Product Photography

Cheap Photo Props from Hardware Store

Cheap Photography Props

Wally and Marie. Hardware and Software Experts

Wally and Marie. Hardware and Software Experts.

Cheap Photography Props and Solutions:

One of my least favorite tasks:  taking photos of my products and work. In today’s world, it is an essential skill and I’ve learned to dislike it a little less. I have managed to speed up the process so that I can take photos, edit them and post them online (on Facebook, Flickr, Etsy and this blog) in somewhat less than 5 minutes each (If the sun is in the correct position in the sky).

My set up is cheap, down & dirty, gleaned from multiple online posts and tutorials about Free Photo Box setups (you can google them). I’ve taken online courses for pay and some are well worth their cost, especially if you get them during one of Interweave Online Store’s sales.

The online tutorials by Jim Lawson have been especially helpful to me. If you get one or two hints or tips, they are well-worth the low cost.

My biggest challenge is taking photos of dangly earrings. I had these shelf brackets lying around and taped them down to some white foam-core board that I got from the free box at Meininger’s in Denver. I also had some silver-colored knitting needles and one fit through the holes perfectly. The combination works adequately for holding up the earrings so they can be photographed in the position that they will actually be worn.

The foam core board is balanced inside a translucent plastic box that is missing its top. I almost threw this broken plastic box into the recycle bin, but then was able to repurpose it for a photo box.

I’m far from an expert at product photography, but this cheap set up works great for me, and the price was right.


The Last of the Bungalows: A Labor of Love

Another kind of “Tiny House”…


Bungalow teaching  project1994 Bungalow teaching project, currently residing at the National Museum of Toys & Miniatures in Kansas City

Our obsession with Charles & Henry Greene, and the Arts and Crafts Bungalow style, reached its finale in late 1994 when we started the Craftsman Bungalow teaching project. By then we’d been making miniature houses for twenty years, and teaching week-long techniques workshops for around fifteen of those. Most years we taught 3-4 times at various locations around the country, including our favorite, Castine, ME, home of the IGMA Guild School, and the amicable locals who liked to call us The Little People (we arrived with the lilacs–between the mud season, and the blackfly season). The School required we dream up a new class every couple of years, which was good, on the one hand, because it insured that both we and our repeat students would keep returning. On the other, it was a challenge to design something…

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For a Luddite, I’ve been doing an awful lot of computerized messing around: editing photos on this blog, linking blog posts to my Off The Grid Designs Facebook Page, re-reading books on blogs, blogging, creating crazy graphs on Excel about how we artists *really* spend our days… I should be making stuff. Instead, I’m probably annoying everyone. But that madness will stop very soon. For now, I beg you, just go along with all my experiments.

You can find these lovelies here:

I have been promising a little mini tutorial about some of the techniques used in these earrings, and I will oblige as soon as I unpack just one more box…



What metalsmith can’t use a new few tools? These might be my most frequently used tools – grungy, beat up hammers from estate sales, basements and alleys/dumpsters around Denver. My absolute favorite has got to be the one that was originally offered at the exorbitant price of $3 and then marked down to a more reasonable $2.00.

Copper Beetle Key Fob

Key Fob with Copper Beetle Design

Beetle Key Fob

Patty made this when she visited us in January. The beetle design was carved from a block of soft carving material, similar to an eraser. CopprClay (by Metal Adventures) was rolled out onto the design, then dried, refined, fired and riveted to hand-dyed veg-tanned cowhide.

My Heart Is In The Mountains


Jewelry designs mostly start in my journal or sketchbook. Lately I always carry both. The journal is filled with random rants, telephone numbers, grocery lists and Personal Stuff That Would Bore Anyone To Death. I tried to keep everything in one book, but I always felt guilty about scribbling names, book titles or other minutiae in the sketchbook with its *good* paper, and didn’t want to waste plain paper with serious sketching. I still have not solved this dilemma.

This sketch of mountains, hills, trees, rivers and grasses became a small design which I carved out of eraser material using linoleum carving blades. BronzClay (by Metal Adventures) was rolled out in a thin layer. The design was trimmed, dried, refined (sanded) and then fired at high temperatures in a specially designed kiln.

The oval medallion was riveted to a leather bracelet. I used teeny-tiny brass rivets that you might find in your local model railroading shop.