Category Archives: History

Kaleidoscopes – Geometric Art and Inspiration

Colorful kaleidoscope

For centuries, kaleidoscopes have fascinated children and adults alike. Anyone can play with this mesmerizing toy for hours, marveling at the elaborate beauty it creates. This Christmas, parents and grandparents can share the nostalgia of this magical gift with their loved ones.

As children gaze intently into the tubes, captivated by the endless array of vibrant colors and intricate patterns, they are unaware that they are actually learning something about the principles of science and math along the way. With their ability to spark creativity and encourage inquisitiveness, kaleidoscopes are excellent gifts for kids for many reasons. They are portable, mysterious, and breathtakingly beautiful, providing a continuous source of stimulating entertainment.

KaleidoscopesToYou offers more than 100 types of kaleidoscope toys, ranging from vintage to contemporary models. Our classic tin and high-gloss cardboard versions are perfect for younger children, especially those who love popular characters from “Star Wars”, Thomas the Train, and “Curious George”. Our solid wood line, kaleidoscope key chains and elegant jewelry are better suited for older children, who will appreciate the heirloom quality of these unique gifts.

Kids of all ages, from preschoolers to high school students, will also enjoy spending the blustery days of their winter break inside the house using their imaginations to build their own optical toys from our extensive line of kaleidoscope kits.

Kaleidoscope of Love

kaleidoscopes for kids

Artist Sue Ross was a child when she crafted her first kaleidoscope, fashioned from a cardboard tube and a few random items. Later, the California-based artist used her knowledge of fine glass etching and stained glass window design to turn her hobby and fascination with kaleidoscopes into a career.

Her adult creations are inspired, detailed and unique, and they are coveted by collectors across the globe. Her keen eye for detail and whimsical designs inspired by childhood and fairy tales, Sue Ross kaleidoscopes are imaginative conversation pieces that may become treasured heirlooms.

Kaleidoscopes themselves have a rich history that goes back almost 200 years. They have come a long way from their early, simple designs that were originally intended to be a tool for scientists studying the polarization of light. They gained popularity instead as children’s toys, and many kaleidoscopes today mingle form and function, becoming works of art.

Many of Ross’ creations are discontinued and have become collector’s items, like the Frog Prince and the Petite Jewel Mini Parlor. Her delicate designs don’t overlook the kaleidoscope case, which may be made of ceramic, rosewood or glass and then embellished with ribbons, reverse painted glass, beads, and metal accents. Collectible Sue Ross kaleidoscopes are signed by the artist.

A Brief History of Blown Art Glass

Blown art glass is a beautiful type of glass that has a rich history. This unique, visually-stunning glass allows viewers to see amazing patterns when using a kaleidoscope. A fascinating history allows fans of the artistic type of glass to learn more about how it was developed.

blown art glass

A Historical Overview of Art Glass

Here is an overview of some of the most important events related to this type of glass.

  • While sand has to be exposed to high heat in order to form glass, glass has been used artistically since approximately 1600 B.C. Pieces including vases and jugs that were made with glass during this time were considered to be rare and valuable.
  • Glass blowing is a technique that has been used since 100 B.C.
  • Transparent glass was not developed until the 1800s. Brightly-colored pieces were common before techniques for creating transparent glass were properly developed.
  • Artistic pieces that were made entirely of glass were especially popular during the Victorian era. Ornate vases adorned many upper-class homes during this time.
  • Glass is a material that is still used in artistic pieces today. Glass blowing is a specialized skill that has become more popular as artists become interested in learning this technique. One major appeal of blown glass is the fact that each piece is completely unique due to the method that is used to create it.

To learn more about blown art glass, visit

Kaleidoscopes! More Than Meets The Eye.

“To us, the turning of a kaleidoscope symbolizes the rearranging of stored information to constantly create new patterns- new approaches to problem solving; different colors change patterns of feelings.”- Ned Herrmann

Kaleidoscopes are more than merely just an optical stimulus of cool colors and changing shapes. Did you know that these little gadgets have many practical uses? For many, the kaleidoscope is a joyous celebration of color. For others, a kaleidoscope is a great meditative device. When kaleidoscopes are used in color meditation, this type of mediation involves mentally recalling a color and then concentrating on it. The kaleidoscope’s images represent possibilities, opportunities, and horizons that are often created by disorder and chaos. A kaleidoscope can help stabilize emotions, by calming the view with a visual experience of soothing colors.

Kaleidoscopes are often used in therapy to help soothe and stimulate a patient. Medical research has revealed that many illnesses are caused by stress. Stress is destructive to our wellness, and often to our mind. Kaleidoscopes can help calm our stress by offering us a soothing viewing experience that stirs our imaginations and present an endless variety of form and color combinations. When you purchase a kaleidoscope, you aren’t merely buying a toy or mantle piece, you’re buying peace of mind and an experience. When thinking of buying a kaleidoscope, remember there is much more than meets the eye!

How Much Do You Know About Kaleidoscopes?

Kaleidoscopes are a unique and beautiful creation. Some people love to collect many different styles and types while others may have only ever seen them as a kid. They have a unique history, are used to inspire many professionals and have been loved my many for centuries since their creation. We thought we would put together a fun quiz to not only test your knowledge, but to also see how big of a collector on connoisseur of kaleidoscopes you were. Here at we have been dedicated to them for years making, selling, and teaching others about them and we want to share this enjoyment with you.

1. Who invented the Kaleidoscope?
A.Benjamin Franklin
B.Sir David Brewster
D.Sir Humphry Davy

2. The word “kaleidoscope” is derived from words in what language?

3. Who patented the kaleidoscope, but didn’t event it?
A.Thomas Jefferson
B.Charles G. Bush
C.Sir David Brewster
D.Don Doaks

4.Who began the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society in 1986?
A.James Connell
B.Patricia Bath
C.Charles G. Bush
D.Cozy Baker

5. What are kaleidoscopes used for?
A.Stimulus for the eye
B.Inspiration to artists
D. All of the Above

The correct answers are: 1.B 2. A 3. B 4. D 5. D

How many did you get right? If you said all of them, you’re a Kaleidoscope king or queen, if you got 2 or 3 correct you’re on your way, and if you didn’t get any right, don’t worry, a little learning and research and you can be a Kaleidoscope king or queen in no time! We hope you enjoyed our kaleidoscope quiz and we hope you’ll visit us at to see the wonderful items we have to offer, including kaleidoscope jewelry, kids kaleidoscopes, beautiful Fenton Art glass pieces and much more!

Fenton Art Glass and Kaleidoscopes To You

Karl and I have shared a great history with Fenton Art Glass for over 25 years. Both of our family businesses had carried Fenton glass independently before we married and merged the stores and eventually became Kaleidoscopes To You. But that’s another chapter.

The chapter being written at Fenton currently is one of big change as they transition from major glass production into bead making.

Karl and I had a magical visit in 1999. We took the public tour and spent some time in the gift shop and then we introduced ourselves as a dealer. Then Scott Fenton spent some time showing us the new furnaces and sharing some of his history. He started out sweeping floors around the furnaces and then worked with hot glass during college.

We also were allowed to see the machinists at work as they create new moulds for glassmaking. Each mould was handtooled and crafted from solid steel to withstand the heat of the glass. A quiet secret is the basement. It is filled with vast amounts of steel moulds; not just crafted by Fenton craftsmen but also acquired from other glass factories that have closed along the Ohio River valley. Stacks and stacks of moulds all tagged and cataloged…..

Then we were escorted up to Bill Fenton’s office. Bill was serving as Chairman and Frank was Historian during 1999. Frank stopped in briefly, but we spent half an hour listening to Bill’s stories and learning about the major gift shows and their new efforts on QVC. Shelley Fenton Ash also poked in for a moment as she wanted to check on a prototype piece for QVC that she picked up off of the shelf.

Bill told us the story of selling a piece of cranberry glass to Avon for a Christmas catalog. Now Bill could have taken a dozen of these pieces home from the factory. But no, he orders 2 pieces from his local Avon lady! Talk about integrity and wanting to see his products succeed as well as everyone connected to Fenton!

Bill was also interested in kaleidoscopes. I took off my Dean Krause Oneness ring and handed it to him. Being delightfully old school, he exclaimed “What cute girls in bikinis!”

As we left Bill’s office, our main sales contact told us how impressed Bill must have been. It was 11:45. He always left at 11:15 so he could have lunch at home with his wife and watch the Young and the Restless!

We have always been proud to represent Fenton Art Glass here at Kaleidoscopes To You. It is with sadness and respect that we have received our last shipment of figurines from Fenton. We have adapted and changed our business through the years and we acknowledge and respect Fenton for having the strength and foresight to change and adapt. In fact, back in 1999, our website had a dancing telephone icon and our toll free number. We didn’t even have internet access at work yet!

At Kaleidoscopes To You, we are able to expand our glass paperwieght and figurine offerings with other glass studios. Feel free to browse Glass Eye Studio and Orient and Flume Art Glass on our website for lovely gift ideas.