Recently I booked a high school senior, class of 2016 and a sweet 16 photo shoot, both happening within a couple of weeks of one another. While searching online for props, I decided to attempt making my own photo prop in order to answer my own question: Should I make my own props? Thus began The Adventure of The Cardboard Sixteen.
When I started this project, I had no idea how much time it would actually take to complete it. I had never worked with cardboard as a medium before but was excited to try it. Here's the supplies I used in creating my Cardboard Sixteen.
The cardboard that I found that was large enough came from a U-haul store that carries boxes in store. I've been to some U-haul locations that do not sell boxes so if you're considering this option, call ahead to ask before making the drive. I used the Large Mirror Box, dimensions being 37"x 4" x 27" pictured above.
I wanted to have the numbers stand tall enough to look proportional for in the photos, which is why I selected this size box. It's important that you cut through two pieces of cardboard AT THE SAME TIME, for each number, so that they line up exactly matching each other. This is another benefit of the box I purchased.
First, count your blessings, say a prayer, pour a cup of coffee... You may be here for a while.
Next, select what font to use as a guide for the #s. You may be a talented drawer, however I'm not so much and preferred having a guide to go by. I sketched the numbers out on paper first to get the feel for what it would look like, and then got to sketching it on the cardboard.
Once I had the number drawn to my liking, I started the incision process with the X-acto knife. This part took some patience, but you can persevere! I believe in you.
Once your number is cut out, you should have two pieces of cardboard. For my 3D numbers, I made the depth 5 inches. You decide your own depth based on how tall or short your project is. Making sure each strip of cardboard was 5 inches wide, I began using masking tape to hold the pieces in place until I could get the hot glue to really secure them.
After this step, it's smooth sailing with getting the top part of the number on. Repeating the same step as above, I taped it down all the way around, finishing it up with hot glue.
Next, I painted the whole front and sides of the one, using almost the exact same color as the crepe paper. I only did this as precaution in case there were any tiny gaps in the fringe work that will come into play next.
The final step was gluing the fringes to the cardboard. I created my own fringes and that could seriously be its own tutorial. If you are lost on how to make the fringes, fear not! There are countless tutorials online that can help you.
When gluing down the fringes, I used a regular paint brush, dabbed a few dots of Matte Mod Podge on the fringe and pressed it onto the cardboard.
And finally, the completed Cardboard One!!!! This project was an enjoyable way to spend my Saturday! It stormed all afternoon and rained on into the evening, making for a relaxing setting to tackle a DIY prop! So maybe now when it's storming wherever you are on a Saturday afternoon, you'll think of a DIY project you've been wanting to try and I hope that you at least attempt. Had I not, I wouldn't have this cool and funky prop to take along my next two shoots! ;)
To see how this DIY prop photographs, be sure you follow on Instagram and Facebook!
Now I want to hear from you! What's a DIY project you've been wanting to go for? Leave your comment below!
Documenter of love
Wedding photographer. Writer. Empath. Ice cream connoisseur. Feels naked without nail polish.