Saturday, May 10, 2014

An easier way to take earring pictures

I'm a little over halfway in stitching my Riding the Waves necklace.  I didn't have as much time to work on it as I'd hoped, and I had a few design decisions to make (and had to take pictures and write notes down along the way).  I'm really happy how it's turning out, and I'll be able to show you the whole necklace soon.

A while ago I decided that earrings in pictures looked better when they were hanging than laying down helter-skelter on a bead mat.  I made oversized earring cards using the sticky adapters I use for my standard earring cards (you can see the earring cards and the racks that my husband made for me here).  I made one in white and one in black so I could change the look based on the earrings.

The next challenge was where to take the actual pictures.  When I had my earring racks loitering in my office, I could just hang the "backdrops" on one of the rungs.  That wasn't a good solution, though, because I want to keep my studio clean and not have an earring rack sitting around.

When we moved my show stuff back to the basement, I tried propping the backdrops up, but that wasn't a good solution, either.  The cards kept sliding, and with them leaning against the printer, I was limited in how I could take the pictures.

I asked Steve if he could make a mini earring rack, figuring that he had extra supplies left from making the big ones.  It took a little while, but Steve made it for me today.

Here's what he has to say about the process:

We just donated a bunch of unwanted clothes to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a charitable organization for veterans. This left a lot of empty hangers in our closets. When I took the excess down to our laundry room, I decided to throw away the older wire ones that were already down there. One of them caught my eye, being made of a fairly heavy gauge steel wire. That reminded me of a project Traci had asked me for a while back: a small stand or rack on which she could hang a card to use as a backdrop for photographing earring projects. She had suggested a dowel crossbar, but when I noticed that the hanger wire was about 3/16”, the same width as the stick-on hook she uses for earring cards, I thought that could simplify the design and assembly.

I started by clamping the straight bottom of the hanger in a bench vise and using a Dremel tool to cut the upper angled wires about 3” from the ends. To give you an idea how substantial this hanger was, I went through 4 cutting disks getting through the wire on both sides. I then centered the wire in the vise and bent the now hook-shaped ends toward me, making a rough triangle. I next used the vise to straighten the hook ends so they were parallel at the bottom of the triangle, about 1” apart.

I next found an about 6” scrap of 1x4 from my scrap lumber pile and chucked a bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the wire into my drill. I drilled two holes through, about an inch apart, centered the long way and about 1” from the side the short way. I tried to push the wire into the holes for a friction fit, but the holes were too small, and tapping the wire into the wood with a hammer made the holes too loose. I secured them with some thin cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA, or super glue). Finally, I bent the wires toward the back of the wood, so the stand would lean back about 10 degrees. This would let the earrings lay against the card instead of just dangling, and make it easier to light for photography.

I gave it to Traci, and she said “Oh, that’s... not what I was thinking, but I think it’ll work.” I hope so!
Here's the final rack:

When Steve brought it to me, he said it looked like the thing on top of Tinky Winky's head (I have no idea how he knows about Teletubbies), and he put it on his head and started dancing.  Unfortunately, I was unable to snap a picture of that.

Like with my knitting ring, it ain't pretty, but it works!  Here's the back:

And here it is in action:

This should make taking pictures of earrings a lot easier.  When I'm done, I can tuck it away behind my laptop (with my stapler and three-hole punch), which means there will be no added clutter to the room.  Thanks, honey!

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