Skeeter and Peter DeMattia

Skeeter and Peter Photo

Skeeter and Peter DeMattia are a husband and wife team who have been creating wonderful and unique kaleidoscopes for over 20 years.  They have always tried to create scopes that are a little different.  While most kaleidoscopes consist of a brass tube with a wheel on one end, “we’ve never done that”, says Skeeter.  Their business instincts told them that to find success, they would have to try something different. 

For the DeMattias, collecting interesting items turned into more than just a hobby. What started as a collection of optical instruments, led to a thriving kaleidoscope making business. The interest began when Skeeter bought a kaleidoscope at Basic Blue in Sugarloaf, New York.  Afterwards they started to collect them. “Since we collected them, we knew what had been done and we started doing things that couldn’t be done,” Skeeter said.

In 1991 the DeMattias were faced with a decision.  Peter lost his job as a parts manager and they either had to look for another conventional job or commit to making kaleidoscopes as a living.  Twenty years and thousands of kaleidoscopes later, Skeeter and Peter seem satisfied with their choice.

Outdoor ScopeThey began by making a flat book-like kaleidoscope which had never been done before. From there, they went on to design over fifty different styles of kaleidoscopes in glass and metal. After the great success of their glass kaleidoscopes, they moved to more art-like kaleidoscopes constructed from found metal objects that incorporate motorcycle, automobile, medical, tools and machine parts. These parts are used in many of their newer kaleidoscopes that may weight up to 150 pounds and less than a pound.  They also make scopes out of odd objects such as Coke and beer bottles, a flare gun from a World War II Navy ship, and a speculum, a favorite among female customers.

Working out of their house in the northern mountains and woods area of New Jersey, the DeMattia’s founded their business, Originals by Skeeter.  Utilizing two areas of their home to make their kaleidoscopes. Their main workshop is in their basement, where they store and assemble their scopes. Their basement studio isn’t expansive or elaborate. It’s a small space with barely enough room for them to squeeze past each other partly because they share it with a large boulder that their house was built on.  Peter also has a shed in their side yard where he does some of the more dangerous work like welding.

 

Peter in His ShopWhile some kaleidoscope makers order the parts pre-made and assemble them, the DeMattia's make the items themselves. They buy sheets of metal and glass and long pipes that Peter cuts, saws, welds and torches until he has a supply of perfectly sized pieces. When they get an order, Skeeter takes the necessary pieces for that scope and solders and foils them until they start to resemble a finished product. Peter helps add the finishing touches and then the masterpieces are complete.

 

 

In the ShopSkeeter and Peter sell hundreds of kaleidoscopes each year almost exclusively to galleries and small boutiques around the world.  They still enjoy inventing new and interesting kaleidoscope designs.

 

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