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The Kid Should See This

How to make a thaumatrope

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Thaumatropes! Cut out a white cardboard circle. On the front, draw something on the left. On the back, draw something upside down on the right. Punch two holes in the sides of the circle, as shown above, and thread string through either side. When you twist them, they spin, visually joining the front and back images together.

This simple fish and fish bowl stop motion video shares more of what happens when you layer the drawings.

From the V&A in London:

“The thaumatrope was a popular optical toy of the nineteenth century. Cards that were usually either circular or rectangular were printed with a picture on each side. When the card was spun, sometimes using attached pieces of string, one complete image was formed. A popular example was a bird and a cage. The images were often humorous and this set features a boy being thrown from a donkey and a bull chasing a man.

“The illusion is created due to the phenomenon known as persistence of vision. This is when the eye will remember an image for a brief moment and, given two images to see in a short space of time, will combine them.”

Here’s that classic example from MrHenrysVids:

Read more about the history of thaumatropes from Jack and Beverly’s Optical Toys.

• Make a science spinner with The Francis Crick Institute.

Watch more optical toy videos on TKSST:
• How to make a flipbook
The footstep illusion & more optical tricks
How to make amazing anamorphic illusions
• Pixar’s Zoetrope and how animation works

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