Introduction: Sideview Mirror for Video Calls

Make a small mirror that lets you include both hands and face in your video calls.

To make this you'll need:

  • A small plastic mirror, ideally about 6 cm diameter
  • A piece of flexible wire
  • Pliers
  • Hot glue gun
  • Knife for scoring the back of the mirror
  • A clothespin (or other relatively weak clamp that you can imagine putting on your screen)

This idea emerged out of research I'm doing as part of my PhD in collective creativity at the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University, with funding from Dokk1 Library and the Carlsberg Foundation.

Step 1: Score and Crack Your Mirror in Half

Lay the mirror down on something soft that won't scratch it, and score the back several times with your knife. If it cuts through all the way so much the better. If it doesn't, you can bend and crack it in half. The cleaner the edge the better, since a rough large one will make a thicker line across your screen. If the mirror doesn't crack straight you can clean up the edge with your pliers or a file.

Step 2: Glue Your Wire Onto the 1/2 Mirror

Using your pliers, bend your wire such that it makes a loop that provides more purchase for the hot glue. Glue your loop onto the back of the 1/2 mirror. Use plenty of glue so the joint is as strong as possible.

Step 3: Wrap the Wire Around Your Clothespin and Crimp It Down

Attach the wire to one of the legs of the clothespin that you squeeze when applying it. Be sure to crimp it down so it holds stiffly in place. If the wire is loose, it's more difficult to bend it into the right position in front the camera.

Step 4: Position Your Sideview Mirror

Place the clothespin on your screen in such a way that you feel confident it won't put too much pressure on it. Open up your favorite Photo-booth like software that shows what the webcam is seeing.

Now we'll bend the wire into position. Remember that the glue joint between the wire and the mirror is probably not very strong, so you should pinch it firmly while bending the wire to adjust the angle to prevent it from getting stressed. If the joint breaks, try putting some scratches on the back of the mirror where you plan to re-glue the wire, so as to give the glue more purchase.

Happy videocalling! If you have any feedback, suggestions, or improvements, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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