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Volume 2, Issue 1

The New Kaleidoscope 1

Copyright 1999, 2013, 2014 B. Bensley

TOOLS and how to make kaleidoscope fun!

By Brett Bensley, Editor

A tool to help make those mirrors fit.

By Brett Bensley

I hope you have enjoyed our previous issues. I also hope that each issue imbeds a desire to help make this publication greater than it is. If so, please send articles, pictures, and other information to bdbensley@ What does this have to do with tools? This may be a very short issue, but the start of something big for many kaleidoscope artists. For many years I have been trying to help increase the knowledge of kaleidoscopes and to increase the capabilities of the artists, both novice and advanced. As such, I am offering a unique tool designed to simplify one of the most troublesome activities to artists; measuring mirrors to fit a tube. Just read the article and enjoy. As for the next issue, get your kaleidoscope information in! Brett Bensley

For many years I have wanted to share this, and many other, unique tools I have designed and created to make my kaleidoscope making easier and more effective. For a very simple reason, I now share one of my simple tools to help you find the size of mirror to cut for your round body tubes: the Bensley Mirror Ruler. Before we get started, I must tell you that I first made these in the early 1990s and wanted to share them with other artists. As such, I hold all rights to this and any other tools/devices I describe in this publication, unless specifically attributed in this publication to someone else. I am sharing this information so you can make one for yourself, and you can make one for a friend. You cannot mass produce or sell them without my written permission. Got it? Then lets get started. For many of us, we measure the interior of our tubes and then go through calculations to get a size to cut the mirrors. This is based on the tube interior diameter and the angle between the mirrors. Wouldnt it be nice to just take a ruler and measure the mirror size? Here is the basic design of that ruler and how to make it! This can be made on paper or stiff cardboard, but I prefer to make it on acrylic or other clear sheet material. The first step is to cut the material. I prefer a square or rectangle. The one used in this article is 3 inches by 3 inches, but you can make them smaller or larger as you need. You will then need tools such as a compass (the one used to draw circles and not the one used to find North) or dividers, a ruler, a protractor, and something to help you mark or score the material (acrylic). Paint or colored permanent markers will help. See Figure 1. The first step after getting your material cut is to mark a starting corner, the point of where we start

Figure 1 - Tools needed

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our lines and pivot our curves. I start by scoring a line across the piece lengthwise as shown in Figure 2. Near one of the corners, I mark, usually by cross scoring, my start point. This will be my pivot point. In Figure 3 I am pointing to the pivot point. You will note that I painted the initial score line so it can be seen. This needs to be marked or even slightly drilled to keep it consistent with the tools you will use. Using the protractor, put the pivot point of the protractor on the tool pivot point and line up 45 degrees down from the first center line we scored. This will give a line under the center line 45 degrees from it. Why? This is where some math comes in. The common degrees for symmetry in kaleidoscopes are: 60 degrees = 6 images and a 3 pointed star 45 degrees = 8 images and a 4 pointed star 36 degrees = 10 images and a 5 pointed star 30 degrees = 12 images and a 6 pointed star
Figure 3

Figure 2

27.5 degrees = 14 images and a 7 pointed star 22.5 degrees = 16 images and a 8 pointed star 20 degrees = 18 images and a 9 pointed star 18 degrees = 20 images and a 10 pointed star 16.8 degrees = 22 images and a 11 pointed star 15 degrees = 24 images and a 12 pointed star

Figure 4

I included 90 degrees for reference. To get the angle between the mirrors and make this tool work, we divide the angles we want in half, so half the angle is above the centerline and the other below. So our 90 degree reference will have a line 45 degrees from and below the center line and 45
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degrees from and above the line. This results in 90 degrees between the two lines. I hope you get it as this is what makes this work. See figure 5. Some artists create 90 degree mirror systems, but that is not common. We will now add the 60, 45, and 30 degree lines to our tool. We now score from the pivot point and the center line the half angles of these degrees. Figure 6 has the illustration of the two 30 degree angles from the center line and how together they make the 60 degree mirror angle. Repeat this with any angles you want.
Figure 5

TIP: I dont recommend adding all the angles as they can be easily confused. Instead I would recommend more than one of these having the angles that are apart. For example, I would put the 90, 60, 30 degrees on this one, while I would have another with the 45 and 36 degrees. You will see that the 45 degree angle marks are very close to the 60 degree angle marks in this example. We now need to add our ruler to make this work, and to do so, we need a ruler. Place the ruler with the zero point on the pivot point, and along the center line. Next mark the center line with all the ruler marks to your level of accuracy. I think for most of use, this can be 1/8 of an inch. In this illustrative project, I limited it to inch markers, so it is easy to see how to make it and use it. See Figure 7. Once our scale is marked, we take the compass/dividers to mark the curves we need to complete the tool. Place one leg of the dividers/compass on the pivot point and mark/score each of your measurement lines. Make sure you cross all the angle lines you have scored previously and plan to use in your scopes. Figure 8 shows how to mark the center line with the measurements needed. A finer marker would be better or use a tool to score the marks. Figure 9 shows the use of the compass to mark/score the lines for measurement. Accuracy helps make this project work, but may not be needed if you plan to include packing for your mirrors. After scoring all the lines for this tool, I usually decide to color the lines different colors to help
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Figure 6

distinguish them. In this example I colored the half inch marks as red, so it is easier to read. You may also want to color the corresponding angle marks a color as well, instead of the plain black used here. Your tool is now complete. How does it work? Figure 10 shows how to place it against the tube. The pivot point is located along the interior wall of the body tube. The centerline is located along the center of the tube, which can be helped by making the sure the mirror lines and measurement marks are equal on both sides.
Figure 8

To get your measurement, find the angle you want between the mirrors. In this case I will use the 45 degree lines. I then follow the curve back to the measurement (center) line and see that I will need about 1 inch mirrors to fit this 2 inch tube. Again this tool it not marked for such accuracy, but it shows that the point where the angle lines hit the interior walls of the tube are at about 1 inches. See Figure 10. This is a lot better than having to always calculate the mirrors or look it up in a table, right? TIPS: I drill a hole in the pivot point, just large enough to add a bulletin board pin. Then I place the pin against the inside wall of the tube to make my measurement. There are many ways to make this more accurate and easy to use. I might describe those in future issues.

Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 7
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Thank you for your support!

Brett Bensley I want to say thank you to all those who have given support for this and other works benefiting the kaleidoscope world. It is nice to hear something pleasant, rekindling everyones efforts to promote the art of kaleidoscope making. Remember that this issue is free and may be printed and copied, provided that nothing is charged to those receiving it. Below, those who want to mail them to a friend, acquaintance or customer may do so by providing the appropriate information and postage. Anyone wanting to contact me and to provide materials or articles for future issues of this publication may do so by sending it to Please be sure to include either kaleidoscope review or TNKR in the subject line. Thank you very much.

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