Introduction: Vintage Camera Lamp With DIY 35mm Slide Shade
On a recent trip to visit family, I ended up winning an epic arm wrestling tournament against my brother. My prize? I got to bring home our dad's vintage Canon AE-1 35mm camera!
The Canon AE-1 was manufactured from 1976-1984 and is significant because it was the first microprocessor-equipped SLR. It sold over 5 million units making it an unprecedented success in the SLR market too. It's a collectors item. But to me? This camera is significant because it belonged to my dad!
I love photography and have a (very small) vintage camera collection, so I was very excited to get my hands on this particular camera. I couldn't wait to bring it home and do something fun with it. I knew I wanted to do more than just stash it on a shelf or stick it in a box somewhere, I wanted to see the camera and turn it into something. I ended up making it into a lamp that is now a cool conversation piece in my living room.
I made the tripod out of an IKEA lamp and made my own "slides!" There were a few snags along the way, but follow along and I'll show you how I made this lamp without damaging my dad's camera.
You will need:
- Lauters lamp from IKEA
- elevator bolt
- furniture tacks
- box catches
- Silhouette Cameo
- printable transparencies
- cardstock paper
- jump rings (or wire, jump ring mandrel and wire cutters)
- Misc.: sandpaper, stain, spray paint, glue, tape, washer
Step 1: Envision the Lamp
Once I had the camera safely home, I set out to use it creatively. The camera is in great condition and still works well, but I didn't think I'd be using it for photography anymore (I've been spoiled by my DSLR and digital photography!). I have been looking to replace the lamp in our living room for some time, so I decided to find a way to make the camera into a lamp that could be a fun conversation piece.
I scoured the internet for inspiration and found the Lauters lamp from IKEA. I thought this would be a perfect IKEA hack project! I brought pictures of both into Photoshop and started playing around with ideas of what I wanted to do. I used this like a vision board and took some time to organize my thoughts on the project.
Step 2: Making Room for the Camera
I knew I wanted the camera to sit in the middle of the lamp, between the two disks. To make that happen, I had to cut the (brand new, shiny, fresh...) lamp in half. Thankfully the lamp cord fed into the lamp above the top disk, so I was able to saw the lamp in half using a hacksaw and not have to worry about relocating the cord.
Step 3: Making the Lamp Look Like It's Vintage
The light ash color of this lamp was just not doing it for me, so I decided to stain it with Rustoleum's Kona wood stain. I sanded everything with a fine grit sandpaper to remove the factory finish, then distressed the wood. I hammered a screw sideways to get some lines, hit randomly with the claw end of a hammer and poked a few holes with a nail head. Basically I used whatever was laying around to add some texture. I tried to keep the marks random while making sure to stop before it got too crazy.
Once the wood was distressed, I covered the parts of the lamp I didn't want to stain with masking tape. I applied the stain, making sure to get some into all the newly formed dents. After letting the stain sit for a bit, I wiped it off with a paper towel and let it dry completely. I ended up repeating the staining process again to get a richer color.
Step 4: Mounting the Camera: Attach the Top to the Hot Shoe
Now that the lamp base was coming together, I wanted to attach the camera in a way that would not damage the camera and would allow me to take it out if I ever wanted to use it. Luckily the camera has a few built in spots I can utilize to attach the lamp without drilling into or otherwise damaging the camera. And, as luck would have it, both points are in the center of the camera, which is not true for all cameras, but it made me happy for this particular project.
On the top of the camera there is a hot shoe. A hot shoe is an attachment point for a flash or other accessory that communicates with the camera. Thankfully Canon hot shoe sizes haven't changed in size since this camera was made. I found hot shoe accessory mount bolts that slide right into the hot shoe and can then be secured in place by tightening the nut.
I drilled a hole into the bottom of the smaller lamp disk that was deep enough to fit the majority of the hot shoe bolt, then glued the bolt in place. Once the glue dried, I slid the bolt base into the hot shoe and tightened the nut to secure the top of the lamp to the camera.
Step 5: Mounting the Camera: Attach the Bottom to the Tripod Socket
Now that the top was attached to the camera, it was time to attach the bottom of the lamp. On the bottom of the camera, there is a tripod socket that allows you to screw the camera onto a tripod. You can also screw in any other 1/4 inch bolt you desire. I found this elevator bolt at the hardware store and thought it would be perfect to attach the base of the lamp to the camera while looking kind of "tripod-y" on the bottom of the lamp. To attach the base, I drilled a hole all the way through the bottom disk and fed the bolt through the hole. I tightened the second nut from the accessory mount set and tightened the bolt in place. Then I simply screwed the camera on to the base.
Step 6: Bring Some Vintage Charm
I love all the little details that give vintage tripods character. I wanted a similar feel, so I set out to look for small metal details I could add to the lamp to give it a vintage-like feel. I found some furniture tacks that I thought would be fun feet on the bottom of the lamp. I hammered one in the bottom of each leg. Even if you don't see them when the lamp is in use, those little details are a nice surprise if you happen to discover them.
I also found a set of box catches that had a hinge piece and a little decorative catch that I thought would work well for the legs of the lamp. The catches were a little too wide, so I used a pair of pliers to bend the edges of the hinges to make them fit around the legs. I hammered in the nails from the kit to hold them in place and put a little dot of glue under the tops of the catches to keep them from falling down. Finally, I took the little straight pieces from the box catches and glued them midway up each leg as added detail.
Now that the legs were ready, I screwed them onto the base with the screws included from the IKEA kit and focused on the lamp shade next.
Step 7: Lampshade: Making 35mm "slides" With Silhouette
The Canon AE-1 uses 35mm film, that old school style film you have to develop in a dark room or send off to a lab to be processed. Some time ago, I saw a window dressing made out of 35mm film slides and thought that would be perfect if I modified the idea into a lampshade.
Ideally, I would have used film from photos that my dad took with the camera back in the day... unfortunately he didn't have any to pass along. I considered taking my own photos with the camera... I'd have to buy at least 3 rolls of film, take photos (the fun part!) and send the film off the be processed. Then I would have to get slide mounts, cut the film and mount them... hmm.
I saw lots of 35mm slides for sale on eBay, but I wasn't sure what kinds of photos I would get, and I didn't really want someones random family photos on my lamp. I decided to check out our local antique mall and see if I could find some there. At least then I could sort through them and maybe find ones I liked? ...no dice.
Undeterred, I decided to make my own slides by printing photos using cardstock, transparency film and my Silhouette Cameo. I searched Google for the dimensions of 35mm slide mounts and found a photo showing different styles. I decided to make 26.5mm square slides and 38mm square "super" slides. These numbers indicate the size of the hole for the photo, but the outside dimensions for both was about 2 inches.
I opened Silhouette Studio and brought in the picture of the slide mount styles. Using the Drawing Tool, I created a square and a rounded square using the photo as a guide.
Once the sizes were dialed in, I added small circles to the corners of the slides for the jump rings to hold the slides together in strips. If I were to do this project again, I would add holes to the middles of the slides instead of the corners so the strips would hold together in both directions. Live and learn!
Next, I used the Replicate Function to create a mirror image directly below the first set of squares. I selected the bottom pair and nudged them up slightly to overlap with the top squares, then I selected the outside shapes, right clicked and selected Weld. This combined the two shapes and erased the middle line making one solid piece on the outside of the slide mounts.
Using the Line Tool, I drew a new line between the two squares and changed the line style to a dashed line so I can easily fold the slides over later on.
Once I had the design ready, I lined up as many as I could fit on one sheet of paper, about 6 mounts, and had the Cameo cut the shapes out of thick white cardstock. For this lamp shade, I calculated that I needed 56 slides (I was wrong... more on that later).
Step 8: Create Faux 35mm Film
Now that the slide mounts are ready, I had to create the photos to go inside them!
Before I could make photos to go in my slide mounts, I had to decide what those photos should be of. I love photography, especially nature and landscapes. I reviewed my photos and fell in love with the idea of having a monarch butterfly lamp! Not only are monarchs beautiful, they are also warranted for the endangered species list. I thought I could make a beautiful lamp and maybe spread a little awareness and education about monarchs at the same time, win win!
While I had lots of great photos of my own, I asked the friendly folks in the Monarch Madness In Wisconsin and TBM Rec Room Facebook groups to send me their best monarch photos. These groups are so supportive, they flooded me with photos to pick from (they also help when you have silly questions about your caterpillar that is acting a little weird)! If you're interested in learning more about monarchs, check them out! I also highly recommend watching the monarch series by MrLundScience on YouTube.
I had quite a selection of photos to choose from and wanted to use as many different stages of the monarch life cycle as possible: from eggs to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Check out the photos in this Instructable, I tagged some additional information about monarchs for your entertainment and education!
In Silhouette Studio, I still had my slide mount designs up so I started by creating a square that would fit between the edges of the slide mount and the middle hole where the photos would show. I knew I would need somewhere to glue the slides to the mounts, but I didn't want to interfere with the holes I already made for the jump rings. I decided the best size would be 1.669 inches (I suppose I could have sized up to 1.7 for ease, but I didn't. Oh, such a missed opportunity to simplify the Instructable... my apologies ;)).
I brought all the monarch images into Silhouette Studio. To size them correctly, I duplicated the middle photo holes from the slides, then resized the images and lined them up with one of the two photo squares. One by one, I framed the part of the image I liked most, then selected both the image and the photo square and went to Object > Modify > Crop. This took the image and cut it down to the size of the photo size to fit inside of the slides.
Once the images were all ready, I duplicated the template boxes in rows and centered the cropped images in their own squares. I grouped the images by size and lined up sheets to be printed on the side of my workspace.
I dragged one group of ready to print photos into the workspace at a time and select Send to Printer from the top. I printed the images on transparency film, which is normally used in screen printing to print images on garments. Unfortunately the transparency film I used isn't fully transparent, it was more translucent. While it worked ok for this project, I can't recommend this specific product as the ink smudged if I touched it. It got pretty messy part way through and I ruined some of the slide mounts with smudgy fingerprints. If I find a better product to use in the future, I'll be sure to update this Instructable.
Print with best quality and load the transparency paper per the product directions.
Step 9: Trim and Mount the Photos
Now that I had all the photos printed, it was time to cut them up and glue them to the slide mounts. I used a pair of scissors to trim the photos down to individual slides. Initially I left the black border on the images for the benefit of this Instructable (so you can see where I cut) but when I held the finished slide up to the light, I could see the line though the slide mount. I went back and trimmed all the black borders off.
I sorted the photos by small and "super" slides and then used Aleene's Tacky Gel Glue to glue each slide into the mounts. I found it easiest to use a small paint brush to paint a thin line around the inside slide opening, then using a pair of tweezers, I gently placed the slide and lined up the image with the edges of the photo hole. I painted more glue on the opposite inside of the slide mount and gently closed the mount over the slide and ran a bone folder around the edges to seal the slide closed. I placed the finished slides in a pile and found it best to put the pile under a heavy book while they were drying to help keep them stay flat.
Step 10: Make Jump Rings
Now that the slides are all ready, I needed a way to attach them to each other. Jump rings seemed like the obvious choice because they are super cheap. I intended to just buy some at the craft store, because who can be bothered when they're only $1 for like 100 jump rings.
I went to three different craft stores and nobody had 8mm antique bronze jump rings! I could find multipacks, but I needed over 100 jump rings and I didn't want to buy that many packs. I checked Amazon too, but the turnaround time was a week long (some days I wonder why I pay for Prime...).
So I decided, again, to make my own! Jump rings are easy to make, it's just the principal of the thing...
To make jump rings you will need a jump ring mandrel or something to wrap wire around, wire and wire cutters. I wrapped the wire around the mandrel in a tight spiral. Using wire cutters, I cut straight down the length of the spiral, separating the rings as I went until I had a pile of 8mm antique bronze jump rings. Boom.
Step 11: Attach Slide Mounts to Each Other
Now that I had slide mounts and jump rings, I can finally assemble the lamp shade! I started by looking through all the photos and decided on a layout. I alternated large and small photos and tried to keep similar looking photos separated. Once I settled on a layout, I attached the slides to each other in strips of 4.
Step 12: Alter the Shade Rings
The IKEA lamp came with two shade rings and a strip of plastic that snaps onto the rings to make the shade. The shade attaches to the lamp by feeding the lightbulb through the hole in the lamp ring and is supported from the bottom of the shade.
For my shade, I wanted to hang the slides in strips but the slides didn't have the same support the plastic did for the original lamp shade configuration. I needed to somehow support the shade from the top of the lamp instead of the bottom of the shade. I bought a lamp harp which would allow me to support the shade from the top.
The next hurdle was that hole in the middle of the lamp spider ring was too big to be attached to the top of the harp, so I found a huge washer with a small hole in the middle and glued it on to the ring to make the hole smaller.
Once those parts were all ready, I spray painted everything black to match the lamp harp.
When I went to put the harp on the lamp, I realized the harp saddle (the part at the bottom that the harp snaps into) was too small to fit the IKEA lamp thanks to European sizing being a tiny bit larger than American lamps. I found a separate European lamp harp saddle and swapped it out and that worked perfectly!
To assemble the lamp, I put the plain lamp ring over the bottom of the lamp base first, leaving it down by the legs for now. Next, I installed the European harp saddle by sliding it over the base by the bulb and tightening the threaded collar on top. Next, I attached the harp to the saddle and attached the modified spider ring to the top of the harp by screwing the finial in place. Phew!
Step 13: Hanging the Strips
Now we're ready to start hanging the strips. Each section of the spider lamp ring held 5 strips of photos. Originally, when I was planning this lamp, I measured the shade that was included from IKEA and then made as many slides as would fit the same size as the shade. I left a little wiggle room because I figured there would be some space from the jump rings. When I had attached all the strips, I decided I needed to add one more column and one more row down to make the shade fit the lamp properly.
In total, this shade used 75 photos!
This also meant I needed to make more jump rings... I was overjoyed at the notion... haha.
Once all the columns were attached to the top lamp ring, I brought up the bottom ring and attached one strip from each section then attached the sections between the "supports." This part was a little tricky to do alone, a second pair of hands would have made it much quicker. When all the rows were attached, the lamp was finally complete!
Step 14: Final Steps
I really loved the end result! I love that the camera is on display in a unique way that will be a conversation piece and that I can take the camera out if I ever want to use it and that it's not damaged from making it into a lamp. I also love that I can display so many monarch photos and bring some color to our room. This will be a piece we use every day and it will bring character to our space. I couldn't be more thrilled with the end result!
Full disclosure... there was no arm wrestling tournament. I actually just snuck the camera out of my brothers house when he wasn't looking.
Ok, that's a joke too. He freely gave the camera to me, but he made me promise that I wouldn't drill a hole in the camera (as if I needed to be told not to drill a hole into a Canon AE-1 in perfect working condition!). My dad really loves the lamp too and said the camera strap really brought back a lot of fond memories.
If you liked this project, please leave a comment below!
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