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Mr. Potato Head Pinhole Camera

One joy of pinhole photography is applying scientific and optical principles to common, everyday objects. As you continue experimenting with pinhole, advanced concepts will become more attractive and you will begin to dream about wonderful camera creations and endless possibilities.

Mr. Potato Head
paper negative

I created the Mr. Potato Head camera for inclusion in The Pinhole Camera; however, based on legal advice (copyright issues) I chose to omit it from the final book. It is my pleasure to share with you this cool toy camera and a brief construction guide.

This camera is created from an ordinary children's toy. The pinhole is situated in the mouth. The camera accepts a black and white photo paper negative as the light-sensitive material which is processed in standard chemistry. Incidentally, you will need a darkroom space to process the paper negatives.


Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
You can make a camera out of the most mundane objects and once you understand the techniques of creating a standard pinhole, the world is your creative oyster!

Material List
So if you are ready, let's walk through the process of creating the camera. Prepare a clean, flat work surface such as a dining room table and gather the following materials so that we can get started:

  1. Mr. Potato Head by Hasbro
  2. Black electrical tape
  3. Black acrylic paint
  4. Strong adhesive glue
  5. Aluminum square cut from soda can
  6. Small sewing needle
  7. Black and white photographic paper

Companion Book Chapters
Consult these chapters of The Pinhole Camera for additional tricks, tips, and help: Chapter 2 (Beginner Track), Chapter 2 (Advanced Track), and Chapter 10.

Step 1
Gather your eyes, nose, ears, mouth, feet, and any other miscellaneous pieces. When you are satisfied with your arrangement, glue your pieces into place with a strong adhesive such as Superglue or Liquid Nails.


Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
One of the most fun things about creating this camera is that you can configure the potato with any accessories that you prefer. My Mr. Potato Head looks a little something like myself!

Step 2
Once your pieces have dried and are secure, check for any gaps or openings in your potato. The slot for the foot is a very wide gap. I fit a piece of thick cardboard inside the toy to cover this whole. Fill in any extra gaps with black caulk, sealant, or black tape. At this building stage, you must seal the camera from all light except from the pinhole opening (the toy's mouth).

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
Consult Chapter 2 of the book for additional hints and tips on making your camera light-tight.

Step 3
Once your toy is sealed, coat the interior with black paint. Flat black paint is preferrable, but glossy will also work for this camera. Hold the toy opening close to your eye and check for any light leaks. You may need to apply several coats of paint to seal the translucent plastic.

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
Remember that we will use the rear hatch to load and unload our camera, so ensure that this opening can be used in the future.

Step 4
Construct a simple pinhole and mount it to the inside of the toy with black tape. Create a black tape shutter and place it over the mouth opening. Consult the Beginner Track of Chapter 2 for a step-by-step walk-through of creating a basic pinhole.

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
View of Pinhole mounted to inside of toy.

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
View of pinhole from front of toy.

Step 5
Load your toy creation with black and white photo paper. If you are new to working with photographic paper or in a darkroom setting, consult Chapter 4 (Beginner Track) and Chapter 10 in the book for practical advice. Seal the back hatch, along each seam, with black electrical tape and ensure that your tape shutter is in place. Take your camera outdoors and make your first Mr. Potato Head exposure.


Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
Egg Hunt I. 2009
While my daughter was preoccupied with counting her Easter eggs, I took this quick 12 second exposure. In my opinion, the accidental framing to exclude her head is a wonderful mistake.
Creating a camera is all about having fun and even as an adult I like to have fun. If you do not have an extra toy around the house, go purchase one from Amazon and start your own creative camera project this week.
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