Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012 IFDC backdrops...and a few tips on how to create your own!

 At my third International Fashion Doll Convention this year, I decided to create two backdrops for the photography night and to then be raffled off. (If you want to see photos of all the backdrops from this year’s convention, please check out Shuga-Shug’s Flickr photos.) Conventioneers can pose their travel dolls in front of each backdrop for some unique photo opportunities. My favorite backdrops from last year were the ones with seats, so I didn’t have to fiddle with trying to get my Fashion Royalty to stand on her own, so I decided to incorporate seating into both of mine. I’m so proud of how they turned out, that I had to post some photos. If you’re a crafty DIY-er, like me, I’ve also included some tips on how to create your own.

Backdrop #1: A Reading Nook Built For Two

(I had to include a BEFORE photo!)
The wall is just a piece of 12” x 14” foam core, cut to size with a utility knife. The wallpaper is two pieces of scrapbook paper, carefully lined up to match the stripes, and glued to the foam core with a glue stick. I glued a ½” strip of foam core to the bottom of the wall to create the look of a baseboard.

The floor is a piece of 12” x 5” foam core. To create the “hardwood floor,” I cut some wood grain shelf liner into ¾” x 4” strips, then peeled off the backing and laid them in rows, making sure to stagger the seams to make it look more realistic. (The great thing about this shelf liner is that the adhesive on the back is repositionable, in case you don’t line it up correctly the first time – not that I know this from experience.)

The wall and floor are just held together with a few pieces of packing or masking tape to make a sort of hinge, so that the backdrop can be collapsed to a flat piece for storage or travel. I also taped two triangles of leftover foam core to the back of the walls so that they wall can stand upright on its own.

So, the chairs I didn’t make myself, but just recovered to fit the décor. I think they used to be that pink plastic Gloria furniture, but had been spray painted black by their previous owner, and the seats had been covered with a piece of printed cotton. I popped the seat piece off, peeled off the previous fabric and glued a new piece of black and white quilting cotton over them. (In retrospect, I would have primed the pink plastic with some white paint, because the pink does show through a tiny bit on the white parts of the fabric.)

The lamp stand is one of those stands that holds an extra spool of thread upright beside your sewing machine (I think my sister found this one for me, so I have no idea where you would look for one), with the base painted black. The “lampshade” is the plastic cup from a roll of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, turned upside down and hot-glued to the tip of the lamp stand. (I also attached a little silver pull chain leftover from an old key-chain just for looks.)

The picture frames were created from pre-cut wooden squares and matchsticks from my local craft store. (The matchsticks are skinny and soft enough that they can be cut to the right length with a pair of scissors.) The “glass” of the picture frame is just a piece of that clear plastic that you find on Barbie packaging, and pretty much every other kind of packaging these days! I printed a few black and white photos of the Beatles on my computer, scaled down to the size of each frame. I would suggest painting all the wood pieces before assembling the pictures. Then stack and glue in this order: square frame backing, photo, clear plastic, frame.

Now my favorite part of the whole project: the stack of leather-bound books on the chair. I glued a couple pieces of pre-cut wooden rectangles together, painted the edges white, then wrapped them with a piece of scrap leather or vinyl (glued with a hot glue gun) and used a fine-tip Sharpie to write a title on the spine. I also added a drop of hot glue between each book so that they would stay perfectly stacked.

Backdrop #2: A Soothing Indoor Oasis

These walls were painted with acrylic craft paint, although it did warp the walls a bit, so if you know how to avoid that, please comment below! The shape of the windows was inspired by a fabulous room I saw in a Crate & Barrel catalog. I traced the shape of the windows on the back with pencil (I highly suggest using a ruler!) and then cut them out with a utility knife. The “frosted glass” of the window is actually a piece of clear shelf liner that I glued to the back of the wall with tacky glue.

The couch is made from a couple pieces of pre-cut wooden rectangles (the size of wood I could get determined the size of the couch!), nailed or glued together in a few places and painted with acrylic craft paint and ModPodge sealer. I wrapped two ½”-thick pieces of foam with fabric and “tufted” them in several places with a needle and thread, before gluing them to the wood.

The pillows are just two squares of fabric sewn almost all the way around, then turned inside out, stuffed with polyester fiberfill and sewn up. (I know, I make it sound so easy, but it really is!)

The plant is just a tiny clay pot and some plastic greenery. The “dirt” is a piece of Styrofoam, cut to fit snugly inside the pot and then painted black with acrylic craft paint. I did put a few dabs of glue on the plant them before stuffing it into the foam to make sure it wouldn’t pull out too easily.

See, that doesn’t sound too hard, does it!


  1. Hello from Spain: I love the reading corner scenario. The books are very real. I also really like the pictures and the plant ... It is a scene muyreal. Keep in touch

  2. Thanks, Marta - I'm glad you liked it. I'll be posting a tutorial on how to make the miniature books tomorrow (Monday), in case you'd like to try making your own!

  3. I'm so excited to have found your wonderful blog. I'm 67 years old and just bought my first Barbie. I've bought them for my daughter and my grands but this one is for me. We played Barbie a lot this summer when it was 110 and too hot to play out. I got tired of being assigned the trashy dolls and bought my own Model Muse. There are 18X24 pieces of foam core on my dining room table. Do you think I'm hooked? LOL I think I subbed to your blog. I click and click again and soon can't remember where I started. Anyway, you are an inspiration. I've been an artist all my life so this is going to be a fun outlet for my creativity since I can't work in my field any more. Thanks for the great ideas.

  4. GaylaT, thanks for your comments - they totally made my day! I love the thought of you retreating from the hot weather indoors, playing Barbies. Congrats on your Model Muse - they're such a beautiful body, they make all clothes look great! I'd love to see what your foam core turns into - feel free to email me photos at It's definitely an infectious hobby - I have so many ideas just waiting to be executed and blogged stay tuned!

  5. Interesting! I find these ideas great and such very helpful. Thanks a lot for this opportunity to know this information.

  6. I'm glad you found it both interesting and useful!

  7. Nice tutorial - I've tweeted it to my Twitter folks ;-)


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