Sugru Inlay Your Vintage Cameras




About: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to make a lot of props, but now I spend most my time building crazy cameras and sh...

So you treated yourself to a new vintage SLR camera? Decided to get something fairly unheard to show of your individuality?
Then the camera was added to a popular russian website and everyone was after them?

Well, you can maintain your uniqueness by customising your camera!

Sugru recently stopped making their orange Sugru, and I wanted to reproduce this effect on my new Ricoh SLR, so when I asked on twitter then sent me some of their last few packs! So I want to dedicate this instructable to them and how awesome they are.

Like my projects? Like seeing sneak peeks of things? Then follow me on Twitter @gmjhowe

(think you can do it better? then please do!)
1 year of pro membership to the first person to reproduce this instructable and post it in the comments!

Step 1: Tools & Materials

  • A vintage camera with a leather/plastic grip
  • Sugru
  • Masking tape or Sellotape
  • Craft knife
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Printer (inkjet or laser works fine)
  • Printer Paper (of course)

Step 2: Cutting Out the Design

Choose a design that you want to use on your computer.

A good choice is to pick a letter or symbol. You could easily produce two letters for someones initials, or just the first letter of their first name.

Remember to pick a simple font, as you are going to need to cut it out by hand.

In this instructable you will see two designs featured. An Ampersand (based off my logo) which was for me, and an 'Omega' symbol which is my Sisters handle as I made one of these custom cameras for her as well.

Next you want to use some sellotape to stick down your design on the grip, where you want your inlay.

Trace the edge of the design with your craft knife, once you have completed the edge the inner paper section should come away. (easy to work out where you have cut).

If your letter has a counter (the fancy graphic designer word for the enclosed bits in letters) be sure to cut that out first. Not a major issue, as you can just tape it back down to cut those out.

Once you have peeled off the paper and tape, you should faintly be able to see the edge of your design, using your craft knife, or a small flat head screw driver work to life the edge of the design away, this should come away easily in one piece. However some cameras may break up into several bits.

Once you are doing you should have a nice recess in the grip, showing the metal/plastic underneath.

Step 3: Remask the Grip

This may look like you have gone back a step, but you have not. 

Next we want to protect the actual grip from getting engrained with sugru. Cover the entire shape with sellotape, then use the craft knife to trace the edge of your design then remove the middle (the bit you want to be filled with sugru).

The reason we do not just use the paper mask from before is that sugru could easily end up getting pushed between the paper and the camera.

Step 4: Inlay With Sugru

Crack open your packet of Sugru.

Take of a small amount and carefully press into the recess, the Sugru should be easy to handle. Try not to get too much on the tape, however it does not need to be super neat.

Because the tape prevents the Sugru from sticking to the grip you can easily tidy up with a craft knife afterwards.

Either use some rubber gloves, or the packet from the Sugru to get a nice flat finish. If you make the nice fingerprint finish then you can do without.

Let the Sugru cure for the time specified on the packet before removing the tape or trimming the shape.

Step 5: Finish

After you Sugru is cured, and you have trimmed down the edges you should have a nice visually striking custom vintage camera.

Its a nice simple modification, it gives you a better grip and it looks damned cool.

Let me know what you think. Be sure to show any pictures of you variations of this instructable.

- gmjhowe

Hurricane Lasers Contest

Participated in the
Hurricane Lasers Contest



    • Frozen Treats Challenge

      Frozen Treats Challenge
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest

    12 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 5

    That's "cut" not "rot" ! I don't see any "edit" button for comments. Sigh.



    6 years ago on Step 5

    A thought: You could use one of the bits rot off in the first place to emboss the surface to match the camera's grip texture. (The actual pattern would be "backwards", but no one would notice.)


    4 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Because Sugru are a lovely company, that started off with a maker just like myself.

    Because their product is much better than the DIY methods.

    Because they as a company support the maker scene in so many ways, they always keep my Hackspace topped up with Sugru.

    Because really, its not that expensive a product.

    Now, go spam somewhere else please.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I'm glad Sugru's not made by, say, 3M but that's hardly relevant here - I'm just passing on some advice on an ALTERNATIVE to the readers of your post.

    Sugru may well keep your hackspace happily supplied, but the rest of us have to BUY the stuff and it IS expensive compared to making oogoo. Oogoo works just as well, once you've learned how to get it to be of a consistent texture.

    You stated my post was "spam". Spam infers 3 things - (a) that I would benefit somehow personally (b) that the text is unwanted by READERS (not you - others reading this column) and (c) less crucially, that it's unrelated to the subject.

    Absolutely NONE of those three inferences is the case. My reply was not spam.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Indeed, I agree, spam was prehaps the wrong word to use. Oobleck is great stuff. However Sugru did start off as one girl (Jane) playing around and developing an idea.

    Also, the Sugru I used in this instructable was given to me as one of their last orange packs (I tweeted I was dissapointed orange was not available as a base colour anymore) they saw my tweet and sent me a couple of their last orange packs.

    Things like that make it a company worth supporting, and this instructable is a tribute to that.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction


    Careful, friend.
    gmjhowe has a massive chip on his shoulder.
    He might have stuck it there permanently with Sugru.


    P.S. I just purchased some Sugru. It sounds ideal for some of my antique camera restorations.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Just a thought, But if you apply tape to the grip first, they tape your logo/font/deign over that and cut through everything you could save a step and hopefully end up with a cleaner edge...

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Use double sided tape on the camera then your template. Save messing about with multiple layers of tape.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Both great suggestions, I did actually use that method on another camera.

    As for which tape to use, make sure its something 'low-tack', these grips can be a bit loose, and bits of detail can get pulled off or up at the edges.

    However, double sided tape is a great idea.

    Pixie Puddle

    6 years ago on Introduction

    just seeing the cover picture alone and I knew this was yours, looking good, :)

    wow this looks great! this technique would probably work on tons of other stuff too, have you tried inlaying sugru on other objects?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I used it to inlay some grooves on some plastic, it also works really well if you have a bit of laser engraved acrylic or wood.