I’ve been dreaming up a little toy camera for Lilly for a few months now. Sure we love her Instax Mini that produces mini prints instantly, and her plastic used-to-work-but-not-anymore hand me down toy camera from Japan, but I love watching her play pretend more than anything in the world. Her imagination is wildly specific and she dreams up scenarios I usually can’t even decipher. Making her a toy that lets her brain do ALL the thinking is, well, magic.
My favorite part about this toy camera was that making it was quick and easy. So easy, people. And did I mention cheap?! So. Cheap.
- Wooden camera “parts”: All my parts are from JoAnn Fabrics. Wooden findings (buttons, furniture finials, round discs), a rounded rectangle plaque, and various sizes of the same type of plaque but in circles.
- 36” or so of camera “strap” material: mine is a canvas strap purchased in the “by the yard” section (on rolls near the ribbon/edging etc.)
- Letter Stamps and an Ink Pad (make sure the letters fit onto your strap!)
- Krazy Glue, Gorilla Glue, any kind of permanent glue. Hot glue might work too but I didn’t try it so I can’t be sure! I used permanent fabric glue for some of my joinings but I think the others worked better.
- Acrylic craft paint. (Any kind will do- I had a zillion little bottles of this on hand.)
- Chalkboard paint and chalkboard pen. (Had leftover of this on hand from other projects but you can buy it in a cute little pot that is fairly cheap.)
- Wood stain. (Again, had it on hand. Also comes in cute little pots- on the cheap!)
- Hammer and short nails. (Optional but stabilizes the camera strap for more wear and tear.)
- Take all stickers off of your wooden pieces. Sand away any sticky residue with sandpaper until wood is smooth.
- Stamp your camera strap. I repeated the word “Click!” in a rainbow pattern all along the strap. You could repeat your child’s name, write a message, whatever you want. “Budding Photog” would have been tre cute!
- Heat set the stamped ink by lightly ironing the strap. This thing will never be washed so it’s not that big of a deal but I didn’t want the ink rubbing off on my kids (not that they are uber clean or anything… ha!)
- Paint yer parts! Do this however you want. I chose to leave some natural wood and then go for a few fun brights.
- Prepare your base for chalkboard paint by marking off the “screen” with tape. Any kind of tape will probably do. Painters tape, masking tape, electrical tape… you get it.
- Paint your chalkboard screen and let it dry. Remove tape.
- Stain the base of your camera for some fun character. After you stain, be sure to use a dry paper towel and really, rub rub rub all that extra greasy stain off of your toy. It’s kinda gross. And no fun for kids.
- I dotted around the screen in white paint just for fun. Think it adds some extra pizzaz, no?
- Assemble all of your pieces with glue. I glued the edge of the strap to the back last, and glued some buttons down on top of each edge. If you have a willing husband or you want to wield the hammer/drill by yourself (baha, I’m envisioning broken fingers over here) add some nails or screws to secure the strap. Let the whole thing dry for a few days (cools off those gross stain/chalkboard paint smells) and TA DA! You have a super cute fun toy for your tiny person to enjoy!
- If you are curious, I wrote this on the back of the camera “screen”: Hello there little photographer! There’s so much for you to see. I am your new camera. Come take some pics with me! CHEESE!
This project cost me a grand total of $8.00. Granted I had many of the project materials already on hand. But even if you had to buy the paint, stain and glue I already had- you are probably looking at under $20.00 for a totally unique, non-battery-operated toy any little person would love to play with. Remember to ALWAYS use 40% off coupons at the craft store! Always, always, always!
I’m bathing my child right now. This instant. I swear. And giving her a manicure. Good heavens.
Wanna know a secret? This was my SECOND try at a play camera for the girls. This was my first try using felt instead of wood:
I was totally unhappy with how this one was shaping up (who in the heck decided to never tell me how hard it is to cut fussy shapes out of felt?! Sheesh.)
But Lilly still digs it.
There’s even a clear vinyl pocket on the back that she can slide real pictures into to show up on her “screen”. Not how I envisioned it turning out, but if she loves it? I’m happy.
Christmas presents, anyone?!
Make it. Common.