The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Barbara Baker: Kaleidoscope maker

Written by David Green.


It’s said that if 20 objects are inserted into the base of a kaleidoscope and the tube is turned 10 times a minute, it would take 4.6 trillion years to work through all the possible configurations.

Whether or not this statement has any validity is of no importance to kaleidoscope maker Barbara Baker of Clayton. However, she surely appreciates the seemingly infinite array of designs seen when peering through the glass tube of a kaleidoscope.

“That’s what always fascinated me about them, even as a kid. You would never see the same thing twice,” she said.

Once an image passes by, it’s gone for good. You’ll never get it back.barbbaker

she enjoyed the basic cardboard tube style kaleidoscope from childhood, but she never considered building one herself until she started doing stained gall work.

Even that came by accident.

“A friend was teaching a class in stained glass and needed a quota of students,” Barbara recalls. “I said I’d take the class, and I liked it.”

She kept with it, and after a couple of years, she saw a kit for a stained glass kaleidoscope. She gave it a try and that, too, was a success.

For nearly 20 years now, Barbara has produced kaleidoscopes that she sells at craft shows, sticking with same basic design she first learned.


Barbara takes three stained glass rectangles and solders them together to form a hollow triangle. she then takes three sections of mirrors—each slightly smaller than the glass pieces—and tapes them to form another triangle.

These front reflecting mirrors aren’t the sort you find above the bathroom sink. The typical mirror bounces an image off the shiny surface and then up through a layer of glass.

A front-reflecting mirror doesn’t have the glass on top.

“The result is that the image is clearer,” Barbara says.

The mirror assembly is inserted into the glass, a clear glass lens is placed on each end, and solder is applied to seal the lenses in place.

This, obviously, isn’t the traditional round kaleidoscope with small bits of plastic trapped in one end. Barbara’s design is more elegant, and the end result is more stunning.

One of her kaleidoscope designs features a wire holder for a large marble. Spin the marble by hand and the kaleidoscopic effect begins.

kaliedBarbara creates another version that incorporates collections of pressed flowers trapped between two clear lenses.

“I press the flowers myself,” she said. “You can buy them, but it’s a lot more fun to go out and find them.”

Violets, pansies, sorrel, Queen Anne’s lace, mustard—there’s a variety of petals that retain their color when dried.

Another version is what Barbara calls a domed wheel. Two curved lenses form a hollow space where colorful beads, shells, charms, bits of broken glass, etc. are placed.

Finally, she creates a color wheel of stained glass. Barbara saves and sorts the scraps from other glass projects—she makes jewelry boxes, sun catchers, Christmas ornaments and more—and arranges the scraps onto a template.

When the circle is filled, she transfers the pieces into a domed wheel. Solder and wire help create a more intricate design, and sometimes she’ll add a small nugget of glass for interest.

“The light does different things with the nuggets.”

All of Barbara’s color wheels are placed onto a thin brass rod that’s soldered onto one end of the tube. The rod is threaded so a cap can be screwed onto the end. This makes the wheels interchangeable, providing a variety of designs that can be altered day by day.

A traditional kaleidoscope has frosted glass on the far end of the tube to diffuse the background. Barbara’s are clear on the end and the background becomes part of the design.

From her kitchen table, a glance out the window brings the bare branches of a maple tree into the image. Turn a little to the west and the red of the old barn takes its part in the design.

When she’s at craft shows, shoppers often peer through a kaleidoscope and utter an “Ahhh.”

“I think there’s something therapeutic about a kaleidoscope,” Barbara said. “It’s just relaxing.”

Barbara could use some relaxation time herself. Her job doesn’t leave her as much time as she’d like for her art.

“I figure one day I’ll retire, then I’ll have the time to mess around.”

It’s been an interesting 20 years with something she just happened to stumble across. But with her interest in glass, it was a great match.

“It was in my neighborhood, if not right up my alley,” she said.

    - March 26, 2003

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