The never-ending bellows fabric question

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Ty G

The thin darkroom cloth... Porter's quit carrying it, then Freestyle Photo picked it up, now they don't have it; and Freestyle told me that the company "delta" has stopped making it.

I know Turner bellows calls their fabric "vinyl impregnated neoprene" What is this?, Google gives me nothing.

P.S. the commando cloth that some companies are selling is really thick and not completely lightproof (I tried a sample).

So, does anyone know of a THIN lightproof fabric? It would most likely be rubber or vinyl coated on one side.

Thanks, Ty
 

ic-racer

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That is not good info. I went to McMaster Carr and personally checked all the rubberized cloth they had and non of it was suitable for a bellows. Way to thick and not light tight.
 

Curt

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What about a nice, high quality thin leather?

I'd be tempted to give that a try, the Kodak 2D 8x10 I'm restoring has a leather bellows and it folds like a glove and only has one small tear near the bellows frame that can easily be repaired, not that the bellows is bad but it was caused by the former user.
 
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Ty G

Leather is not a good route to go if you are relying on that being your "lightproof" layer. Leather has lots of very small pinholes that tend to enlarge a little as time goes on. Now if you have a good inside layer, it is very nice looking.
 
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My Kodak 2D has leather bellows, but the inner layer is cloth, even when the leather corners are cracked it is light tight.
 

Curt

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My Kodak 2D has leather bellows, but the inner layer is cloth, even when the leather corners are cracked it is light tight.

I took a look a while ago and the one I have is cloth lined also. If the leather is not lightproof then it's back to the question of obtaining a lightproof material for the entire bellow or a liner.
 

mr rusty

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never had any need for bellows fabric, but has anyone experimented with making any by perhaps laminating a woven fabric with maybe a thin flexible heat sensitive vinyl sheet- that's easily available in many thicknesses and colours for making up heat-welded plastic blow up toys. I think I would be doing some experimenting - don't muck up the household clothes iron tho! :wink:

Something like arbetex might be good as well - its a cloth backed "synthetic leather" coated material and would almost certainly be light tight. might be a bit soft though but could be easily laminated to a stiffening material. http://www.hewit.com/acatalog/Cloth.html

just a thought
 
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ic-racer

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When making a 'single layer' bellows, I used thin 'tissue' paper (craft type, not "Kleenex") on the inside. Otherwise glue on the inside of the bellows material between the ribs can stick together when it is folded up (if you are using contact glue).
 

RalphLambrecht

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The thin darkroom cloth... Porter's quit carrying it, then Freestyle Photo picked it up, now they don't have it; and Freestyle told me that the company "delta" has stopped making it.

I know Turner bellows calls their fabric "vinyl impregnated neoprene" What is this?, Google gives me nothing.

P.S. the commando cloth that some companies are selling is really thick and not completely lightproof (I tried a sample).

So, does anyone know of a THIN lightproof fabric? It would most likely be rubber or vinyl coated on one side.

Thanks, Ty

Why not have the professionals make you one?

http://www.custombellows.co.uk

They do custom bellows and made one for my Linhof at 1/4 the original price.
 

PeteZ8

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True, leather would probably need a liner.

Soloution #2, cheap and easy. Buy one of the Kalt large changing bags and cut it up. Or use a single layer of that inside the leather for a nicer finish. Attach it with a good flexible cement like 3M 8088 trim adhesive. It's designed to work on fabrics and leathers for attaching automotive trim like headliners and leather/fabric wrapped trim peices. http://www.shop3m.com/60455030050.html

Just brainstorming here never had to make a bellows before.
 

ic-racer

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The changing bag is a good idea for smaller bellows, but its not big enough for an 8x10 bellows. Obviously appropriate material is produced and sold to the people who make changing bags and bellows, but there seems to be a lack of consumer availability presently.

Dead Link Removed might sell the raw materials, as they are an industrial supplier, not just a 'photography bellows maker.'

However, you might consider having Dead Link Removed. They do give a very reasonable price for the complete bellows. When I inquired, the price was less than both Western Bellows and the place in UK.
 
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Curt

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The first camera I made, a 4x5 wood folder like a Wista, I used black cloth for the out side thin kraft paper on the inside and aluminum foil in the middle. It is light tight 30 years later although it doesn't get heavy use it has lasted and not broken down, I used a 3M spray adhesive and used film for the ribs.
 

R Shaffer

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I have some small samples of Tough Tek. It's like rubberized 1 side with a pebble texture and fiber on the other. It seems to be light proof and quite thin. I'm not sure how you would get it or any nylon to hold a tight fold. I got it in a sample pack from these guys

http://www.owfinc.com/

I used to make a lot of my own backpacking gear and these guys were a pleasure to deal with.

They also have neoprene & hypalon. I'd be interested to hear if you find a good fabric.
 
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Ty G

Couple answers; I have thought of outsourcing my bellows, I called one company, never called me back. Yes, I know there are others such as Turner bellows. The cameras I make are 1860's, so I need square corner bellows, not clipped. I have had no luck outsourcing things such as ground glass, etc. Companies don't like dealing with small guy. And the products are not "there" when I need them (two month window).

R. Shaffer, that looks promising for an inside layer. For what its worth, I am getting in some ripstop parachute material to use for the outside layer. This will not be lightproof, but I like the watertightness of it, as I don't want someone out with one of my cameras to get caught in a storm somewhere and the bellows get water ladden and come apart.
 

Greg_E

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Do a search for Barry Young and see if he would be able to build the bellows or maybe tell you where you can find material. He's up in Washington state. Might be worth the time spent.
 

salihonba

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I quit searching materials who can block light completely in one layer, instead, since bellows are made in three layers, all together they are light proof is enough to me.
Out side layer is Chinese silk, cutting sheet as ribs, and inner is cotton cloth or darkroom nylon cloth, the glue is acrylic white glue made for fabric, they brings me very good bellows.
SANY0423.JPG
 

Curt

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There are two or three camps, those who have a new one made to order, $$$$$, those who find a used replacement, or get lucky at it, and those who choose to make their own.

I've gotten lucky in finding NOS and excellent used, but can make a bellows too. If I was flush with money I'd probably have Camera Bellows or the New Camera Bellows, forgot the name, make all of mine. I bought a brand new 5x7 Canham bellows for $45.00 on the Internet, it has the metal ends attached and ready to go and is long. I'm planning to make a nice 5x7 field camera from Honduras Mahogany that has been in my shop for decades. I have the rack and pinion and gg, satin snow. I did buy some of that dark cloth from Freestyle when they had it, I'll keep it for some special projects. I found out that the Ebony cameras have Goat skin so I looked and found that I can get some in the .008 and thicker, not the same Goat skin but many different kinds. A layered bellows could be a very nice and lasting one with a skin.
 

Curt

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I quit searching materials who can block light completely in one layer, instead, since bellows are made in three layers, all together they are light proof is enough to me.
Out side layer is Chinese silk, cutting sheet as ribs, and inner is cotton cloth or darkroom nylon cloth, the glue is acrylic white glue made for fabric, they brings me very good bellows.
SANY0423.JPG
You did a great job on that bellows!
 

totalamateur

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You might try those cheezy 99 cent reflective survival blankets for a layer, I'm pretty sure they are light tight, and a very very thin.
 

Galah

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Hey guys,

In the world of (folk) music making, the "free reed' instrument makers (concertinas, accordions, bandoneons, etc) make/use bellows that look to me to be almost identical in construction to those found in bellows style cameras.

Maybe the materials they use to make their bellows are also suitable for camera making? :smile:
 

J0B00

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Dead Link Removed

I called this place and apparently they have a 2-ply .012" thick black cotton cloth with a rubber coating in the middle that they say is 100% light tight and can also be used to make camera bellows, as well...its just not listed on the website. Its approx $35 a lineal yard and is 60" wide. I'm going to get some for a couple of Whole Plate walnut wet-plate cameras I'm making. If things turn out right, I'll have burgundy fabric on the outside which I think will look dandy with the dark walnut.

Andy
 

ic-racer

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I'm considering buying some just to have in case I need to make another bellows.
 
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