How to … make a “Victorian camera” photo album

At our most recent Family Fun event, the children made photograph albums loosely based on the Victorian camera that is on display in the Gallery for the “Set in Silver” exhibition.

This is an easy and inexpensive project to do, but an adult must be involved as the corrugated cardboard needs to be cut with a stanley knife.

What you need

  • a photograph of yourself
  • corrugated cardboard (we used up old cardboard boxes)
  • at least 3 sheets of white A4 paper
  • brown card
  • coloured card
  • gold paper
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • yarn
  • needle
  • stanley knife (ADULTS ONLY)
  • hole punch

1. Cut out two rectangles of corrugated cardboard and 6 rectangles of white paper 14 cm x 16.5 cm.  This step requires a stanley knife and should only be done by an adult.

With each piece of cardboard, bend one of the shorter sides to crease it 2.5 cm from the edge.  Now punch the cardboard in the middle of the creased ends, and do the same with the paper.  These will be the outside covers and paper leaves of your album.

2. Next measure and cut out 2 squares of brown card and 2 squares of coloured card (your choice of colour), each 14cm x 14cm.  Glue the brown squares on one side of each piece of corrugated card, and the coloured squares on the other side, leaving the strips with the punched holes free.  The brown sides will be the outside covers of your album, and the coloured sides will be the inside covers.

If you would like to decorate the inside covers of your album, now would be a good time to do it.  Some of the Family Fun particpants really went to town on decorating theirs, like the girl below who wove a fantastic checked pattern with strips of coloured card.

3. Next, cut a length of yarn and thread it into a needle.  Place the back cover of your album on the table, with the brown side facing down.  Line up the 6 sheets of white paper and place them on top of the back cover, with the punched holes all lining up.  Lastly, place the front cover of your album on top, with the holes in line and the brown side facing you.

Sew all the layers together, poking the threaded needle through one of the holes at the back of the album, and bringing it through to the front.  Pull the needle and thread through, leaving a length hanging down from the back.  Now push the needle through the other hole, this time from front to back.  Pull the needle out at the back, and then do the whole process again two or three times, until all the layers of your album are securely attached to each other.  Finish with the needle and thread hanging at the back of your album.

When you have done this, turn the album over, remove the needle and tie a neat knot with the two ends of yarn.  Trim off any loose ends so that your knot is small and neat.

4. The next stage is to draw the ‘lens’ for the front of your camera album.  For this, you will need to draw two circles on a piece of gold paper, one inside the other.  We drew around the top and bottom of a plastic cup, so the diameters of our circles were about 5cm and 7.5 cm.
Then cut the circles out to make a gold ring.  The easiest way to do it is to cut around the outside circle and then fold the circle in half, with the pencilled side facing outwards.  Now you will see a semi-circle.  Cut this out, making sure you cut through both layers.  When you unfold it, you will have a gold ring.

5. Place the gold ring on your photograph so that you can see your face through the hole in the middle of the ring.  Draw round the outer edge of the ring onto your photograph, and cut the circle out.

6. Now glue the back of your photograph and stick it down in the middle of the front cover of your album.  Glue the gold ring carefully over it so that it looks like you are ‘behind the lens’ of the album.

Your album is now completed.  You can decorate the outside further if you like.  We stuck gold circles on ours to make them look like the screws on the Victorian camera.

And it doesn’t have to be just a photo album.  Some of our Family Fun particpants turned theirs into sketch books instead and drew pictures in them.

Thanks to our lovely volunteer Emma for modelling the ‘how to’ shots.

Posted by: Sarah and Lynsey


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