Apollo Crushed Dichroics, like Blue Lemonade, officially came onto the market in 1999.

Apollo Design® first offered Dichroic Glass Filters in 1998.

We felt a need to refresh our memories of Apollo Dichroics and thought you might want to join our ride down memory lane.

Before we dive into Apollo dichroic products, we want to briefly highlight the beginnings of dichroic glass by the Romans, followed by modern-day dichroic technology in the United States.


The Roman Lycurgus Cup on display in the British Museum. 1

Dichroic comes from the Greek word, dikhroos, which means bi-colored.

The Lycurgus Cup — a chalice depicting the Greek mythological tale of Ambrosia pulling King Lycurgus to the underworld — is the oldest known example of dichroic glass dating to the 4th Century AD. Made in Rome from translucent glass and microscopic colloidal gold and silver fragments the cup looks red when lit from within and green when lit from outside. 2

Modern dichroic glass — made with transparent glass coated with thin layers of metals measured in millionths of an inch — was one initial NASA project in the late 1950s and 1960s, assisted by the U.S. Department of Defense and their contractors.

The purpose of this pioneering dichroic glass was to prevent damage to spacecraft instruments and the vision of astronauts while in space. The resulting “chameleon effect” was a happy accident for lovers of glass art. 3

The “Studio 54” Kentucky Derby Gala, designed by Goodwin Lighting, was the first to use Apollo Crushed Dichroic Gobos.


Joel Nichols, Chief Innovation Officer and Founder of Apollo, describes Apollo’s entrance to Dichroic Glass Filters:

Dichroic filters use layers of Titanium Dioxide, and Silicon Dioxide built up in various thicknesses to create a microscopic light filter that passes some wavelengths of light and reflects others. Since its structure contains organic material, and it does not absorb light, it lasts a very long time and can handle a lot of heat over its life.

As Apollo started building dichroic based gobos, we expanded into stocking the colored glass for use as both a stand-alone product and as a base material for our gobos.

If a customer had a blue logo, for example, we might use a solid piece of blue dichroic, and a black and white gobo layered together to give them a gobo that projected a blue logo.

The 1999 Apollo catalog featured Apollo Crushed Dichroics.

Apollo Crushed Dichroic Gobos first appeared in the Apollo catalog in 1999, the same year it introduced the first Apollo full-color glass ColourScenic® Gobo at LDI in Orlando — and won the Best Expendable Product Award. Heavy 3.3 mm thick Dichroic Filters joined the catalog in 2000.

Apollo’s Senior Account Executive – International, Milad Khouli, shares his first remembrance of Crushed Dichroics. Milad and Keith Kankovsky, Senior Account Executive, were on the shop floor one day when Milad commented that the pieces of dichroic glass fragments on the ground had a kaleidoscope-like appearance.

“We grabbed a piece of glass and started gluing the dichroic shards together. We had to research glues to come up with a working solution, but the effect was exciting,” recalls Milad. “We believe we were the first to create Crushed Dichroics.”

Joel, Keith, and Milad

Keith continues, “Joel, Milad, and I produced many Custom Crushed Dichroics by adhering dichroic pieces to the backside of black and white glass gobos for a gala event at the Kentucky Derby. Our dealer was Goodwin Lighting Services(External Link), then located in Villa Hills, Kentucky, and owned by Glen Goodwin and Vicki Lipstreuer.”

Vicki volunteered additional details about the Gala’s Crushed Dichroics: “They were not all solid colored chunks of glass. Some of the little shards were striped or had polka dots on them. It just added to the unique nature of the images.”

“We continued to use these originals, as we called them, for many years to come. They were particularly popular at 1999 New Year’s Eve parties. We still have many of these originals in our possession — a testament to the quality work of Apollo Design Technologies®,” Vicki asserts.

Keith adds, “This single event began the product life of Apollo Crushed Dichroic Gobos.”

Joel, Keith, and Milad
Combining Apollo Gobos with Crushed and Enhanced Crushed Dichroic Filters using Apollo Gobo Rotators adds depth and dimension to lighting designs, with or without rotation.

Apollo Crushed and Enhanced Crushed Dichroics give way to endless possibilities in the world of lighting design.

“An economical way to create a spiral effect is to use Apollo Gobo Rotators with Crushed Dichroics and Enhanced Crushed Dichroics. I especially like the effect it has on fire gobos,” offers Milad.

When asked which lighting manufacturer first created dichroic filters, Keith guesses, “Texas-based Vari-Lite (External Link) created the first moving light. It’s speculated their proximity to NASA, and its dichroic filter chamber played an important part in the availability of such a rare glass item.”

Ronald Beal, a former Vari-Lite employee, provides a brief history:

The development of the Vari-Lite started in 1978 at Showco as a discharge fixture with a dichroic color changer. Eventually, the engineers decided, "Hey, why don't we add two or more motors and have the thing pan and tilt?"

The prototype was shown to the members of the band Genesis in a barn in England sometime around 1979. The band liked the idea and decided to financially back the project. Their manager is the one who came up with the name Vari-Lite.

The Vari-Lite debuted in Madrid, Spain, at a Genesis concert in 1981. After a year or so, Vari-Lite separated from Showco and began development of a new series of fixtures. Originally their light was just the Vari-Lite, but with new fixtures on the way, they needed a naming scheme to differentiate them.

The original Vari-Lite became the VL-1, and its system was renamed Series 100. The new Series 200 fixtures included the Artisan control console, the VL-2 Spot Luminaire, and VL-3 Wash Luminaire. 4

Joel, Keith, and Milad
From Left to Right: Brandy Struble and Emily Richardson, Apollo Glass Technicians.

Crushed Dichroic Filters are multi-color patterns, hand-made from small chips of dichroic glass so that each pattern will vary. An Enhanced Crushed Dichroic does not project any white light.

Crushed and Enhanced Crushed Dichroics are masterfully created by hand by Apollo’s talented Glass Technicians, Brandy Struble, and Emily Richardson. No two are alike.

Emily Richardson has been creating Crushed Dichroics for the last few years.

“We crush the colored glass and put each color in a separate container,” explains Emily. “When we get an order, we grab whatever colors of crushed glass are needed and glue them to a glass round, alternating colors on the glass. The glass round is then put in an oven, bezeled, and cooked again.”

If you want to dig deeper into the history of dichroics, check out the following NASA Spinoff article at https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2012/cg_2.html.


Have you used Apollo Dichroics and other products in your lighting designs?

Please e-mail your Apollo Products in Use photographs and include the products used to marketing@apollodesign.net for a chance to win a monthly $25 Amazon gift card.

1Sutton Hoo and Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2020, from https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/galleries/sutton-hoo-and-europe#&gid=1&pid=4.

2 Bhagyaraj, S. M., and Oluwafemi, O.S. (2018). Nanotechnology: The Science of the Invisible. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/lycurgus-cup

3trs.nasa.gov. (2020). [online] Available at: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20020080952.pdf [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020].

4Beal, R. (March 13, 2004). (online) Available at: https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/the-history-of-intelligent-lighting.676/. (Edited.)