DIY photo backdrops

Talkin’ about DIY photo backdrops today. Just a side note, there are about a million easier ways to to make photo backdrops out there. (Funky fabric and thumb tacks is my go to!) If you are looking for easy, this is not the photo backdrop for you, ha! But, it is fun and… double sided! Woot woot! A little back story… I was asked by Piqora to host a panel at SXSW (huge interactive, film, and music conference in Austin, TX) this year. Fun, right?! Me and 2 of my blog faves, Stacy and Kristen, had the opportunity to share our experience as bloggers working with brands. They also asked me to make photo backdrops! And host a crafty hour on St. Patrick’s Day! It was a crazy busy week in Casa de Dorobek.

I think this giant word search would be an awesome photo backdrop for a wedding or corporate event. You could add everyones names or things that mean something to the bride and groom. The ideas are endless! I ended up with a 12×12 word search for a total of 144 letters.

DIY photo backdrops

Just for fun, here is the back side of the word search… clouds! The clouds were way easier to craft up than the word search. Andy and Maxwell came to listen to our panel and then I attempted to snap a few pictures with my baby, this one turned out best!

DIY photo backdrops

So, how to make 2 DIY photo back drops?  Here’s what you need to build the double sided photo backdrop:

  • 2 8×4 sheets of ply wood
  • Garage shelf unit, we used this one. You have to have free standing shelves that have holes in the rails, like this:

DIY photo backdrops

  • Black chalk board paint
  • Cricut Explore machine
  • Silver vinyl
  • Chalk
  • For clouds: blue and white paint
  • 16 screws and washers
  • Saw (or have Home Depot make the 4 cuts for you!)

Our photo booth back drop stands about 6 feet 4 inches tall and 5 feet wide. It’s a great width, but I wish we would have made it 7 feet tall, but this would have meant buying another sheet of ply wood. Decisions, decisions. To make a DIY photo booth you will need to cut your ply wood down into these 4 pieces:

  • 2- 4×5 feet pieces
  • 2- 4×2 feet pieces

Here’s is my beautiful work space, AKA the garage. It was a rainy and gross for the few days we were building! This picture is obviously after I already painted the chalkboard paint over the ply wood, but you can see where the 2 pieces are and if you look closely you can see a few of the 8 screws. We did 4 for the bottom piece and 4 for the top piece. This is why the holes on the shelf are so important since this is how you attach the back drop.

You can also see in this picture how the back drop is double sided and open for storage in the middle.

DIY photo backdrops


“THE MAXWELL” letters at the top were just for size and space visuals. Those letters are 5 inches long and 10 across. I ended up going with letters that were 3.67 inches tall and 12 across. So a few things to note about planning out the word search:

  • After you get the wood cut and drilled onto the shelf, it’s time to for the fun! Paint 4-5 coats of chalkboard paint on to the ply wood. The ply wood soaks it up!
  • Make sure and let the chalkboard paint dry the proper amount of time. Just read the dang can. Then you have to condition your board! (More on that here.)
  • Next use this free online puzzle maker to actually create the word search. Really simple. I used to use it all of the time as a teacher, I had a kiddo who thought word searches were the greatest thing ever!
  • Note: There is a reason why all word searches are rectangular in shape. I did not take that into consideration, but figured it out first hand when I went to circle one of my diagonal words! You need the extra vertical space to circle. Plan for this.
  • Now, how to know how many letters to cut out with your Cricut? This is easy. After you get your word search the way you want it on the puzzle maker, go to Edit, Find in the menus at the top of your screen. This will highlight each letter for you so that you can count how many A’s, B’s, C’s, etc you need to cut out.  Here are all of the “A” in my word search!
  • DIY photo backdropsThen make a map so you know exactly how many letters your need and where they go. Here is my trusty map!

DIY photo backdrops


  • Now you need to make the lines on your chalkboard. You can use a laser level or good ol’ fashioned yard stick! I did a little of both. Here are the guides I drew so that I could get the letters spaced evenly:DIY photo backdrops
  • Now it’s time to pick a font and start cutting out your letters and sticking them on! I used 2 and a half rolls of vinyl to cut 144 letters for those project.

DIY photo backdrops


  • Then just write the title in chalk markers!

Now, for the other side of the photo back drop! After the word search, this side is cake! Just paint the whole thing blue and then doodle on 4 clouds!

DIY photo backdrops


I made a sunshine and a cloud with raindrops out of foam board to go with this backdrop. And here it is in action on the day of our panel! (You can see lots more pics with the props here and here!

DIY photo backdrops

And one more picture of the completed interactive word search photo backdrop:

DIY photo backdrops

So, who is going to make a giant word search photo back drop first! I’d love to see it! And just for fun, if you read the post about Maxwell’s new sandbox, you will notice a chalkboard wall popped up on the fence. Guess where that came from?!

DIY Lamp shade {balsa wood}

I was in a shady contest… As in a lamp shade contest, hardy har!   I posted about the diy shade contest last week, but left you hangin’ with no deets. So, I’m back today with a shady tutorial!How to make a balsa wood lampshade

Let’s start with the inspiration shade from Pomp and Circumstance. It’s awesome and made out of balsa wood.   lamp shade Of  course, I wanted to make the shade my own, and I’ve been really into mixed woods lately. I made a jewelry organizer out of leftover floor samples last year and decided to go for the same multi wood shade look with the lamp shade. CRAFT Jamie Dorobek

For the contest, gave each of us this free shade for the contest:

diy lamp shade
Here’s what you need:

  • 7 strips of as wide and thin balsa wood that you can find  (I got mine from Hobby Lobby. 7 strips cost me $17)
  • brown acrylic paint and water
  • bowl
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun

First, I painted my strips of balsa wood with acrylic paint. I painted a few strips a darker color, then watered down the paint, and painted a few more strips, etc…
diy lampshade



Here are my painted and dried balsa wood strips ready to be cut.
lamp shade makeover


I used scissors to cut each wide strip into multiple pieces. This saved money! I made my strips all different sizes. The thin balsa wood can easily be cut with scissors!
lamp 12

Now it’s time for assembly. Be patient, it will get frustrating. First, hot glue one piece of wood around the top and bottom of the shade. If you have a large shade, like me, one piece will not fit… cut up another one and  do a little patch, like so…

lamps shade diy


I only glued the edges of the balsa wood down. You need to be able to tuck the ends into each other. Also, only the first few strips can be put on all in one piece. After that I started cutting the strips to fit specific spots and go under/ over certain pieces. I tried to keep the pieces as tight to the shade as possible.

diy lamp shade

The weaving process takes time and patience! My mom helped me a lot… I was getting frustrated! Many of the pieces in the pic below are only a few inches long. It’s not going to be perfect… it has issues… and that yellow wall was not helping the color in this picture either : /

lamp shade

Here she is full view, and you can’t really see the issues. I’m love her. She’s pretty. I’m hoping one day she might be a pendant light! We’ll see…


diy lamp shade


Once upon a time I was in another lamp contest… this was to win the ugly lamp award, ha! I also recently did a lamp makeover with paint and water and gave it a giant yellow shade. Anyhow, what do you think about my balsa wood beauty queen? I smitten with my new shade, and I hope you are too. Oh and if you liked this lampshade makeover, check out 22 more really awesome lampshade makeover ideas!