with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

A Camera Made Out of Paper

Does anyone still remember pin-hole cameras? As a child, my mother was the head of the local Camp Fire Girls program and she introduced us all to pin-hole cameras and sun-sensitive photographic paper and the magic of photography opened up for me. So imagine my delight in learning that there are instructions available online to make your own camera out of paper. What a great family project.

PinholeCZ offers the “Dirkon Paper Camera” instructions came out of a magazine produced in the 1970s during the Communist-controlled time in Czechoslovakia, an amazing country that is slowly but surely recovering from its years of oppression.

During the 1970s, magazines published in Communist Czechoslovakia were controlled by the state, like the majority of other enterprises. Very few good magazines were available and were difficult to get hold of, so people would borrow and exchange them when given the opportunity. This also applied to magazines aimed at young people, which was probably one of the reasons why almost everyone from my generation, when we get on to the subject of pinhole cameras, has fond memories of the cut-out paper camera known as Dirkon*, published in 1979 in the magazine ABC mladých techniků a přírodovědců [An ABC of Young Technicians and Natural Scientists].

Its creators, Martin Pilný, Mirek Kolář and Richard Vyškovský, came up with a functional pinhole camera made of stiff paper, designed for 35 mm film, which resembles a real camera. It may not be the most practical of devices, but it works!

My first attempt at putting together a paper Dirkon a few years after it came out fell victim to a total lack of patience on my part. Today, twenty years later, I decided that I had to include this unusual pinhole camera in my collection. So I got hold of an old copy of ABC and set to work.

The article features pictures of the paper camera and information on how to make your own. What a treat!

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