marble with quite different results.


However, you do not have to have all of the different styles of kaleidoscopes in order to enjoy nearly endless design possibilities.  You simply need to have one scope and a handful of marbles, more or less.  Here is a photo of a handful of marbles that I documented through two scopes, a Star Kaleidoscope and an Equilateral Kaleidoscope .  This is only the beginning as I’m showing you only 1 or 2 and at the most 4 example photos from each marble, whereas you will see many, many more patterns from each individual marble.  And, you will likely see something different each time you look at that same marble through one of these kaleidoscopes.




Here are example photos of the above marbles in an “Equilateral Marble Kaleidoscope”.





Here are example photos of the above marbles in a “Star Marble Kaleidoscope”.



I encourage my customers to not be afraid to try all sorts of marbles in the kaleidoscopes.  I’m often surprised at the results that I get from marbles that I expect to “not be so great” in the scopes.  Of course, I can expect extremely opaque marbles to not let as much light into the scope and therefore not show off as well as transparent marbles.  However, I’ve found a black and white marble encased in a thin layer of clear glass can make some pretty incredible designs that I wouldn’t notice with a marble that has a rainbow of transparent colors.

So, I hope the next time you visit the Smiling Turtle Art Spot that you’ll pick up a kaleidoscope and play around for a little while.  Because, a still photo just doesn’t do the experience justice.

-Allison Borgschulte

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