Design Review 2 Covid Update (Kaleidoscope Project)

Oversized Kaleidoscope Project.

Given the fact that a global pandemic has effected us, the project I was ultimately planning and in the works to create was put on hold. This project was something I was heavily planning on constructing during Spring Break, however given the situation with areas closing down and my material options dwindling, I have decided to take the inspirations for my project in a new direction. Ideally, I selected a project that I could follow and learn as I built but ultimately wasn’t making something out of original design. Because of this constraint I have allowed a shift in creative motion for my project. I plan to still incorporate similar materials into my project, but find a unique and interesting way to create something of my own. Below I will outline my new emerging plans amidst a crisis situation in a design project. In the end, I want to make something that has meaning to me and that I enjoy, and hopefully others will get to enjoy it as well!

Background Information.

I should preface that I am a residential advisor on campus, and with the wake of Covid, I have been reduced to a lone dorm room with little to no resources around (ironically this was my strength at the beginning of the semester). Because of this, my budget and material availability has been hurt critically, I am now having to move budgets to adjust for coming changes and my access to machinery is limited. This condition has changed the status of my current project greatly, and in doing so challenges me to figure out how I plan to move forward. For this project I have decided to keep the aesthetic choices I presented throughout the semester including my plans for the final project, will continue into the progression of what is presented in the end. Another note, since I have reduced my budget and am limited to spaces to work, I am working with salvaged material from an empty dormitory. In the wake of changes at CU, my 400+  residence hall has been reduced to 20, and in doing so left a large amount of workable scrap material. This is ideal for me because it allows me to explore and play with “trash”.

With that said, I have transferred my focus with mirrors and lights into a new form direction, instead of a dodecahedron (so sad I can’t build it, but I shall prevail), I will be creating a kaleidoscope inspired piece. I have been playing around with the idea of learning more about these mysterious objects, they are so mystical and fun. I even had one sitting on my desk this whole semester starring at me in the face. I noticed with my dorm emptying out, many mirrors have been left behind, allowing me to salvage alot of fun material. I stumbled upon 2 mirrors with an amazing psychedelic trim, and I decided it shouldn’t be trashed. Between the mirrors collected and trim used ,I am able to create a large octangular kaleidoscope.

From here I was able to learn to cut mirror, given the proper tools. I cut the mirrors into strips that would fit the frame of the exterior or trim. Following this procedure it was simple to connect the strips together using duct tape. With this, I was able to stand up the main cylinder of the scope.


After this, I was also able to scrap some fairy lights which in turn became a useful replacement to my more expensive planned LED strips. These lights were the perfect material to bring the illusion to life. I have ordered color shifting lights to add a level of dynamic color change. Ultimately, I want a scattered color shift effect, which if perfect  given the eradicate nature of fairy light installation. Between the mirror system and lights, this will build the core of my cylinder.

Between the Lights, Mirror, and 1 Red Bulb I was able to create a wonderful infinite effect that roared with life. The photo above doesn’t do the justice of the effect that is made. So far, its looking pretty awesome. So now I am in my update on moving forward.

Below i’ve provided a sketch of my plan of construction and pieces. It is a draft, and I am still figuring out how to budget build this in the situation I am currently in.


What is left to complete:

  • Design the electrical configuration from scrap material ( source a led lightbulb) .
  • Create and collect a reflective material to fill in the rotational base of scope (acrylic bead, metal, oil)
  • Create a rotational base and bottom mirror system (possibly recycle plastic or clear sheeting).
  • Connect mirror system and trim.
    • Pad the interior mirror system from exterior trim shell.
  • Allow minor adjustments during process.
  • Turn it in and show everyone on Zoom something hopefully cool!


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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Benjamin Chang
    April 2, 2020 6:23 pm

    Hey Justin,

    Thanks for liking my shift, I would be happy to ask your opinions on the base, my current plan has been a 6in bowl and possibly some ball bearings (fidget spinner?), And to ask a question, what would you recommend for creating a base that is both solid and sturdy as well as easy to turn? Thanks Justin!

  • Ben, this is awesome. Im really happy to see that this is not a downgrade at all. Good job and pivoting and being able to figure out something that is very similar to your previous idea. The detail in the post is really incredible. For the format of the post, it feels like the end didnt have enough detail. Im interested to see more about how you are going to move forward from now. Regardless of format, I feel you are on great track with your project and feel comfortable you will be able to complete a wonderful final project.

  • Justin Engbrecht
    March 30, 2020 12:00 pm

    Hello again Benjamin! Following Dr. Hertzberg’s clarification that both Design Review posts should get in-depth critiques I thought it best for me to follow-up and give additional feedback to you, especially after the transformative shift brought about by the COVID pandemic.

    As a statement of meaning, I’m really impressed how you were able to pivot your project while preserving a lot of the same ideas of utilizing mirrors and light, and how you were resourceful and snatched up the mirrors and promptly learned to cut mirror.

    Please let me know if you have any questions for me regarding your main project to fulfill the “Artist Asks Questions” step of Liz Lerman’s critiquing methods.

    As a neutral question, this project is intended to remain an open geometric prism so that a viewer can see the stunning lightshow from above, correct?

    I have a permissioned opinion about how you might be able to improve the aesthetic of the rotational base of the spinning kaleidoscope, if you would like to hear it.

    I’m really impressed with how seamlessly you’ve been able to pivot while still preserving a lot of the visual wonder of the initial project, and again best of luck proceeding with this project!

    -Justin Engbrecht


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