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Last week Kristen and I had a fantastic time attending the Tai Pei event in Dallas. This was the first official sponsored event we had ever attended as bloggers, so we had no idea what to expect. But free food? I’m all in!

I’m happy to say that free food was not the only exciting part of the event. We were there to learn how Tai Pei is turning boring, typical meals into something much more interesting. Rachel Rushing, a local Dallas artist who founded Sunset Art Studios, was there to share an extra special DIY project. She taught us to take cleaned out Tai Pei food containers and turn them into cameras.

Yep. You read that right. We made a camera out of a Tai Pei container.

Food and Fun

We tried so many new, great tasting Tai Pei entrees – General Tso’s chicken, chicken chow mein, beef & broccoli, egg rolls, and pot stickers. They have a new single-serve line of Asian inspired frozen meals that’s made with real, quality ingredients (check their store locator to find where it’s available near you). I’m an appetizer lover, so of course I fell in love with the egg rolls and pot stickers (especially the pot stickers – pure and delicious goodness!).  But I also really enjoyed the General Tso’s chicken.

As we ate, Rachel shared several crafts she made beforehand, using Tai Pei’s new convenient packaging. She showed us examples of all the awesome projects you can do using the leftover Tai Pei containers. Cement vases, cement pencil holders, geometric candles, creative light coverings, and colorful decorations you can make with kids were among my favorites. She even let us take them home as bonus gifts! But the one craft we were all eager to try out was the pinhole camera.

And lucky for us, Rachel sent us home with instructions. So now I get to share them with you!

Tai Pei Pinhole Camera

DIY cameras, we have learned, can be made from almost any container – even oddly shaped ones like the Tai Pei ones! With no lenses, no focusing, no viewfinder, etc., pinhole is considered the “ultimate” DIY in photography. There’s no precise manual for it, and it takes a lot of trial and error to get it right.

What You Need:

Tai Pei containers (empty, clean)

Gaff Tape (both black and decorative colors)

Aluminum Can (empty, clean)

Small X-acto Knife

Silver Gelatin Darkroom Paper

Developer, Stop, Fix, and Hypo

Trays, Tongs

Gloves, Apron

Timer

Darkroom Light

Squeege and Tray, or Dryer

Blackout Curtains (you can also tape up foil if that is more readily available)

What To Do:

First, the darkroom set up.

After you tape up foil or hang up blackout curtains and have every nook and cranny covered so that NO POSSIBLE LIGHT comes through – at all – get your darkroom ready. You’ll need to lay out a developing station: tray 1 – developer, tray 2 – stop, tray 3 – fix, tray 4 – empty (you’ll run water over it later then add hypo), and last – your drying rack.

Next, the camera design.

Now you need to make your pinhole camera. Take your empty and clean Tai Pei container and wrap the outside in black Gaff tape (the lid and bucket should be wrapped separateyl). You can use the decorative colored Gaff tape to, well, decorate!

Using your X-acto knife, cut a small square about 1in x 1in out of one side of the Tai Pei container. Cut out a larger square from the aluminum can. Use more Gaff tape to tape the square aluminum piece inside the wall of the Tai Pei container so that it completely covers the square cut out. You want to make sure it’s completely adhered, so that absolutely no light gets through.

Take a small but sharp hook or ice pick or maybe even a safety pin and poke a tiny pinhole in the center of the aluminum square. Be careful! If it’s too big, your pictures become fogged won’t come out clear. Aim for teeny tiny and it’ll give you more control over exposure time.

Now, the photo paper.

Now for the photo paper! Go into your darkroom and make sure it’s pitch black. Not even a cell phone light can be on or it’ll ruin your photo paper! You can use special darkroom lights that are red or orange, but no white lights. (In Rachel’s demonstration, someone’s cell phone flashed for less than a second and it ruined the test photos she was developing.) Take out your photo paper and lay it across the back wall inside the Tai Pei container. Put the lid on and cover the pinhole in front either with a finger or more Gaff tape.

Time for trial and error.

Ok, next the fun part – actually taking the photo. Go into whatever room or area you plan on taking your photo in. Still lifes are recommended because nothing moves no matter how long you have to sit and wait for the photo to finish. This is where it gets tricky – depending on the size of your pinhole, exposure time could be anywhere from 30 seconds to 6 minutes. Wait too long and the photo turns black from over exposure. Don’t wait long enough, and your print will come out white.

Quickly cover the pinhole back up and head back to your darkroom.

Get it developed.

Now is the time to develop! Place your photo paper in the developer tray for 2 minutes, gently moving it around in the chemical bath. (This is where a kitchen timer comes in handy since you can’t use your phone timer.) Immediately move the photo to the stop bath for 30 seconds, gently agitating it again. This will stop the photo from developing. Next dip it in the fixer solution; gently move it around in the chemical for 5 minutes. The hypo bath is next – gently agitate the photo in the bath for 3 minutes. Lastly, you’ll need to run it under water for about 20 minutes as a final wash.

Now let it dry!

We only had 1 person in our group with a photo that turned out well. (They actually end up upside down, flipped backwards, and the lights and darks inverted.) Everyone else’s was either over exposed or fogged to a point beyond recognition. Even though Kristen’s and my photos didn’t turn out, we still had a lot of fun making a camera ourselves and learning about the photo developing process.

~

DIY Camera using Tai Pei food containers.

We Love Tai Pei

After such a fun and wonderful evening learning about photography, DIY cameras, but above all – Tai Pei Asian Food! – I know my family will be adding Tai Pei frozen foods to our grocery list from now on. The single serve line is so convenient for anyone near a microwave; my husband won’t have to worry about making a lunch for work, as long as we have Tai Pei on hand. Not only are they delicious and quick for working moms (even moms who work from home, like me!), but the new packaging gives you the added bonus of having extra craft supplies on hand! Not only to make a camera with, but also party decorations (wrap piñata style tissue paper around them), candle molds, and more.

Stock up on the wide range of Tai Pei entrée options the next time you go grocery shopping and use this coupon. (Find the store closest to you here.)

Kristen and I had so much more fun at the Tai Pei event than we expected. We met lots of other bloggers, finally put a face to our Influence Central contacts, ate delicious food, got to craft along the way, and – hold up – we both received parting gifts.

It’s official. I’m never passing up another event opportunity again.

xoxo

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Get organized and stay creative.

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