Cheap and Easy Photography Studio

And I really mean cheap and easy.  OK, not free.   I did have to buy some plastic place mats on Amazon. But I got 12 for $18.00 which leaves plenty left over to use as place mats and as traveling work surfaces for polymer.  That, packing tape and white card  stock which I had (you could use printer paper too) and I was all set.

1PlasticPlacemats

I have one of those cloth photo tents like this one  and they are great for taking pictures of vases and bigger items.    But it’s big and unwieldy in my studio and I actually had to watch a video on how to fold it and get it back into its storage bag.    I wanted a smaller photo cube for jewelry and similarly sized items.   I could have bought something, but could not find the size I wanted.  It seems like these things come in two sizes:  tiny and enormous.

That meant making one.  I didn’t want to have to buy special paper.  I didn’t want to have to find the right size box and saw the sides out of it.  When I was finished taking pictures,  I wanted to stow the box in a drawer or on a bookshelf.  So here’s what I came up with:

2Placemat photo setupHere’s the photo setup.  I cut the place mats to size with scissors and used packing tape to make this triptych-like screen.  4open

Here’s the set up with white paper behind the triptych under it.  You can use paper and the other mats to make any kind of configuration you like.  Just tape them together.  You can put the lights anywhere to get the effect you want.  The light I am using here is nothing fancy.  It’s an LED desk lamp I bought at Five Below and it uses three AA batteries which means you can move it anywhere and not be fighting with wires.  You can get something similar on Amazon here.  Don’t pay more than $5.00 per lamp.  They’re great for traveling to which is why I originally bought them.   And don’t think you need to buy  lights if you already have something you can use.

 

So, how do the pictures look?  Let’s see.

Shooting Earrings

Here’s a setup to shoot a pair of bronze clay earrings suspended on a piece of floral wire.

The image on the left is unlit.  I used the lamp on the image on the right.  I didn’t use any photo editing software.

Here are the same images Gimped.  Click on the images a couple of times to view them full size.  Gimp is a free open-source image editor that I have used for years.  It can do anything you want.  Did I mention that it’s free?

3Folded up

This is the photo studio folded up and ready to be put away.  It hardly takes up any room at all.  If you need something bigger,  just tape on another mat or two.  If you want something smaller, cut one down.

Here’s another idea.  The plastic drawers in this storage unit are also made of translucent plastic.  Before I started using the place mats,  I got some pretty good shots using empty drawers. Plastic drawers

1Tassel on box

Here’s a tassel I laid on one of the empty drawers.  You don’t have use a place mat on the drawer like I did; simply turn it over if the underside is free from markings.  You can try putting your small, battery-operated lamps inside or outside the drawer.  Experiment.

 

2Tassel on Box closeup

Here’s a shot of the tassel with some light from the battery-operated lamp.  Not too bad.  One of the great things about these photo setups is that they are small and cheap enough to take outside into the natural light where you should be able to get some pretty good results.  Experiment!  And don’t forget to have fun.

 

 

 

Wired and Inspired!

Photo by Sarah Sorlien

I taught a wire class at for first Greater Philadelphia Polymer Artists Meetup on March 15. I was actually substituting for Olivia Surratt, who developed the class, chose the tools and materials, and provided excellent handouts (illustrated by Trish Pfaff) for the students. I have learned a great deal about wire working from Olivia and also from Beading Yoda Jeri Schatz who introduced me to working with a torch and fine silver wire. But I have not taken any other classes and am basically self taught.  And I know that not everyone has access to good teachers or the time or money to invest in a class. So here are links to information and tutorials I have found helpful. Wig Jig University has hundreds of free wire tutorials.  This is the site I turned to when I became interested in working with wire.  Connie Fox is another person whose web site I turned to again and again when I first started. She does not do much wire work anymore, so the gallery on her web site does not have a lot of examples.  Fortunately, you can see several examples on Pinterest  here  and here.  Along with the wire skills tutorials on her  web site, you can check out her Garden Bangle Tutorial on Polymer Clay Central. Sharilyn Miller is another one of my favorites.  Check out her free tutorials here. Miller has made four DVDs that are well worth the investment. (I wrote about  the Ethnic Style DVD in an earlier post.).  The other titles in the series are Tribal Treasures,  Rings of Beauty and Bohemian Bangles.  Each DVD contains more than three hours of information.   You can purchase them here.  Be sure to check out her blog here. Wubbers, the people who keep designing new wireworking tools that you never knew you needed until you tried them, have set up Wubbers University.  You have to register for the site, but it is so full of free information that it’s totally worth it. Connie Fox, Sharilyn Miller and Olivia Surratt all studied with Lynne Merchant whose work is probably most responsible for the popularity of wire art jewelry today.  See examples of Merchant’s work here and here.   And watch this video of her demonstrating how to make a spiral.