"I made machines and gadgets, devices to explore with. Stupid things. Like the Looty, which enables your eyes to stare directly into each other. It's a bad invention... I made a few to sell and then stopped because the effect is unnatural and probably harmful."
Oho! My sense of danger was piqued. I made quick stop to look at the original advert for it in the back of the <s>The Frank Book</s> (<-- don't know where I saw this ad, but I did. And now it's disappeared...), grabbed some likely materials and began.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
A box, roughly as wide as a human head, preferably a bit narrower.
Thin cardboard (Mine was sourced from a cereal box)
Greaseproof paper (To diffuse light)
Small, thin mirror
General purpose glue
Side cutters (Not shown)
CD marker pen (Not shown)
Step 2: Prep Box
Whatever you use, I suggest recording all the internal measurements to save time as you build.
Step 3: Assemble Mirrors
Using the internal measurements of the box and a bit of trig, I marked out suitably sized sections of mirror with the CD marker then cut them with a straight edge and glass cutter.
This was the first time I cut glass, so I ended up with slightly rough edges. As long as the glass is scored by the cutter, you can carefully nibble any extra glass off with some pincers or side cutters.
I backed each mirror with a triangular column. These were made from strips of cereal box with a tab at one end for gluing, scored and folded on the correct lines.
The columns alone were a bit flimsy, so I made some reinforcements to keep the right angles steady. I cut small squares of card then marked and scored the diagonals. A line from the centre to one corner was cut on each, then folded and glued to form a three sided pyramid.
The pyramids were fixed into the ends of the mirror columns, glued sides facing out into the open to ensure maximum squareness.
Finally, I glued the mirror columns to an old bit of tile to keep them correctly aligned relative to each other.
Step 4: Cut and Fill Box
An initial test with the mirrors showed they needed to be much closer to the eyeholes than I expected, so I cut a strip of card with tabs on the sides, which filled nearly 1/2 the box when folded and glued in place.
I also decided I didn't like the hole in the top, so covered it from beneath with a conveniently fitting picture of a bug glued to a panel of cereal box card. That's shown here in a dry run, but was later glued in place.
Step 5: Lighting
So, I settled on cutting a window into the bottom of the box. Inserting the mirror section, I carefully marked and punctured the bottom of the box. Using the marks, I drew a curving outline on the underside and cut it out.
I rounded any squarish bits on the cuts between the eye holes and nose piece, and reinforced the nose piece with a strip of card.
I then cut a panel of card to correspond to the window with the plain face up, and a piece of grease proof paper to sandwich between the panel and the box. Once they were stuck in place, I glued the bottom of the nose piece on top of them. A window this shape on the bottom face of the box makes the innards more aesthetically interesting by creating a clover shape when the mirrors are installed.
Also, the tabs on the side panels of the box projected over the eye holes, so they were trimmed to fit.
Step 6: Tweaking
Two quickly made and installed baffles, detailed in the images, cut the eyelines up and made a much more interesting effect. It now causes the user to appear as a crazed imp by reducing the distance between their reflected eyes. Much better :)
Step 7: Replenisher of Souls? or Their Undoing?
The first time I got my eyes to move independently, it made me recoil.
Close one eye and you get to watch it open again with the other. Tilting or turning your head causes the mirror image to move the opposite way; it reflects you as other people actually see you, apart from the missing chunk of face between your eyes. Tilt the Looty 45 degrees and your reflection turns through 90. It also emphasizes differences in color perception.
It seems to be a source of brief amusement for anyone who picks it up. Yesterday, a guest turned it on its side and used it to inspect his nose hair.
After a short while though, looking into this thing begins to seem like some weird form of bi-polar narcissism.