by Leslie Anger, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Kaleidoscopes are creating a colorful commotion in fashion and jewelry. The mysterious, almost mosaic-like patterns and colors of kaleidoscope toys bring new energy to accessory inspiration and prove no matter the time of year, bold prints and bright hues are never out of season.
What is a Kaleidoscope Anyway?
Most of us are familiar with kaleidoscopes from viewing fantastical colors and shapes through the cylindrical contraptions as kids, but how does a kaleidoscope work in the first place? Kaleidoscopic patterns are created with the help of at least two mirrors and an end that allows light to filter in. The reflective surfaces are positioned at an angle, typically a ''V'' or triangle, in the body or handle of the kaleidoscope.
Opposite from where you look in, there is an assortment of glass, paper, colored liquid and other elements that come swirling into view of the mirrors as the kaleidoscope is turned or leveraged. Both the toy and the continually shifting of patterns are referred to as a ''kaleidoscope.''
How is the Kaleidoscope Inspiring Fashion and Jewelry?
The consensus amongst fashion reports and blogs explains the kaleidoscope trend as stemming from a desire for nostalgia. Remember that feeling of excitement when you first looked inside a kaleidoscope toy? Those unabashedly big, bold and colorful patterns evoke happy and bright feelings with a touch of childlike whimsy.
We're seeing statement jewelry pieces and sets from Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Ralph Lauren and other designer brands where the emphasis is on mixing geometric shapes and jewelry tone color spectrums as well as iridescent and vitrail effects. The shapes are angular and have disjointed connection points, imitating the random assemblage of shapes and colors inside a kaleidoscope.
How Can I Make Kaleidoscope Jewelry?
To see some of the materials and ways designers use kaleidoscopes as inspiration, here are some jewelry-making contest entries with kaleidoscope colors or patterns as the jumping off point:
Seed Beads Designer-artist Alison Devon Bachmann said, ''Colors! Noise! Movement!'' was the inspiration of her Kaleidoscope Jubilee. ''If colors could cause commotion, what would it look like? This necklace celebrates a variety of shapes and colors in a comfortable-to-wear, groovy aesthetic. The swirls give this piece a carnival-rollercoaster feel (thus the title: 'jubilee') and the multi-colored palette reminds of candy and sweet festival food.''
Polymer Clay Ericko Page created her eye-catching Kaleidoscope Beads necklace because she wanted to challenge herself to create a kaleidoscope with natural earth tones. This design focuses less on the overly bright colors, instead focusing on the fascinating prisms and shapes seen as a kaleidoscope spins.
Swarovski® crystals Kaleidoscopes are all about refraction and reflection so these colorful crystal beads are a perfect choice. Janice Leininger created Autumn Kaleidoscope Falls with all manner of individual and even contrasting hues, but when combined, the result is cohesive and imitates the mixing of colors that creates a unique finished result you see inside a kaleidoscope.
Kaleidoscope Effect Components It's super easy to achieve kaleidoscopic fun in jewelry thanks to components already designed with a kaleidoscope in mind. Intriguing volcano and tabac coatings on the inside of each glass drop or focal component with textured kaleidoscopic patterns is visible through a smooth, clear glass front, imitating a real kaleidoscope. Easily turn these into popular pendants just by adding a jumpring or ice-pick bail and your favorite cording.
Pick a color scheme, pick shapes--pick whatever it is you love about kaleidoscopes and start designing. The trend is perfect for high-end, festival and everyday jewelry markets. There is no right or wrong when it comes to these kaleidoscopic jewelry designs because every kaleidoscope is unique and you'll never see the same pattern twice within one.