End of Summer

With a 1917 Kodak 1A Autographic Special, adapted to 120 medium-format film.

The Kodak will at some point need an overhaul of its …original overhaul. When I got it, the bellows were basically bellows-shaped dust and bits of paper, so I made a new set for it.

But bellows material is really hard to come by because the stuff needs to be able to hold a fold like paper, but also be light-tight, and ideally water-tight, and also be extremely thin. At least for folding cameras – for bulkier large format cameras, thinness isn’t so critical and material choice gets considerably easier. There are materials that tick some of those boxes but not many that do all of it well. What I used back then is faux-lether vinyl with adhesive backing, glued to thick paper ribs, and spray painted with a plastidip kind of rubber paint. That looks very good and it is thin enough but the plastidip on the inside sticks to itself quite a lot, making the bellows very difficult to unfold.

And my Kodak already came with a broken-off front standard – it’s currently holding together with epoxy and hopes and dreams – so stressing it every time I open the camera feels especially bad.

I recently got a blackout curtain from IKEA (“Bengta”) which is very thin and 100% light-tight (not all of them are) and I think I’ll try combining that with a paper backing.

The frustrating part about making bellows is that you only really know if they’ll work at the end, after hours of work and more hours of glue drying time. So I’ll be procrastinating on this one for a while, I think.

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