Raku Kaleidoscopes and More

My kaleidoscopes have no wheels or wands. They are the simple shake-and-twist kind I knew as a child. They are not made of wood, stained glass, acrylics, brass, copper or steel. They are made of slab-built, hand-formed, incised and slip-decorated clay which after being bisqued to cone 6, no less, are glazed and re-fired in my raku kiln.

I cut the lenses and mirrors and lenses myself - no kits or patterns are used here! After having made a couple of kaleidoscopes, I thought, why not make a few things out of stained glass too? So, I cut a few rectangles and soldered them together using the copper foil technique. The result was the box below. Since then, I have made a few other things and find that glasswork and pottery are fairly compatible, although I still prefer working with clay.

I couldn't resist making a few glass-bodied kaleidoscopes! The ones I see around are built in triangular form, which, though easier to make, are a little unwieldy to hold and turn, so I made my tubes round.

In mid-February 1999, I made a few more raku kaleidoscopes. Personally, I find them more attractive, both to sight and touch, than the ones made from glass. They are also lighter in weight. And, of course, each one is unique in colour and design. They are in keeping with my style and personality. After spending days making the clay tubes ( I do not have an extruder or slab-roller), carving the designs, brushing un diffenent coloured slips, bisque firing and finally applying various raku glazes, what can be more thrilling than abandoning them to the whims of my primitive trash-can kiln, four at a time and removing them one by one with long handled tongs, laying each tube carefully into an oval-shaped galvanized container full of crumpled newspaper and glossy magazine pages; slamming on the tight-fitting lid and waiting for the most exciting moment of all? Fire and smoke have done their wonderful work and the tubes are laid out on the wet grass, where they shine with myriad colours although their true beauty will not be appreciated until they have been well-scrubbed with steel wool soap pads. I have to admit that by comparison, the stained-glass ones are merely a technical feat of careful cutting and combination of colours. Flames and smoke are replaced by the fumes of the soldering iron and the thrill of their creation is definitely lacking even though the end result can be delicately pleasing.


Some of what you can see through my kaleidoscopes




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