Charles J. Sorg


Charles is a native of Columbus, Ohio who has always been an artist, but hasn’t always made a living at it. 


Starting in 1970, Charles worked for 16 years at a nationally known, large department store as an advertising artist doing illustrations, photo retouching and layout design for newspaper and catalogs. In 1986, with the onset of the computer graphics age, he started working as a freelance graphic artist and making kaleidoscopes in his spare time. Computer generated graphics finally killed his freelance work in 1994, however he continued making kaleidoscopes.


For the next six years, until 2000, Charles took the time to create art only for his own growth and enrichment, mostly designing and making kaleidoscopes. 



It was also during that timeframe that he made many pairs of fully beaded moccasins and bags, Cable Damascus knives, most with beaded sheaths, breastplates, and rattles made out of rawhide in a variety of motifs of his own design.  That form of art resulted from his interest in Native American Indian culture and artwork.  In 1989 his cousin had introduced him to a Rendezvous which is a French term meaning: “A place where people are in the habit of meeting or gathering.”  Basically it is the portrayal of early Americana (circa 1776 through 1840) when the mountain man, trappers, buck skinners and explorers would meet and trade for supplies with traders from St. Louis, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  Charles says, “As an artist I became very interested in Native American Indian culture and artwork, both of these had a profound effect on me”.


From November 2000 until September 2003, Charles worked as an operations manager at a small blind and shade manufacturing company. During this time period he did no artwork at all. With his wife Leslie’s blessings, he “retired” from this job on the last day of September 2003, with the goal to go back to doing artwork fulltime.


Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Charles had sold kaleidoscopes at a few galleries but that wasn’t profitable.  During the last week in November, 2004 he started listing some older kaleidoscopes on eBay. This was not only profitable but for the first time people from all over the world were exposed to Charles’ work. He later gained additional exposure when he was featured in Mary Margaret Gibson’s book The Kaleidoscope Collector’s Guide.


Charles says, “Art is evolution and change and I am no exception”.  His journey as a scope artist has taken many changes.  In 2000, he designed a kaleidoscope which started him to thinking ‘outside the box’ so to speak.  It was referred to as the Blue Nugget Kaleidoscope and it was the start of Charles’ transformation into creating kaleidoscopes with an exterior shape as “something more” than the scope’s body.


In 2005 Charles bought a kiln when it became necessary for the completion of a kaleidoscope he had been working on for over a year. This was the first time he had incorporated slumped glass into one of his scopes.  Once again his direction and designs had completely changed, so he named that scope 'Transition’.


A third transition of his work occurred in 2008 when he was able to bring his air-brush out of moth balls for more than just dusting off mirror systems. He played with doing air-brush designs on scopes and the following year he was doing full color illustrations on his kaleidoscopes.


Charles states, “I believe the image formed by the mirrors inside the scope to be the soul of a kaleidoscope. I also believe that its exterior is of equal importance and have decided to use it as “the canvas” on which I do my art”.


Charles is always striving for perfection and searching for his next transition.  All of his scopes are hand made with a minimum of electrical machines and tools which include a kiln, a Griffon band saw, an Inland grinder and a soldering iron.  He uses no templates in the making his scopes. His Voyager shaped kaleidoscopes may look the same but most vary in size of up to an inch in height which changes all of its dimensions including; the size of the window and platform on which the image wheel is attached, the size of the image wheel and the size of the base.  He works out each and every one of these size variants in his head. Each scope is truly, one of a kind. All of his scopes are signed and dated and he never makes the same one twice. 


Today Charles lives with his wife Leslie, Houdini their cat and Hector Pete the parakeet in the suburbs outside Columbus, Ohio.  His hobbies are photography, entomology, zoology, geology and rendezvousing.  He also patronizes the arts and collects original works from many artists in a variety of mediums, including kaleidoscopes.   Charles feels, “Art, be it mine, someone else’s or nature’s, is my life”. 




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