I recently came across Leslie Strom’s article on viewfinders entitled The Value of Looking Through a Hole. I love the way she writes (I wish I had thought of that title) and I highly recommend her blog, This Offbeat Life.
I won’t go into the usage and purpose here as there are probably thousands of places where this information can be found, but I thought that someone may be interested in how to construct a very sturdy and field tested version of what can be a quite valuable painting accessory. It really is a very, very inexpensive and easy (if you can cut a mat) way to make a viewfinder, and one as good as any you can buy (in my humble opinion).
The first one I made, Figure 1 (click to enlarge), worked very well, I just didn’t like the aesthetics of it. It was a little rough around the edges, so to speak, with handwritten canvas sizes. Also, it did have a tendency to bend, causing the door to fall out, because I used 2 strips of board on top instead of a full, square piece.
The next, and current, version (Figure 2) sports beveled edges all around and printed canvas sizes applied with clear printing labels, and is very sturdy. I even glued a little thumb tab (not a necessity) to the sliding door to make it easier to push up and down.
My viewfinder consists simply of two pieces of mat board (Figure 3, a and b) 4 inch square each, glued together. There is an 1 3/8 inch square, cut out of the center of both pieces, with the exception that with the top piece, the square cutout extends through to it’s bottom edge. This creates a perfectly fitting, sliding door. The center square cutout is discarded.
The “secret” to it working properly is that the edges of the square cutout are beveled 45°, which creates a slide and prevents the door (Figure 3, c) from falling out.
I used a Proportional Scale to determine where to put the canvas sizes on the side of the opening. To make it slide smoother, put a bit of candle wax on the edges of the door.
Featured Image: Dune Path by MTMcClanahan