Monday, July 4, 2011

Duct Tape Gel Wallet

As a starving teenager with extremely limited resources, sometimes one must get creative and re-purpose wholly inappropriate materials to serve your needs. In a blog post many months ago, Joe McNally discussed the method he used to sort gels for his flashes. The king of TTL small flash, Joe needed a better way to sort the myriad of colors he had, from a quarter-cut CTO to 2-stop ND filter. He was using leather business card wallets to hold them, but he felt he could do better. A local shooter found a solution in the Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card storage system. Designed for pro shooters with 10 Compact Flash cards at a time (unlike me, with only a single SD card and a spare inside a compact camera), this storage system was re-purposed by Will Foster simply by cutting the seams out of the middle of the memory card wallet (eliminating the compartments) and using that to organize gels. Very clever. Still, each Pixel Pocket Rocket is something like $20, which I was loathe to spend. Besides, it's sort of overkill since you don't really need padding around sheets of plastic. Until I did this, I was carrying my gels in my actual wallet, each one nestled beside a debit or library card. That was not working out. I wanted to stick little Velcro (sorry, hook-and-loop-fastener) bits on the sides of my gels so I could use my speed strap to attach them instead of gaffer's taping them to the flash, which was quite a fiddly and time-consuming operation. Alas, the fasteners were too thick for my wallet.

With that in mind, I created my duct tape gel organization system. I modified the instructions for a duct tape wallet I found online simply by sewing down the middle. I had no regular gray duct tape around, only camouflage, so that is what I used. I also found that regular thread was far too thin and delicate for sewing layers of duct tape, so I used a running stitch (the only one I remember from 8th grade sewing class), a very sturdy looking needle, and mint waxed dental floss (double "thread"). Besides, it's not like "quality workmanship" was what I was aiming for with this late-night project. All I wanted was something that worked. This works. It's not pretty, and I hope to move on from this to a more visually-appealing solution when I have cash to burn on visual appeal instead of food or handheld softboxes.


  1. Hey Hugo! I like your blog, despite knowing shit-all about photography - you write well. Just wanted to say that waxed dental floss is the best for all weird sewing needs! I have used it many a time to sew my ribbons onto pointe shoes. So good thinking, it is so much stronger than regular thread, embroidery floss, etc.. Also, I made a duct tape wallet once. Yours looks nicer; I used neon blue duct tape (and was about 12 years old).

  2. Thanks, Claire! Nice to know there are people out there who actually read this.