Steven Gray

Steven Gray

Steven Gray is back!  After an absence of more than 12 years he has released his first new kaleidoscope.  Steven started making scopes in 1984 in the majestic Rocky Mountains of Montana.   And now almost 30 years later, in 2012, he is again making kaleidoscopes, only this time in Jerome Arizona.


Steven’s passion for kaleidoscopes grew from a combination of three things that he was excited about as a child: optics, gadgets and wood.   


He loved playing with optical tricks; odd reflections, binocular effects, the juxtaposition of light and shadow, moving the multiple mirrors around on bath cabinets and wondering what lies just to the other side of a reflection. 


Gadgets always intrigued him and still do. He loved taking apart all sorts of devices to see how they are put together (apologies to his mom and dad for all of the appliances they needed to replace once he investigated them).


His love for wood comes from a long line of ancestors that worked wood into useful and beautiful items. Many of his fond memories are of going down to his grandfather's wood shop and smelling the Black Walnut lumber, poking around in all the small drawers of miscellaneous parts and handling the tools that he used on the lathe.


And perhaps the main driving force behind his passion for scopes is that his friends would never let him look through their kaleidoscopes when he was a child. So he showed them and went on to make the best optical toys any of them could dream of. 

Steven is best known for his optics, having been the first artist to expand the mirror system to an advanced three dimension image with his patented “Parasol” scope.  Parasol (US Patent 5,020,870 issued on June 41991), and the other 3-D image scopes he designed, have been called by Marty and Tess Scherer of Scherer Gallery as the “single most important contribution to the history of the kaleidoscope since Sir David Brewster first patented the instrument in 1817”. 

In Thom Boswell’s 1992 in the book The Kaleidoscope Book – A Spectrum of Spectacular Scopes to Make, Steven Gray said “Kaleidoscopes have such a fascination and mystique that to do them justice, I feel that the outside appearance should have an attraction making it hard for most people to pass them by without stopping to investigate further”.  And “Another important aspect to me is the selection of wood and the effect that it will have on the overall feeling of the kaleidoscope.  Since I use some exceptionally figured woods, it is very important that I use the wood to its fullest potential.  Only then have I done the wood justice.  My reward is the satisfaction and enjoyment of a wonderful piece of wood fashioned into an object of an equally pleasing nature”


In 1993 Steven stopped making kaleidoscopes and turned his attention to custom woodworking full time.

Now, in 2012, Steven has begun making scopes again with the release of two new scopes: Squeeze Me, his first polyangular scope, and Reflections of a Parasol, with its image barrowed from the original Parasol scope and then viewed from the side of the parasol.


In 1993, Steven was awarded the 6th Creative Ingenuity Award by the Brewster Society. It was the first time this award was given for “a cumulative contribution to the kaleidoscene”.  Again in 2012, almost 20 years later, Steven won the Brewster Society Convention’s People’s Choice Award for his new scope, Reflections of a Parasol.


Steven says, “I thought it was blind luck or fate that brought kaleidoscopes into my life In part that may be true, some bits of good timing, the right input at the right time that sort of thing. Now I see that the kaleidoscope is a metaphor in many ways and for me. It is a pulling together of my interests and passions”. 



View Steven Gray scopes.


View the Steven Gray Contact Page


View the Steve Gray Wood Studios website.







Below is an interview with Steven Gray (used with permission from Kaleidoscopes To You).