Chasing Light Artistic Tools for Creatives

Beautiful Hand Crafty Frames

Nikki HarrisonComment

Frames are EXPENSIVE for pro photographers and for retail clients. A fun easy way to take a cheap thrifted frame and make it into something beautiful is by using craft paint, embellishments and a little hot glue.

I bought this frame at Value Village for $3.99


I always have crafting items around for other projects, and so I pulled out a few items I had laying around and decided to set to work on a pretty frame for a pretty picture.


First I grabbed some craft painting and compared the colors in the image I was going to use, so I could match it to the embellishments and image.  I did a coat of the beige, I added hints of the pinky peach and touched the edges with white. Then I let it dry for about an hour.


Once it was dry, I hot glued various paper flowers and decorative butterfly's to it, as well as a little pink ribbon. Wella! So easy, and so pretty.

If you like this, we would love to see your frames if you decide to try it.  Feel free to share with your social media friends too!

Another Painted Backdrop

Nikki Harrison4 Comments

I have blogged about this before, about painting my own backdrops.  The first time I ever did it I blogged about it.

I have been doing it every now and again since then, much more successfully.  I needed a really long one, it's been bothering me for a while now.  I have nice high ceilings in my studio, and really needed to be able to take advantage of the them, while keeping enough back drop on the floor for those more creative shots.

This time I used a 10x18 piece of canvas, and it really is the perfect size for my needs.  I got my canvas from a company out of Chicago, called Duck Canvas, I didn't want the sewing seam through the middle like the first couple I did.  So this one is so much better.

For this one, I really wanted a dark grey(ish) color.  But I wanted it to be a little subtle with the pattern and not so bam - in your face.  I like to shoot with an ND filter in studio as well, so I did want some texture on it for those times.

My color pallet I used this time was a little odd, but I knew what I wanted.  I typically use 3 colors, this time I used 4.  My base was a bluish darker grey color.  When doing your base coat, use a nice watery blend of paint, fabric softener and water.  I know in the images of the production it looks more brown, but its not.  The next was a light beige color for sponging the light spot in the middle.  I don't use any water for this step.  I then let this step dry over night.

The next steps are a lot of hard physical work.  I used a dark brown, to emphasize the vignette, and I used a white to sponge more of the light in the middle.  I let this dry for about 15 minutes.  Then using the second lighter beige color (with lots of water and fabric softer) I got down on my knee's and systematically blended it all together by hand with a sponge.  Yes, I was dripping sweat, and didn't have to spend as much time on the treadmill yesterday because of it!  (a side benefit!)

I let that dry for several hours.  Then I painted on a more bluish dark grey, very watery - with a roller.  This really tones down all the sponging and blends it into the final look for the backdrop.

Let this dry for at least 12 hours with a fan before you even think of hanging.  (longer if you have the time)  Otherwise the canvas will become very misshaped.

Painting a Photography Back Drop Your Self

Tutorials-WorkshopsNikki Harrison

So.  I really (really) want an Oliphant Backdrop.  Really bad. BUT I am struggling with the price tag.  SO.  Considering myself an artistic person, I thought I would try to paint one myself.  This is my first attempt.  I do think I will try again.  I did tons of research and struggled to find gel medium in my area, which is the stuff that thickens the paint and allows it to be pliable and not flake off the fabric.  I could find it online, but then again it was expensive and I knew I would need a lot.  Like 1 for 1 for the paint. Very good friend of mine told me she used to paint theatrical back drops and they always used FABRIC SOFTENER!  REALLY?  Yep.  Well, I can find that!  Had to make sure it was unscented though.

Ok.  I found a large 9x12 piece of canvas at Home Depot, for $14.  I thought if I am going to screw this up the first time I do it, it should be with cheap materials, and not the nice muslin I already have.

I picked out 4 shades of paint, bought a little one for the dark base coat and 3 of those little "tester" sizes for the other three shades.  I was EXCITED.

Here it is in the three stages.

First I have to say I was so disappointed when I opened the canvas and saw it had a massive seam through the middle.  Darn.   Ok, moving on.  I had to throw the canvas into the dryer for a while, to get the straight line creases out.  I didn't mind wrinkles, but the creases had to go.  Done.

Tape that baby down on top of a plastic drop sheet so my husband doesn't kill me for painting on the nice floor.  Done.

Mixed half of some paint and same amount of Downy Unscented Fabric Softener.  Poured into an old sour cream container and shake the crap out of it.  The stuff thickens UP like pudding I tell you.  Hmmm.  Should I add water?  Some people say yes.  I probably should have.  I ran out of paint to cover the base coat.  Oh well, moving on.

Threw a fan on that puppy and cleaned up.

Next day, I did the rest of the shades because I only really waited about 2 hours between coats.

The end result?  It's too busy.  That seam KILLS me.  I know I can clone it out, but it still kills me.   I may try to paint a watery lighter color over the whole thing to soften it up a bit.  I'll keep you posted.  Worst case scenario it will make a GREAT Fairy Portrait Floor Drop **WINK





____________________________________ UPDATE:  (Several Hours Later...)

Well, not really wanting to use the backdrop as a floor drop, and still having the  nagging feeling that if I just rolled a light watery color over the entire drop, it would fix it, I caved in.  So these images are after I severely diluted the final paint color (cream) especially because I had only half a can of the tester size you get from Home Depot left.  So I used up the rest of my fabric softener and tons of water to the tiny bit of paint and pretty much rolled it over the entire 9x12 drop.  Well.  I thought I had ruined it, it just looked like crap.  I set the fan on it and went away for a few hours.  When I came back dow and attached it to my backdrop stand, I thought, wow, that looks pretty good.

Here are the final images taken of it.  I am actually super happy.  Even in spite of the stupid seam through the middle.  I will use this, a lot :)  Pretty good for $47.  It's no Oliphant Backdrop, but its not bad :)