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Thursday, March 14, 2019

KOSZTALASCOPES: Kaleidoscopes with a Twist

Photos and article by Connie Springer

Steve Kosztala of Hyde Park has an inventor’s mind. At night he dreams of ideas of how to build things.

In mid-2018, six months after retiring from a 25-year career with the Hamilton County Building Department, Steve started crafting wooden kaleidoscopes which he calls Kosztalascopes.

Kids at the Hyde Park Art Show enjoying the Kosztalascopes - left view shows traditional use of kaleidoscope; right view shows the kaleidoscope with the light and battery assembly attached.
His Kosztalascopes have a unique twist: he invented ones that could be seen either in daylight or in darkness through the use of a battery and LED light built into the assembly.

Kosztalascope style called “Spyglass”
During the day, one holds the kaleidoscope up to the nearest light source, as in its traditional use. In darkness, one attaches the accompanying light and battery assembly piece onto the base of the Kosztalascope and flicks on a small switch that provides artificial light with which to view the varied colored glass patterns.

Kosztalascope style considered “Traditional”
As one of eight children born to Polish parents who immigrated from Germany to Connecticut after World War II, Steve didn’t grow up with many store-bought toys. Instead, he and his seven siblings used their active imaginations to create their own playthings. He graduated from the Boston Architectural Center with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and worked full-time. Never a slacker, in his spare time he enjoyed completing hands-on projects out of wood - building cabinetry, bunk beds for his children and three additions to his house.

“Paris Wheel” style of Kosztalascopes
After retiring, he took a Communiversity class in making kaleidoscopes and used his newly gained knowledge to design his own creative Kosztalascopes, no two of them alike. Renting space in a woodworking shop at the Essex Studios in Walnut Hills, Steve goes to “work” every morning to put in six to eight hours each day designing and making his unique Kosztalascopic fusions of wood and colored glass.

Woodburned design on Kosztalascope (SOLD) in collaboration with Steve’s daughter, Zoe Kosztala. It can be reproduced.
Kosztalascopes have been exhibited in a number of art shows, including the recent 14th annual Northminster Fine Arts Fair, the Hyde Park Art Show and the Essex Studios Art Walks. People have been given Kosztalascopes for wedding, holiday, and birthday gifts. Depending on the age of the child, Steve makes smaller ones to accommodate smaller hands.

Steve Kosztala can be reached at or through his Facebook page,

Steve Kosztala showing one of his Kosztalascopes

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