I love the idea of “augmented” reality. Be it a dream, an abstract painting of your emotions, or perhaps a photo. Angle or mood that was unknown to the photographer just seconds ago, before he took either the accidental and experimental shot. The main thing is that it has plenty of reality as an ingredient.

Things I see in a kaleidoscope to me are one of sweet, hands-on augmented reality. The atmosphere of real-world feeds the fantastical imageries created by the device – thus making the fantastic more real or reality more fantastical.

Although kaleidoscope was something I’ve seen around – be it an actual device or the imageries created from it – I never knew how it worked. I vaguely thought its inner workings would be something complicated. It’s actually very easy to make a basic kaleidoscope – which is then a good point to start testing with various angles of tilted mirrors. The version here is made with used paper towel core, circular plastic pieces, and reflective paper.

And yes, it’s supposed to be a great toy for kids. Although Mathias wasn’t that interested… I’m guessing it might have been a time of the day (it was night time when he tested it out, so not much light was coming through the kaleidoscope).
Or it was because the reflectivity of the reflective paper used is, although ok, it’s not the same as a mirror. I’ll give it another try with him sometime…:)

-paper tube (I used a core from paper towel, which allowed me to cut the multiple lengths of tubes. If you’re using toilet paper core, you might need a couple)

-reflective paper (you can them at scrapbooking material section in stores like Michael’s)

-clear plastic (cut out from strawberry carton, etc.)

-beads/marbles/etc. – translucent things work best but you can mix in little bit of opaque things too. (just keep in mind it’s easier to use chunkier beads – if there are too much room for the beads to move around within the bead compartment, the effect is not too great)


Cut the tube sections in three different length-
Long, medium, short. (I made mine 5″, 3″, 3/4″)


Cut open the longest and shortest section, pull the edges together just a hair closer, and tape them up again. This gives them a little smaller diameter than the medium section.

STEP 2 cont.

…so the longest and shortest can fit into the middle section, like in the picture on the left.


Cut the length of the reflective paper to the length of the longest tube. Eyeball the length of an equilateral triangle for a prism that will fit into the tube. Mine was about 1.5″. Score the BACK of the paper at the interval.


Slide the prism into the longest tube. If it’s snug enough, leave it as it is. If it’s little too loose or you want to secure it more, use little dabs of hot glue on the edge of the prism and slide it in.


Time to make the bead compartment! Trace the shortest tube section on the clear plastic sheet twice with a pen. Cut on the line.


Cover one end of the shortest section with the circular plastic piece. Fill it pretty full, but not jampacked, with beads / other granules. Cover the other end with another circular plastic piece.


Snuggly fit in (or secure with a bit of hot glue) the shortest section with beads into the medium section.


Put the longest section into the medium section. Turn the medium section to see the changing reflections on prism as the beads move around. Play around with different kinds of beads in the bead compartment. Decorate the kaleidoscope if you wish!

I painted the medium section and wrapped the longest section with tissue paper.
Whirly fun!
Also, it becomes a teleidoscope without the bead compartment. Point the main tube at the world around you and see the cool patterns emerge!