DIY – Film Canister Bag Address Tags

I’ve seen lots of used film canisters re-purposed as dangling bag accessories for sale in trendy parts of Hong-Kong. The idea is to drill or burn a small hole in the top of the plastic spool and fit a key-chain to that. I figured it would be a lot more useful to use the can to give a return contact address in case the bag is lost and found. What better way could there be than to use film?

DIY - Film Cannister Bag Address Tags

How to make one?

As I bulk load my own film, I cut off exposed film leaving about 1/2” of film still sticking out of the spool. Most labs do this too, so you should be able to get these for free by the armload at most friendly high-street labs that do their own processing.

This address tab is pretty easy to easy to tape the end of a new film too. So by using tape you don’t have to pry the can apart at all. If you are using this for film retrieval, it may be a good idea to write “Owner’s contact details in the can” in the developing notes box on the can.

DIY - Film Cannister Bag Address Tags

Show your personality and style!

You can use your favorite brand of film, but if you’re going to really hard-core, pick something rare and exciting like discontinued Fujifilm Super Presto 1600, or Kodak P3200. Or attach something cool to the keyring, like an authentic camera strap split ring attachment if you have one to spare?

How to prevent the film from going back into the can

There’s no point to this if the finder can’t find your address! I taped a bit of wood (half a toothpick will do) to the end of the roll with some high-quality Nitto tape. In the second example above, I taped the wood to the back of the leader. It’s not visible behind the darkened portion of the film.

DIY - Film Cannister Bag Address Tags

How to Expose

In some versions shown here, I included a printed name and address template. To do this, I designed a template and display it on a computer monitor. I then photographed the monitor. remember that colors will invert on a negative film, so invert the template before you expose. If you care about the cost, you can use blank first 2-3 frames (numbers 00 and 0) of a normal roll of film.

This is thrifty and saves effort + you can let your creativity go wild with the template design. You can expose a personal logo or a photo (or even the best 36 photos of your portfolio) onto the film reel. Remember, if you are using a negative, invert them on the monitor. After developed, they will come out like slides.

Film Base

I chose Rollei Retro 100 Tonal film stock because it has a clear base and string blacks. Just don’t use color negative or high speed black and white as they have a dark base. Slide film works too, but it has a black base and (obviously) you don’t need to invert the image when you expose it.

Caution: If you do include a long roll of film, spray the emulsion side with clear lacquer. Because the gelatin coating will absorb water, swell and stick together if it gets damp.

Have fun and show us your unique version!

About The Author

Dan K is a photographer based in Hong Kong. He is old school and collects film compact cameras. You can follow him on tumblr here and on twitter here. This was post originally published here.

  • Matt Haines

    “What better way could there be than to use film?” Um…you could make photos with it for one thing!!