How to Make a Teleidoscope (open-view and Lense Kaleidoscope)




Introduction: How to Make a Teleidoscope (open-view and Lense Kaleidoscope)

About: Illustrator from Chile

According to Wikipedia, a teleidoscope () is a kind of kaleidoscope, which have a lens and an open view, so they can be used to form kaleidoscopic patterns from objects outside the instrument, rather than from items installed as part of it. It was invented by John Lyon Burnside III.

This is how you see with the teleidoscope:

This is the finished teleidoscope. You can see the lens here, a simple transparent glass ball.

Step 1: Materials

The tools and materials should not be difficult to obtain. I think the most difficult or expensive is the glass cutter.

In addition, you will need a spare piece of mirror (depending on the size of the teleidoscope, around 15x10 cms).

Finally obtain the glass ball. It looks opaque when it is close to you, but at around 20 cms (1 foot) it converges light.

Glasscutter & lubricant (cooking oil)
Glass (three 15x2cm pieces)
Transparent glass ball
Paper or duct tape

In the picture, you can see more materials you may need, such as glue and cardboard tubes.

Step 2: Measuring the Teleidoscope

The teleidoscope has an internal arrangement of three rectangular mirror plates. The size of this rectangular mirrors will depend on the size of the glass ball.

My glass ball is around 2cm, which I measured using a sheet of paper wrapped around it.

This will be the diameter of the teleidoscope, but first we need to cut and arrange the mirrors.  As the diameter is 2 cm, we will need to put inside this three mirrors arranged forming a triangular structure, that can be seen in the fourth picture below.

Step 3: Cutting the Glass

Now we will need three pieces of mirror, measuring 15x1.5cm. Before cutting the mirror, make sure the tip is lubed with cooking oil as this facilitates the cutting. Be aware of using a thick ruler to guide your cut.

When the cut is done, you will only notice there is a straight crack on the mirror surface. We need to detach the mirror piece, by gently pushing down. Use a piece of wood or the rule under the mirror to guide the stress.

If the cut was well done, it will detach cleanly.  Using gloves and goggles for extra-protection is advised.

Step 4: Mirror Internal Arrangement

With paper tape or duct tape, arrange the mirrors as shown in the picture, with a little separation between them, for future bending.

Bent the set and try to form a triangular shape, with the three pieces.

Cover the whole structure for extra strength.

Step 5: Outer Layer

Finally, wrap the triangular structure and the ball, so that you know how much paper is needed to protect the teleidoscope.

I only used thick paper to cover my teleidoscope. You can use decoration paper or other fancy wrap, but remember what matter is inside!

Step 6: Perceive Reality Again!

Enjoy your new toy!

See this video (with noise).

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    8 Discussions

    armored bore
    armored bore

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Is the glass ball at the end vital? From what I've read, it mostly forces the viewing end from laying flat against the subject and shutting out all the light.


    Reply 3 years ago

    The dome would definitely allow the needed light in. A hemisphere or sphere is definitely something to experiment with. Probably a personal preference depending upon what you are looking at. I find experimenting with the different variables and what that does to what you are looking at, either inside or outside of the 'scope is 50% of the fun.30% is just the fun of LOOKING and SEEING and EXPERIENCING. And 20% is coming up with new combinations to try. And then the fun starts all over again. We made some kaleidoscopes with a clear ring of acrylic separating the bits and pieces you were looking at from the mirrors. You could hold it up sideways (hence called a sidelight kaleidoscope) to a light, even a flashlight, so you could see a more dense arrangement which didn't allow much light in.

    PS It's amazing to look at flowers in a garden with a teleidoscope.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    If you use the glass ball, the composite image has a more abstract look. Without it, it is just plain reality, looked at through a narrow tube.


    3 years ago

    I made a teleidoscope at a class at John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. Instructor Scott . . . I recommend using the dome on the end away from eye. I used a hemisphere. But I seem to be missing the cover for the eye end in your directions. This isn't necessary to make either the teleidoscope or kaleidoscope work properly--I think it's just for looks and safety--keeping the inner workings a mystery. We cut and polished circles of glass for the eye piece and had brass ring fittings to go over the dome and eyepiece both. You could cut an acrylic sheet, like a transparency into the right diameter circle to protect your eyes from small mirror fragments which might break off. Then put your paper, tape, etc. around everything. Or cut the solid end off of a skinny jar lid? The 'scopes of my youth had cardboard circles as an eyepiece, with a 1/2 inch hole cut in it. Don't remember anything covering that hole. My teleidoscope is standing up in the center. Perhaps you can make out the brass rings on both ends of the kaleidoscopes and teleidoscope?

    ps the 3 mirror arrangement DOES produce hexagonal patterns. But the number of mirrors is a cool variable to experiment with. How many pattern repeats would you get if you used 6 mirrors? 5?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Heh, we bought an excellent one in a shop on Cape Cod (mostly to learn how to make them, but also because it was incredibly well designed), then promptly tried making our own.  We really should have bought forward mirrors instead of rears, but they worked pretty well.
    If I ever make a larger one (I think our glass ball was 1" diameter), I'd like to try a hexagonal mirror pattern - I've seen a few around, and they look even more incredible.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment and the idea of using six mirrors, I should try that...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I had one of these as a kid, and I've wanted to make one for a few years now.


    10 years ago on Introduction


    When I was a child, I dit some kaleidoscopes, but never before I had heard about teleidoscopes.

    Your cat
    is very beautiful, too.