Category Archives: weekend project

Build a Backdrop for Etsy Photographs

If you sell your work on Etsy, Ebay or another on-line shop, it is important to have consistent, high-quality images to post. One way to accomplish this is with a seamless backdrop. These are available at any photo supply store. You can also build your own with sturdy rolled paper of white, grey or another color that complements your work.

This backdrop is mounted in my studio using 3/4″ galvanized gas pipe fittings available at any hardware store. This example is mounted from both the back wall and ceiling to distribute the load.

photo(1)1) Measure the size and distance of your seamless roll. This example is mounted seven inches from the ceiling and wall.

2) Select and assemble the necessary fittings. This design uses four flanges, four 6″ nipples, two tees, two close nipples, two 90-degree elbows and one 10′ pipe to hold the seamless roll. Each end mount is exactly the same. Make the mirror opposite end by twisting the elbow to face the correct direction.

3) Place and mount the flanges. Mark the drill holes on the wall and ceiling. For additional reinforcement, I use E-Z Ancor Stud Solver steel self-drilling anchors for any holes where a stud is not available.

4) Attach and hang the seamless roll on the pipe. Use nipples and couplings at each end in order to allow enough thread at the end of the pipe to catch the

The seamless rolls up out of the way when not in use.

The seamless rolls up out of the way when not in use.

elbows at each end.

5) Roll the seamless down for an instant photo studio!

The seamless with lights set up.

The seamless with lights set up.

6) To photograph your work, it is generally best to angle one light from each side at roughly a 45-degree angle to eliminate shadows. Clip lights, photo lights or any other direct fixture are good to use. This set-up uses two halogen lights mounted on adjustable

aluminum stands.

Skull Box photographed against the seamless backdrop.

Skull Box photographed against the seamless backdrop.

Build a Basic Box

One of the most basic applications of the box form. Used to stretch canvas for painting or embroidery.

One of the most basic applications of the box form. Used to stretch canvas for painting or embroidery.

Tools:
Saw
Hammer

Materials:
Wood
Nails

A box is one of the most basic wood-working projects there is. It is also one of the most versatile. It is the basis for frames, containers, shelves, and more.

Detail of the slight bevel cut onto the front side of the frame.

Detail of the slight bevel cut onto the front side of the frame.

Most of these DIY projects are variations of the basic box form. It is a project worth practicing often. Two of the most common applications for an artist are illustrated here, 1) a canvas stretcher and 2) a wooden painting panel. All of my projects use primarily recycled or leftover materials. A box can be simple or complex, large or small. Check some other posts for examples.

Start by determining the size and type of box you would like to construct. Cut the four sides to size. You can use four equal sides, or a rectangular form that is long and thin. The joints can be beveled or straight. More advanced joints include dovetail. Assemble the sides together and then attach the bottom or base of the box. The top can be hinged or fitted.

One of the most basic applications of the box form. Recycled 3/4" plywood is used as the substrate for a painting panel.

Recycled 1/2″ plywood is used as the substrate for a painting panel.

Recycled wood used to construct a painting panel.

Recycled wood is used to construct painting panels.

Recycled wood used to construct a painting panel. View of the back of the panel.

View of the back of the panel.

Studio Organization

cluttered workspace First Weekend Project: Studio Organization

Moving into a new house and working on multiple concurrent projects has left my studio in disastrous  disarray. First order of business is organizing left-over material and scraps from various jobs into opportunities for new uses. And clearing away enough workspace for the next weekend project.

Here are a few tips for getting organized for the New Year:

1) Group like objects together. Instead of pushing things from pile to pile, group like objects together as much as possible. Through this simple process, I discovered that I have over 20 Sharpie markers. Yet I never seem to be able to find one when I need it. Now I know where to find them all.

2) Simplify, reduce and recycle. Keep only what you need. Craigslist and Ebay provide good opportunities to find new homes for extra tools and odd items. It can also provide some extra cash.

3) Re-purpose. Try to avoid sending anything unnecessarily into our landfills. Is there another unexpected use for something?

4) Focus. Make sure you budget enough time for set-up and break down after each job. It’s all too easy to move into the next project before everything finds its way back to its proper place. And that’s makes finding it the next time you need it all the more difficult and consumes additional valuable time.

5) Put things where you look for them. If you think a Phillips screw driver might be in a particular drawer and it isn’t, maybe that should be where you keep it in future.

6) Prioritize. Put the most time into those organizational projects that will have the most impact.¬† Sorting nails and screws might be satisfying but won’t necessarily result in the best improvement to your workflow.

New Year, Starting Over Again…

Rolling in the New Year is as good an opportunity as any to try something over again. One of my biggest challenges has always been organization, so here’s an easy resolution: be better organized. First order of business: revamping and updating the blog. I’m introducing a new focus and subtitle to my blog this year: Weekend Project. Is it possible to save the world through one weekend project at a time? Probably not. But it is an easy way for me to organize my projects.