Easy and Inexpensive DIY Light Box

Photographing product shots of the journals and various items I create is one of my least favorite parts of selling my work. It is often hard to chase the natural light around my house and the “ideal time of day” to shoot outside rarely coincides with my ideal time of day for shooting.

Add to that my desire for plain backgrounds and little to no shadows and reflections and I knew it was time to get a much needed light box into my studio. I found a  simple set-up online for $99 (including lights) and was preparing to buy one when I decided just to try making one with a few inexpensive materials.

My DIY light box ended up costing me just under $3.00 to make—not including any lighting. It may not be the prettiest thing but it works just fine.

Want to make one for yourself? Here is how I did it.

Materials
Cardboard Box (any size suitable for the objects you want to photograph)
White Muslin Fabric (this was $1.99/yd at my local fabric store, measure your openings with a little margin to determine how much you need)
White Bristol board or Poster board (to create a seamless background)
Packing Tape
Utility Knife
Ruler or Straight Edge
Marking Device (pencil, marker, etc)

Directions

  1. Cut the top flaps off of your cardboard box.
  2. Cut windows out of the front and two sides of the box. I left about a 2.5 inch border around the edges to help keep the box sturdy and to provide a bit of space for securing the fabric to the box.DIY Light Box
  3. Cut the muslin slightly larger than openings for the two side windows and the top of the box.
  4. Stretch the muslin tautly over one of the side windows and secure all four sides with tape. Repeat for the other side.
  5. Cut the white poster board to fit width-wise and slide into the top of the box sloping it to the front to create a seamless background. Trim the excess board off the top. I secured the top edge of the board to the box but this really isn’t necessary.
  6. Once your backdrop is in place you can put on the top of your light box. Stretch the last piece of muslin tautly over the top of the box and secure with tape.

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That’s it! Now light it from the top and/or the sides for a nice diffused light. Don’t forget to use a daylight balanced bulb and to not mix lighting types for easier control over color casts.

Results? Below are a few shots taken with the camera on my phone (except the last shot which was taken with an SLR). Box is lit from the top with a single light. Not bad for a $3 light box, eh?

DIY Light Box Sample Shot
DIY Light Box Sample Shot
DIY Light Box Sample Shot
DIY Light Box Sample Shot

 

Easy Like Sunday Morning

G-tot and I often take walks in the neighborhood where he rides his bike and I walk—usually a bit behind him because his little legs pedal so fast. This week on one of our walk/rides he stopped his bike at the corner, turned to me and said, “Mom, how do you spell ‘navigation acceleration’?”

I have no idea what prompted that question but fortunately I was able to spell it for him on the spot.

I’m crafting it up this week for the Fourth of July over at the Curvy Girl Guide.

I made a trio each of Patriotic Votive Holders and Rocket Cracker Favors.

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Aren’t they super cute? Better yet, they were really easy to make.

Over at Babble’s Being Pregnant this week I’m waxing over making room for another baby, pining over these ridiculously cute newborn hats from Etsy, giving away some hilarious kid’s books, showing off my baby bump, and contemplating what to drink this 4th of July since margaritas are out of the question for another 11 weeks or so.

Give us the greens of summer

Tonight is the opening for AIGA Toledo’s The Always Summer Show. The idea behind the show was to design a poster around one of your favorite summer songs. On opening night the songs will be played to go along with all the posters. Sounds fun, right?

Here is my entry.

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The song I chose was Kodachrome by Paul Simon. I love that song. It reminds me not only of summer but also of my roots as a photographer who shot with actual film. And it’s just a catchy tune. Oh, and I got to dig out some of my favorite old cameras from my collection to use in the poster. I think that Argus is my favorite.

But…my entry was not chosen to be a part of the show. Which can only mean that the 25 that were picked must be pretty kick ass.

So, if you are in the Toledo area between 6 and 9 tonight you should stop into the Madhouse Gallery at 1215 Jackson and check out the show. The show runs through October 15th if you miss the opening.

Support the arts. It will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Plus there is usually wine at these events. And cheese.

Mmm…cheese and art. Delicious.

Did I mention I was on the news?

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Rebecca Regnier from our local ABC news station. Rebecca interviewed me and Heather Bellian from Pink Stripe about our Etsy shops—mine is Bird Doodle. You should absolutely go buy something from us. The piece was shot for Rebecca’s weekly People, Places, and Things segment. The whole thing happened really quickly with Rebecca contacting me via Facebook (thanks to Amy) on a Monday afternoon and me in the studio on Tuesday morning for the interview. The piece aired Friday, September 3rd on the 6 o’clock news.

Many thanks to Rebecca for the opportunity.

Here’s the clip if  you missed it and want to check it out.

And in case the video doesn’t work, here is the link to the story.

I could care less if Patrick Bateman approves

When I came home from the long drive across three states on Sunday I was greeted by a husband who missed G-tot and me dearly and a little white box that was begging to be open. When I saw the box sitting on the desk in the office I may have actually squeed a little. Or a lot.

Maybe you would too if you knew what was in the box.

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See! Who doesn’t want a new best friend?

Oh wait. That was just a little something extra to make me smile—which worked like a charm. It was really the stuff on the OTHER side of the box that made me so excited.

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Do you know what that is?

MY MOO ORDER! Yay. Yay. Yay!

What the hell is a Moo order, you ask? Well, Moo is a company that prints business cards, mini cards, note cards, and—at the London branch—stickers. And? They are marvelous.

I designed some cards a couple of weeks ago—social media business cards for all my bloggy type adventures and mini moos for my Etsy shop.

Getting new social media and etsy shop cards have been on my to-do list for awhile. And I’m going to this little conference in a couple of weeks. Perhaps, you have heard of it? Rumor has it there my be a few other people there. People who might just want to remember who they meet after a whirlwind weekend in NYC. So…I needed to get them designed sooner than later.

I chose sooner. I chose Moo as my printer and they DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

I love all the cards. The mini moos are adorable and will be great for tossing in with my Etsy orders.

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The business cards? Be still my heart and schedule me a meeting.

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One of the main reasons I chose Moo as my printer was the capability to put up to 50 different images on the “front” side of the cards. I was considering using my photographs for the front but decided to go with something that is just as near and dear to me—some of my letter series work.

I picked 10 pieces and laid them out on the cards so you only really see a portion of the design. On the back is all my info.

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I really do love them. I think they do a great job of expressing something special about me. Plus, they have the potential to be a great conversation starter. The design on the front becomes more than just a design. It is a way to show who I am, what I do, and how much I love type.

A+ in my book. What do you think?

Next thing you know we’ll be hanging up the black light poster I found in the hope chest

Remember those glow in the dark stars that you could hang on the ceiling in your bedroom?

Not the sticker kind but the plastic ones that came with a tiny supply of white removable adhesive. The kind you could only use one time because you were never given enough adhesive to reuse them once you pried them off the ceiling. Or, if you had leftover adhesive it would be completely dried out or covered in dust by the time you actually needed it.

Remember those?

They were awesome.

I always wanted a set of them growing up. Somehow that never happened when I was a kid. No, it wasn’t until I was an adult and living on my own before I actually had my own set of glow in the dark stars on my ceiling. What can I say? I was a late bloomer. Now, I don’t exactly remember which apartment I had them in, but they came with me when I moved. And for the last five years we have had that set of stars sitting in a small pink plastic bin in our basement waiting to see the light of day and glow again.

But that weird white gummy adhesive has a tendency to dry out over the years. So I never really had a way—or a need—to put them back up.

Until now.

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A few weeks ago Glue Dots and TwitterMoms sent me a big envelope FULL of Glue Dots products. Included in that envelope were removable adhesive dots. Which instantly reminded me of those stars. IMG_9744

G-tot could not have been more enthusiastic about using them when I told him what we were going to do with the Glue Dots and that little basket of stars.

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We washed the years of dust and dirt off of them. Then we picked off all that old white dry adhesive that still stuck to the back of the stars—but would no longer stick to anything else.

Next came the glue dots.

We ended up using 3 different packs of Glue Dots for the job. It didn’t need that many but we were experimenting with the different options to see what worked best for us. The roller worked well for the quickly covering the larger stars and the individual dots were great for the smaller stars.

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G-tot and I were both too short to reach the ceiling without a ladder. I was also too lazy to drag a ladder in from the garage.

So we stuck them on the walls instead.

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They are still super awesome.

Disclaimer: This post was written as a part of the TwitterMoms and Glue Dots blogging contest. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Weekly Winners—Pirate Party

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It Took Forever to Paint but Totally Worth It

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Happy Pirate Boy

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It Had to be Blue

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Pirate Booty Treat Bags

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Finger Puppet Pirates

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Blue Jewels and Gold Coins

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Prepare to Walk the Plank

Inky Dinky Do

A snowy day. Nowhere to be and no pressing obligations. There are never enough of those kind of days. But today was one of those days. Yay! And I took advantage of it by doing a little something creative.

This morning I made a fort in the living room for G-tot—where we ate both lunch and dinner—and when he went down for his afternoon rest I dug out my box of block printing supplies. I carved a couple of small lino blocks and did a little printing.

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I made a card with the little blob guy and made some wrapping paper with the other block.

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Cute, huh?

Go Ahead and Draw Something

Check out this super cool Sketchbook Frame I got for a gift at Christmas. It holds a 4 x 6 inch photo and has 80 sheets of paper that you can draw on.

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It’s made by Umbra and although I couldn’t find the exact one I have, I did find this one with a different photo placement.

Isn’t it so fun?

Hands Down the Cutest Reindeer I’ve Seen all Year

You know Dasher and Dancer all those other reindeer, right? This guy would probably be Rudolph since he has a red nose.

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Cute, isn’t he? Want to make one or two or all 9 of them?

Supplies:
1 or 2 sheets of construction paper for the antlers (we used brown to be more authentic but any color would be cute)
1 sheet of construction paper for the head (I had a tan sheet laying around but you could use any color that contrasts well with the antlers), glue stick, googly eyes are optional (I just happened to have a pair on hand)
1 sheet of construction paper to mount the reindeer to (I imagine this is optional but I like the way it looks)
scissors
glue stick
marker for eyes and nose

  1. For the antlers, trace your each of your child’s hands on a single sheet of construction paper.
  2. Trace your child’s foot on the paper you are using for the head and cut it out.
  3. Glue the hands (antlers) to the head (foot) from the back. The toes of the traced foot will be the top of the head.
  4. Add eyes and a nose with the marker (or googly eyes if you have them!)
  5. Glue the reindeer to the larger sheet of construction paper if desired.

Tah-dah! Now you have a ridiculously cute reindeer and a nice memory of the size of your child’s hands and feet if you hang on to it after the holidays.