I've been eyeing different small photography backdrops for product photography (very useful for a lot of craft projects, recipes, and other stuff I blog about). But I decided to play around with making my own before ordering some.
I experimented with two different methods, and both worked beautifully, so I'll show you both techniques here.
Start by cutting bender board from the hardware store into pieces the length of the foam core board (30" for the standard size). Bender board is a 1/4" thin x 4" wide piece of inexpensive wood you can find at any home improvement store. It comes in 14' long segments, but like the name suggests, it's very bendable, so it's actually not too difficult to fit into a car. I totally got it into my minivan, even with a dance floor, a table, chairs, and four trellises already in the back. Take that, doubtful Lowes guy.
Glue the boards to the foam core using construction adhesive.
Weigh down with whatever heavy stuff you have on hand and let the glue dry.
The second technique simply involved just a few nails and a hammer. Again, start with the bender board cut to length (30"). Cut the furring strip into three pieces slightly narrower than the width of all of the cut bender board. You'll want the center piece to help keep the flexible bender board from dipping if you're photographing something heavy.
Start nailing the bender board pieces to the furring strips.
I wanted to make one single, double-sided photography prop, so I glued my furring strips to the backside of the foam core poster board used in the version of this tutorial above.
Sand just enough to knock off the major roughness, but don't worry about getting everything completely smooth. The point of this type of backdrop is to add texture and interest, so the last thing you want to do is get rid of all of the texture. Wipe away any sawdust with a damp cloth.
Now, it's time to paint.
I knew I wanted some of the color and grain of the wood to show through the paint, so I opted for a white-washing technique, and painted with a watered down latex paint.
For the white whitewashed side, I experimented with an even easier technique. Rather than mixing up the paint with water, I dipped my brush in the paint, and then in the small container of water (which, I now realize, looks very much like paint in this picture. But it's not. It's the water.), and painted with that. I loved how sheer and varied the whitewashed wood looked. I ended up doing two coats of paint with this technique to get the look I desired.
I spent about $12 on this project, and ended up with two lovely backdrops.
But I did already have the foam core board, the construction adhesive, the nails, and the paint in my garage. If you were to buy everything, you'd be looking at closer to $25 or $30, I'd guess. But since that was the price of one of the small, quality, vinyl photo backdrops I was considering, I'd call that a good deal, even if I had to purchase all of the materials specifically for this project.
The gluing method was a little more fussy and definitely took more time. But you know, I think I'd do that for both sides if I were to do this again. I like the gaps and irregularity in the wood I used, but they show up a lot more when there's a gap of space beneath the boards. I think for stability and less visual distraction, the gluing technique is actually the way to go.
I'm kind of surprised I said that, actually. When I started to write this blog post, before I had really analyzed it and taken pictures with the backdrops, I would have recommended the nailing technique, just because it was so fast and easy. Just goes to show you that are some things you can only figure out through trial and error! I'm delighted to have done that for you. You're welcome.