He created -- and continues to create -- object chambers with intricate, handworked pieces of glass including handmade beads, pressed molten glass, flameworked and cut pieces and dry-filled ampules. Using a selection of colors, shapes and textures, Charles creates an interesting visual on the inside that coordinates with the design and color of each kaleidoscope’s exterior, achieving a color balance and maximizing the image’s intricacy and randomness.
Over the years, Charles’ work has evolved through a natural progression of variations and improvements to his kaleidoscopes. Although Charles considers the kaleidoscope’s exterior to be an important, integral part of the overall design, he considers the interior image to be critical. To perfect the interior, Charles has created more than a dozen different mirror systems, ranging from three to 24 inches in length, and each unique to a particular style of exterior.
Starting out with the straight tube type mirror system (both two and three mirror), Charles built hundreds of scopes in an effort to understand the relationship of the objects in the chamber relative to the different angles of the mirror system.
With each successive scope, Charles refined his techniques -- improving the clarity, detail and seamlessness of the image. From there, Charles moved on to mastering the tapered-design mirror system -- a transition that enabled him to build kaleidoscopes that maximized the image size in a relatively small exterior. Again, Charles built hundreds of kaleidoscopes working to perfect the object chamber/mirror relationship. At the same time, he continued to develop his fusing and slumping techniques -- creating a kaleidoscope that is as pleasing to the hand as it is to the eye.
Charles works alone in his studio in Damascus, Maryland making each part of every kaleidoscope by hand. There are no machined parts. Every piece -- down to the smallest shard of glass in the object chamber -- is hand worked and individually selected by the artist himself. This thoughtful attention to every detail enables Charles to create beautifully intricate and detailed images that capture and hold the viewer’s attention.
In addition, by making every piece himself, Charles ensures that each kaleidoscope has its own unique personality, produced to the artists’ own high standards of quality -- being built (as he says himself) to last lifetimes. Every piece is an original, signed, and numbered work of art.
He has collaborated with many other artists, including Harry Winston, James Lane Casey, and Teruko Tsuji, with work exhibited in many galleries and private collections throughout the world. His work is featured in many books and publications and is the recipient of many awards, including the Brewster Award for Creative Ingenuity and the Cozette Award. From November 2003 until January 2013 Charles was one of the Directors of the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society, the international organization of kaleidoscope enthusiasts.