Introduction: Polymer Kaleidoscope

Use PVC pipe and some polarizing film to make a fun little kaleidoscope!

Step 1: Materials

PVC pipe (1”) Available at home improvement stores

PVC pipe (1 ¼ “) Available at home improvement stores

Polarizing Filter Sheet (available online from: A Flash Photonics )

Rubber Band

Transparent Tape (not Scotch Brand magic tape)

Hot glue Gun (or other type of glue)

Sandpaper (any grit will work, but I used 100 grit)


Exacto ™ Knife or other sharp blade for trimming the polarizing filter

The two sizes of PVC pipe fit nicely into each other, and we will use this close fit to construct a kaleidoscope out of these materials.

Step 2: Cut the PVC Pipe

Measure and cut the following lengths of PVC pipe:

1. A two inch (2”) long section of the 1” PVC pipe.

2. A one and a half inch (1.5”) section of the 1 ¼“ PVC pipe.

(It may be easier to cut the lengths ahead of time; a compound miter saw is a very efficient way to cut the pipe. A hacksaw will also work, but it is harder to get a square cut)

Using 100 grit sandpaper, smooth both ends of each section of PVC pipe. The edges should feel smooth when you run your finger over them.

Wipe your PVC pipe sections with a damp cloth to remove the dust from sanding.

Step 3: Cut Your Polarizing Film

Next, you need to cut the polarizing filter to fit one end of the PVC pipe.

Place each section of PVC pipe on the polarizing filter, and trace around the outside using a permanent marker. (see photo)

Using sharp scissors, carefully cut each circle of polarizing filter around the inside of the circle you drew with the permanent marker. (Any excess can be trimmed with the Exacto ™ knife after gluing.)

Step 4: Glue the Parts Together

Place the polarizing filter on one end of the PVC pipe, making sure it fits and is centered. The filter should overlap slightly.

Glue the polarizing filter to the end of the section of PVC pipe. I used a hot glue gun, but another type of glue may work as well.

Repeat this step for the other section of PVC pipe. There now should be two sections of PVC pipe with polarizing film glued to one end.

Wrap a rubber band around the small PVC pipe to act as a “stopper”.

Step 5: Experiment With the Two Filters

Place the smaller PVC section into the larger section. Rotate the PVC sections and observe what happens.

Remove the small PVC section and place several small pieces of transparent tape over the filter, in an overlapping manner. Observe what happens.

Your Polymer Kaleidoscope is now complete!


seamster (author)2014-10-02

Very nice!