My Dad has collected magic lanterns and optical toys my whole life. You can see some of his beautiful collection on his website. Many years ago he wrote a book on peepshows. Not the seedy kind you're thinking of. Here's a bit of a review of the book he wrote:
Peep show connotes cheap, coarse, illicit entertainment, but Balzer points out that a peep show is just "a closed, or semi-closed, box having at least one viewing hole." Originally a medium of itinerant exhibitors, the peep show was popular at fairs and on city streets, where vendors would sing and "sound" musical instruments (as opposed to playing music on them) to attract and amuse a crowd waiting patiently for turns to pay for a glimpse through the viewing hole. A glimpse of what? Well, the menu of attractions was limited only by proprietor creativity. Risque attractions existed, but in their heyday peep shows featured panoramic displays and artistic and fantastic treatments for general audiences--family entertainment, that is. Many displays were simple dioramas with lighting effects provided by candles or light flaps. More elaborate peep shows incorporated hand-cranked or hook-and-string mechanisms that allowed display of multiple and moving images. Beautifully and copiously illustrated, well documented, Balzer's presentation of a nearly forgotten popular entertainment is excellent history, excellent amusement. -- Mike Tribby
Peepshows are sometimes also called tunnel books.
For Father's Day I decided to make my Dad a hand made paper peepshow or tunnel book. I messed up a bit on some of the math of the accordion elements, but it still turned out really well! Check it out:
I kept my peepshow really simple. I used black cardstock for the base and then drew some illustrations on white cardstock with a black pen. I then hand cut all the elements and glued them in place.
I wasn't sure about keeping it black and white at first, but I think it's a striking choice. And the good news is that -- even with figuring out the math -- this whole project took me just a few hours.
For the sake of clarity, I made a little sample peepshow to help you understand how it's put together:
If you're interested in making your own, there are tons of free tutorials online -- both video and photo. And, I'm excited to share that I'll be teaching an in-person "Make Your Own Illustrated Tunnel Book" class on Saturday, July 29 10am-5pm. The focus of the class will be both on creating the book form (I'll provide templates for you to use and take home with you) and on creating your own personal illustrations. Don't worry if you feel that you can't draw. That's part of the class! Plus we'll be making a really cool box envelope to house the book! I'm hosting the class at my home, outside of Boston, MA, so space is very limited. The cost is $135. You can sign up below:
Supply list and location information will be e-mailed to all those who sign up.
I want to play around with this idea some more! I think some non-square openings would be neat. I think you could use stamps and die cuts instead of drawings. I think there are a lot of exciting possibilities!
Thanks for stopping by!