Kaleidoscope Glossary

Ampule: A small sealed glass container encapsulating colored liquid, bubbles, micro-beads or other elements to add life and movement to a kaleidoscope’s object chamber.

Cell: Object case, object chamber, object cell or object disc are all used more or less interchangeably for the container holding the glass, beads, gems or other objects that are reflected and multiplied in a ‘scope’s mirrors to produce its images.

Dichroic: Glass showing two or more colors, used by many ‘scope artists to achieve dazzling effects. Dichroic glass is made by a process that deposits a micro-layer of metallic oxides on the surface of the glass.

Draped glass: Glass which was heat-softened in a kiln and made to take the shape of a mold. Sometimes called “slumped glass”

Eye piece: The opening in a kaleidoscope, through which the user views the images inside. Also called the “viewing aperture”.

First surface mirror: Mirror in which the reflective “silvering” is placed on the front of the glass, rather than behind the glass. Images reflected in a first surface mirror are clearer, brighter and less diffuse than reflections in a conventional mirror. Sometimes called “front surface mirror”.

Fusing Glass: Welding together layers of glass with heat.

Kaleidoscope: An optical curiosity consisting of a (usually) cylindrical body with an eye piece at one end, mirrors contained in the center and an object case or wheels at the other end. The viewer holds the cylindrical body while he peers into the tube through the eye piece. He may rotate the object case or wheels to change the images reflected and multiplied by the mirrors. The images produced in this comparatively simple device can be startlingly complex, lovely, mysterious and fascinating.

Kaleidoscope/Standard dictionary definition: An instrument invented by Sir David Brewster, which contains loose fragments of colored glass, etc., and reflecting surfaces so arranged that changes of position exhibit its contents in an endless variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms. It has been much employed in arts of design.

Lampworking: The process of flame sculpting small-scale glass objects by bending, twisting or blowing the glass while heating it with a torch. Also called “flameworking”.

Mandala: Circular figure used in some philosophical systems as a symbol of completeness or of the universe.

Millefiori: Venetian-style glass beads resembling tiny flowers.

Objective End: The end opposite the eye piece, containing the object case, wheels, etc.

Polarizing filters: Filter material that restricts the vibrations of lightwaves to a single plane. When two or more filters cross, a highly refined spectrum appears.

Teleidoscope: A device with lens and mirrors, similar to the kaleidoscope but with no moving parts. Sometimes called a “reality ‘scope”, a teleidoscope reflects and multiplies any object at which the viewer points it.