Sequin Background for YouTube

She’s back! The lovely Chelle has been co-opted to write in my place yet again. Enjoy, and be sure to check out her stuff on her website (details below)!

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Hi everyone! My name is Chelle and I run the beauty blog Makeup Your Mind and YouTube channel of the same name. I’m filling in for Alison today with a DIY on how I created my sequin background for my YouTube videos!

Since I live in downtown Toronto in a one bedroom apartment with my husband and two cats, we don’t have a heck of a lot of space to use as a filming area for my YouTube videos. The *only* area we really have available to put up a backdrop was our entrance “hallway” to the apartment.

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So this is how my filming setup looks in essence. I’ve got a high chair in the middle of the entrance, my ring light and tripod with camera pointed at it. Sadly, the apartment door and surrounding walls just aren’t attractive enough for videos, so I had to rig up some kind of contraption to put up behind me that could be put up and taken down easily.

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I decided to buy some sequin cloth from Ebay and a shower tension rod to hold it up. The sequin cloth came as one straight sheet of cloth, so I was going to have to attach it to the curtain rod somehow.

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I flipped the cloth around so that the curtain rod lay on the unfinished side of the cloth.

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Wrapped the cloth around the rod, and safety pinned it into place!

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Since the whole curtain is on a collapsible tension rod, it makes for quick and easy set up and take down every time I want to film a video!

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You will find that the cloth needs to be pulled tight on the edges so that you don’t get any wrinkling effects in the background and for that I use painter’s edging tape (not pictured).

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Et voila! A shimmery, abstract background that helps bounce light back into the video! I love how professional this can look on camera, and yet when you pull away it just looks like such a hot mess in the entrance to our apartment!

Thanks so much for reading, and if you’re interested in my little corner of the internet, come say hi over on my blog Makeup Your Mind!

Impressions Ornaments

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I saw this leaf imprint necklace at Happy Hour Projects and I thought it was neat. While I wasn’t that interested in the jewelry aspect of it, I thought that the technique would make for some great Christmas ornaments. What you need to do this is simply some oven-bake polymer clay (like Sculpey) and some leaves or other items to make impressions in the clay. Everything else, the silicone work surface, the craft paint, the bits and bobs, those are all up to you. A note on polymer clay – it is not food-safe. Whatever you use to cut or otherwise work the clay should not be used for food items.

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So. Grab your clay. I used a plain white. Work some of it between your hands to soften it and then flatten it onto your work surface. I’d aim for a thickness between 1/8″ and 1/4″.

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Then take a leaf or whatever else you’d like to impress, and place it on the clay. This leaf is about 2″ wide, to give you an idea of scale.

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Press the leaf into the surface of the clay so that it leaves a full and detailed impression. You won’t get as much detail with the small leaves on polymer clay as you would on natural clay (like with the clay leaf bowls) simply because the substance is more resilient.

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Carefully remove the leaf and then cut it out with a cookie cutter or knife. You can cut it off-centre or however you would like. I’m not grading you on these.

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Use a skewer or some other pokey object to put a hole through for stringing.

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We even got Grenadier in on the action, though he wasn’t happy about it. If you want him to step on something, suddenly his paw is a delicate flower and he can do no harm. If you don’t want him to step on something, he will immediately put his full 40lbs of weight behind it.

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So these impressions were not as deep as I would like.

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But they worked out well enough that I figured they’d do.

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Place your finished items on a sheet of parchment and bake at 275°F for 15 minutes per 1/4″ of thickness of your clay. Let them cool completely before handling.

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Done.

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Now we paint. If you want. I used some craft paint  and a small paintbrush to swipe colour over the impression.

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This one I used a dry paper towel to wipe it off, which left the colour on the majority of the ornament.

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This one I just filled in the leaf part as close as I could.

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Then I used a wet flannel cloth to wipe it gently off.

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The Gren ones took a few applications of paint.

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Then I strung them with some hemp line and some wee bells.

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These would make a great addition to your gift wrap arsenal, a cute personalized stocking stuffer, or you could give a few to a person just starting to collect their own Christmas ornaments.

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Braided Rag Doily


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The scraps for this came from the edges of the trimmed Fat Quarter Napkins I made.

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I braided the scraps together, tying on new strips as I ran out of length.

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It took a while.

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Then I rolled up the braid to keep it from tangling.

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I had some fun shooting the braid with my macro lens.

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Then I started sewing it together in a circular pattern.

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I just used a regular whip stitch. Nothing fancy.

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I kept going …

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… and going …

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… and going. I even stood at the front of the class on three separate occasions and sewed this while my students were writing their final exams. Fortunately, they already thought I was weird, so this was nothing new to them.

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The finished product was a little wonky and tended to curve in on itself, so I got it good and wet with hot water, squeezed it out, stretched it to the shape I wanted it, and then laid it between two towels under a heavy board for the night.

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I ended up with this cheerful miniature rag rug, which would make a nice placemat for the centre of any table.

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Let there be LIGHT!

Light BOX

Rule number one in food photography: ALWAYS USE NATURAL LIGHT.

You know what?  Sometimes that’s just not possible.

You know dinner/supper? Generally that is served in the evening.  And in the winter here, that means it’s dark out.

The solution to that is to use a light box, or light tent.  Many photographers use these devices when featuring a single product.  It’s a good way to get whatever it is to display without any distracting background messing up the shot.

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It’s also a good way to diffuse the harshness of electric lighting and make your subject look a little bit more natural.

Professional light boxes or light tents, even the small ones, will run you at least a hundred bucks, easy.  And that’s without the super-bright lighting system that goes with it.  Add another minimum four hundred dollars to your total if you want to go that way.

Constructing my box cost me less than $15 and took me less than an hour.  And a homemade box will give you pretty much the same results. You do the math.

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Here’s what you need:

A large and sturdy cardboard box.  These ones are slightly smaller than what I had originally planned, but I can always make another one when I get a bigger box.

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Enough white cloth (muslin, linen, cotton, or fleece) to line the box.  Tape or glue for attaching things (I like me my hockey tape, as you know, and it’s designed to attach to fabric).  Double-sided tape is great if you don’t want your adhesive efforts to show.  Scissors/Box Cutter/Rotary Cutter, for cutting things.  White or coloured Bristol board, for your background.   You can also skip the board and use your cloth, but bending the board will give you a nice edge-less angle.

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At least two, but preferably more, goose-neck or adjustable neck work lamps.  I already have two of these Tertial ones from IKEA, which cost $10 and come with a clamp base.  I plan to acquire one more to go on top of the box.  It’s important to note that these lamps support the brighter 100W (or 23W if you are using a CFL) bulbs without risk of fire.

As many bright light bulbs as you need for your lamps.  I recommend using 100W bulbs (23W in compact fluorescent terms).  I picked up these “daylight” bulbs, which produce a cooler, less yellow light than a regular incandescent, from Canadian Tire for $10.  Halogens work well in this project, because they’re freaking bright, but they also use more energy, so that’s a judgment call for you to make on your own.

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Just make sure that the wattage on your light bulb matches the maximum wattage on the lamps you are using.  You can get cheap desk lamps from anywhere to use for the project but more often than not they will only support a 60W (13W CFL) bulb, and those in the know say that’s just not bright enough for their purposes. The lamp on the right is less bright.

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The best part about this is you can totally half-ass the project, if you were so inclined.  You don’t even need to measure the holes you cut in the box and if you’re in a hurry, you can leave the interior of the box unlined and simply drape the fabric over the top.

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I plan to be a bit more meticulous, however.  But only a little bit.  It’s sort of half-assed half-assery.

Now of course there are a million different DIYs for making your own light box/tent.  Most of them are by real photographers who actually know what they’re doing, but there are some by people like me.  The dabblers of the earth.  I’m going to add my own to the mix, because the world needs a bit more alidoesit flavour, don’t you think?  My three favourite ones in terms of method and supplies are down below, if you want to check them out, but the concept is always the same.  Box.  White stuff.  Light.  Done.

So you take your box.  Grenadier was extremely helpful in the construction of this light box, as the pictures show.

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Cut off the top flaps and secure the bottom ones.  The bottom is going to be the back of the box, and the sides the floor, walls, and ceiling.

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Cut out large holes on each of the three sides.

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Line the box with white fabric, covering the holes completely.  Make sure that all you can see inside the box is white.  White’s a nice reflector.

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Prop a piece of bristol board inside the box so that one end is wedged into the top corner.

Bend the board to make a curve and use a bit of tape to stick the bottom in place so it doesn’t slide out.  This will be your photographic surface.  The curve of the board means that there are no corners or edges visible in the photographs.

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Put your lamps with their bright bulbs up to all the holes in the box (as I said, I plan to have three lamps some time soon) and turn them on.  Make sure the bulbs don’t touch the cloth.  You wouldn’t want to start a fire.  You might find it easiest to take pictures of items in your light box using a tripod, but it’s not entirely necessary to your happiness.

Tada, your very own light box!

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Here’s some food in a shot taken, like I normally do, in my kitchen during the day.  The light is natural outdoor light through my big kitchen window at the end of the afternoon in October.  Lovely.

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Now here is the same food in a shot taken at night, using the electric lights in my kitchen.

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And again, in my brand new light box!  I think we can all agree there’s a difference!

Light BOX

Other Light Box/Tent Projects:

http://jyoseph.com/blog/diy-light-box-for-product-photography

http://reverb.madstatic.com/blog/2006/04/01/make-a-photo-light-box-light-tent-cheap/

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/how-to-make-a-inexpensive-light-tent