How to Make a Kaleidoscope

Print Share

    To make this simple kaleidoscope, you will need: 8″ x 6″ (20 cm x 15 cm) sheet of acrylic plastic or Plexiglass about 1/16″ (15 mm) thick (available at art or building supply stores); very sharp knife or sheathed razor blade; ruler; cloth tape (duct tape works well) and transparent tape; scissors; spray paint; plastic wrap; small, brightly colored, transparent objects such as glass beads; small piece of tracing paper or other semitransparent paper; pencil; small coin or button; small piece of cardboard; decorative contact paper (optional).

    Note: Do all cutting and painting on thick newspaper and in well-ventilated area.

    1. Using ruler, make two cuts almost through plastic to form three 8″ x 2″ (20 cm x 5 cm) strips.

      Cut plastic
    2. Flip plastic so that slits are down, then cut two 9″ x 3/16″ (23 cm x 45 mm) strips of cloth tape and affix them on smooth side over slits.

      Cut cloth tape
    3. Very carefully bend plastic up at slits. It will snap cleanly along slits but remain hinged by tape.

    4. Turn plastic over so that taped side is on bottom, then spray-paint top side thoroughly. Let dry completely, then trim excess tape.

    5. Wipe clean unpainted side of plastic, then try to avoid getting fingerprints on it as you bend it, with tape on inside, to form triangular tube. Cut three 9″ x 1/2″ (23 cm x 1.5 cm) strips of cloth tape, affix along outside of tube joints, and trim.

      triangular tube
    6. Cut plastic wrap to match outer edges of end pattern. Place across one end of kaleidoscope so that part in center sags slightly, then tape overhang to outsides of tube with transparent tape.

    7. Cut tracing paper to match inner edges of end pattern. Fold according to marks on pattern.

    8. Loosely fill sag in plastic wrap with transparent objects, fit tracing paper over that end of tube, and tape securely with transparent tape.

      transparent objects
    9. Cut cardboard to match inner edges of end pattern. In center of cardboard, make small eyehole by cutting around coin or button. Score slightly at fold marks, then fold, fit over other end of tube, and tape securely with transparent tape.

      cut cardboard
    10. Face toward bright light and look through eyehole. Pattern in kaleidoscope will change as you turn or jiggle tube. For variations, try using bits of feathers, fine lace, chain, screen, or other tiny objects.