The Gakkenflex TLR is a fun little toy camera that's capable of taking some incredible pictures. To those unfamiliar with Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) cameras, it's quite an unusual piece and a great conversation starter. However, I can't help but feel that something's missing... Ah, lens caps!
The Gakkenflex TLR comes in an inexpensive build-it-yourself 35mm camera kit. The thing that really drove me to purchase one is that it’s a true TLR – you can actually focus your image in the viewfinder window. It only takes an hour or two to construct, and once it’s completed, you’ve got yourself a very capable little TLR camera. The only thing is, there are no included caps to protect the beautiful plastic lenses! Well, why not build those too?
What you’ll need:
*Two Empty Film Canisters
*Self Adhesive Felt
I had all these things laying around the house, but it probably wouldn’t cost more than a few bucks if you have to go and purchase anything.
Note: Please use EXTREME CAUTION when handling sharp tools!
First, we’ll start off with the two film canisters. They will be the lens caps. But they’re a little long, aren’t they? We’ll have to cut them shorter with the utility knife. I figured around 7 millimeters from the bottom was a good length, so I wrapped the tape around the canister 7 millimeters from the bottom to mark where to cut. Now take the utility knife and carefully cut the bottoms off of your canisters. Now they’re starting to look more like lens caps!
At this point, you’ve probably realized that they’re a little too loose to stay on. But don’t worry, that’s where the felt comes in. I chose to use self adhesive felt because it’s very easy to apply, no glue required! It can be found at the craft store for no more than a dollar or two. However, you can certainly use regular felt and some glue instead. What you’re gonna do is cut the felt into long, thin strips with your scissors, which you’ll then stick around the inner edge. This will tighten the fit of your caps.
For the taking lens cap, I used one strip of felt that was around 4 millimeters by 90 millimeters, give or take a millimeter or two. It is important that you stick it right on the inner edge of the cap, and not deep in the cap. Otherwise the felt won’t be able to grip the lens, and it won’t stay on.
For the viewing lens cap, apply the same 4mm x 90mm felt strip, but also apply another thinner strip on top of that one, around 2.5 or 3 millimeters wide. Again, stick right around the inner lip of the cap, and not deep into the cap.
And voilà! You have successfully capped your Gakkenflex! If you’re satisfied, you may stop here. However, being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted to go a step further by attaching the two caps together. To do this, I used:
*Thin Scrap Plastic
*Optional – String
Start by laying out some double sided tape on the surfaces of your caps. Using scissors, cut around the caps to remove any excess tape. Now, put your caps onto the lenses. Take your piece of thin scrap plastic (I found this piece of plastic in my junk bin, but you can use whatever you want, such as scraps from a DVD case.) and place it on the caps. The tape should stick the caps and plastic together. Now remove the cap assembly from your camera. Using scissors, cut off the excess plastic. I chose to leave a little bit of plastic to punch a hole in so that I could attach my caps to my Gakkenflex via a piece of string. This way I am less likely to lose my new caps.
There you have it! DIY caps for your DIY camera! Be creative with your own caps! It doesn’t have to be plain black. Use colored felt and scrap plastic! Cut the scrap plastic into fun shapes! Be imaginative and have fun!
Should you undergo the task of creating your own caps, let me know how it goes! Are there any alternative materials to felt that may hold the caps on tighter? Perhaps you found something other than film canisters that make great caps too?