Antique Hardback Novel + Early Camera Design = Retro Art Epiphany

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It's an old book! It's an old camera! It's the most hipstery item that could possibly be pulled from a messenger's backpack!

It's also pretty freaking cool.

It is Seattleite Erin Paysse's pinhole camera, for sale on the antique art site Etsy.


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And here are its inner workings.

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Nothing more than a light-proof box with a tiny hole at one end, pinhole cameras are essentially the first and most basic form of camera. They trace their roots back to the old camera obscuras and even farther, to before people knew how to capture imagese.

Paysse, as it turns out, is pretty interesting herself. She used to be a long-range planner with the city of Seattle. But then she got laid off and decided that she wanted to start making cameras out of strange objects.

"I started with an iPhone box," she tells me over the phone. "Then I tried to find other objects that were around that I could make cameras with. I had some old funky books. You know, I didn't really care about the stories, I cared about the character of the books. So I thought: 'I could gut those out and make a camera.'"

And make a camera she did.

Despite their treatment on the Etsy site as art, she swears that her main intention in creating the items is function, not form.

"I wanted to take pictures with it," she says. "It wasn't meant to be an art piece, it was meant to be a functional camera."

It uses regular old 35mm film, and takes pictures like this:

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The cameras cost between $190 and $210, and she says she's sold 50 of them since she started making them seven months ago.

I really want one.

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