I read a great blog entry, on the Strobist blog last month about making your own backdrop by dying a canvas drop cloth that you can pick up for under $10 at Home Depot.
Note: Don’t be scared of dying. This was my first time, and it didn’t hurt.
Though next time I will use gloves.
Since I had to grab silver spay paint and painters tape for update some old lamps that have been lying around the house I decided to grab a 6′ x 9′ drop cloth while I was there. I ran to the craft store in the plaza and bought 4 packets of black Rit dye, then it was off to the house to get to dying.
Dying a Canvas Background Steps
Step 1: Gather Supplies
- 6′ x 9′ Canvas Drop Cloth be aware many drop cloths have large seams that will show after the dying process
- 4 packets black RIT dye
- 1 empty cranberry juice container (for dissolving the dye powder)
- 1 cup of salt
Yea, about the one cup of salt, I’m winging it here…
Step 2: Pre-wash the canvas
This will remove any residue on the cloth and get the cloth wet as is instructed by the Rit directions. I used warm water and detergent.
While the cloth was being pre-washed it was a good time to dissolve the dye and add the salt to the mix. I used an empty cranberry juice bottle – 8 cups of water (two per packet) was a good fit!
Step 3: Dye it up!
After the canvas was done with it’s first wash I set the washer to warm wash/cold rinse and started it up again. I dropped in the dye mix and let ‘er rip. As instructed by the Rit instructions I made sure to reset the agitate cycle before it got to the rinse/spin. After the machine went through it’s rinse cycle I pulled out the canvas and ran a piece of it under the tap in the sink to make sure it was running clear. It wasn’t so I ran it through another cold rinse cycle. After that it was to the dryer.
Step 4: All Done
I pulled out my canvas and it’s more of a warm/cool almost violet hinted gray. Maybe I’ll dye it again to see if I can get a deeper black. For now though this will be a great out-of-focus background to help make my subjects stand out better.
Total Cost: $20.34
Took less than 3 hours from start to finish!
- Strobist: Home Depot Week – Backgrounds
- Cheap DIY (Homemade) Muslin Photography Background
- DIY background stand
- Yes, I will be using rubber gloves and checking for a seam in the drop cloth more closely.
- I’m going to try dying a more earth brown tone as the yellow canvas will probably take that better than the black.
Woot for Plugs 🙂
Lesson as to why you should always give things on the internet a shot and post your results. Strobist Saturday Speed Links 11/17/2007 Cheapo, yes. Spin-offable, definitely!
Photographer Italy says
Really nice trick.
Thanks to share we all of us!
Great post on Muslin Backdrops. I really like the sporty attitude..the way you shared the whole process with us. Good luck.
Stephen James says
Good tutorials on creating cheap backdrops.
Thanks for the info I did it myself and worked!! I will have to dye it again to make it darker also.
It used to be cheaper to make your own, but not anymore. I just bought one 10’x13′ black canvas from ebay for $25 include S/H. If you plan to do your own color or pattern canvas, it will be better to buy one already made.
Sam- do you know what it was called on Ebay? I cannot seem to find one. Thanks