Making Your Own Photographic Props

High Stakes Game

Who knew we would be in lockdown number two and still dealing with the repercussions of a world gone crazy!  We like all of Ontarians began our second lockdown – for me here in Sault Ste. Marie, ON just as we entered into Christmas week and will only now start to slowly begin the reopening process this week.

It’s been an unusual winter this year which is probably a good thing, allowing for good walking conditions with the lack of snow.  I’ve become spoiled and soft.

Winter arrived however, and made up for lost time by the middle of January.

Pair these circumstances with a few minor health conditions and I have found myself inside more than I had  planned.  This eventually brought me into the sewing room to catch up on a few things like mending that got put off while I was out enjoying the great weather.

On A Pedestal

To say the struggle is real is an understatement.  Coming from a teaching background in specialty sewing techniques I found myself at a loss just to find the memory to thread my serger.  The very thing that has provided me with piece of mind for so many years had turned the tables.  After several attempts I finally succeeded and tasks were accomplished.

Pink Crown Steps Page 1

Recently putting my skills and time to good use I began creating still life images while indoors and unable to get or be outside.  I began to make various kinds of crowns of many types (in addition to other items) to use in those still life photographs.

My Easy Setup

I’ve included a photo of my photographing setup here.  Nothing expensive or unattainable was used but simple hand painted & textured backdrops made also by myself which served a great purpose.  These backdrops are easy to move around and transport.

Most of the time I use available window light but in this particular instance (with the pink crown) I used a constant light in a small inexpensive soft box.

In The Shadow

Once complete I carefully store these crowns for props to pull out and use in photos of all kinds at a later time.  They make ideal props for babies, girls yes and even boys, expectant moms and many other applications like still life photographs.

It’s interesting and ironic to see the crown featured in the shadow of my late mothers antique electric Singer sewing machine that is likely pushing at least 80 years old and perhaps older as best we could tell.

This was the machine I honed my skills on over the years after taking interest at the young age of five.  My mother inherited it when my parents moved into their first home after being married.

The crown is a product of modern technology – produced on a Husqvarna electronic sewing machine some 1/4th the age of the Singer.

I thought it may be a good idea to share the process of Lace Making for the two crowns I completed this week and how I use them in my still life images as they await a time when one day I can photograph in person, posed babies, etc. again.

Pink Crown

Most people can’t appreciate the amount of work that goes into a piece such as these regardless of the fact they are machine made.  Luckily I kept my IPad handy and documented the steps along the way.

Pink Crown Steps Page 2

My embroidery machine is now twenty-one years old and has served me well but there are many newer and fancier machines that can make shorter work out of these designs.  For this reason I may have a few more steps than some.

  • Lace is produced on a double layer of water soluble stabilizer that is hooped. ( fibrous water soluble stabilize is better suited for this type of work, not clear)
  • Enough bobbins of the same top thread are wound to be sure to have sufficient bobbin thread to complete the design without stopping in between. (there is no removing the hoop once the design is in progress.  Re-alignment would be an issue.  Perhaps not on one of the newer machines)
  • The hoop is mounted to the embroidery unit of the machine.
  • Designs are stitched slowly. – They can take any length of time to complete depending on the stitch count. ( Pink Crown took approximately 1.5 hours per unit/section, Purple Crown took approximately 45 minutes per unit/section.)Purple Crown Steps Page 1
  • Dependent on the design there are generally multiple units to the design.  (for the pink crown – 4 units/ sections, for the purple crown – 5 units/ sections)  This controls the size of the crown.
  • Once each section has been stitched remove from hoop and cut out with sharp, small, pointed scissors – closely but outside the design.  Be careful not to cut threads. –  It does not have to be accurate as all the remaining stabilizer will be dissolved away.
  • When all pieces are complete they are ready to be rinsed thoroughly under warm tap water – not hot and do not soak or use soap.
  • Place the wet lace on a thirsty towel and sandwich to absorb more water from it.
  • On a piece of Styrofoam covered with plastic wrap pin the lace pieces as you would if you were blocking a knitted item. – make sure the pins are rust proof.
  • Leave to dry pinned for about 24 hours until stiff and flat.
  • Unpin and stitch units together according to the instructions.  Both of these crowns had different instructions.
  • When not in use store carefully in acid free or archival safe box/paper to keep them in shape and safe from toxins that may change their appearance.
  • Pull out when needed and enjoy.

Most photographers have a creative side.  Why not spend some time tapping into it when you can’t be out shooting or just to supplement your next shoot.   It’s important to tap into your creativity for growth.

I’ve always loved doing themed shoots and I can honestly say I’m certainly looking forward to my next one.

Purple Crown Steps Page 3

Misplaced My Crown

Break Time

written by


A privileged descendant of immigrant settlers to Turtle Island who makes home on Robinson Huron Treaty Land which was lovingly nurtured and respected by the Anishinabek nations of the Ojibway, Potawatami and Odawa peoples.  She is a graduate of The Photography Institute of Canada and currently completing advanced studies after retiring from her working career in healthcare. Professional Photographers of Canada Accredited her in - Ornithology / Bird Photography (2021), Fine Art (2022), Pictorial / Scenic (2021), Wildlife (2022) as well as Animals (2022), Nature (2023) & Night Photography (2023). She has also been a National and Regional Award recipient multiple times over in 2021 and 2022 having images chosen to exhibit in Professional Photographers of Canada's prestigious National Exhibition 2022, Ontario's prestigious Regional Exhibition 2021 as well as British Columbia's and Eastern Canada's prestigious Regional Exhibitions 2022. Operating out of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada Violet has been a freelance photojournalist for SooToday in the past and still takes on freelance projects today. Her specialties include Wildlife, Landscape and Fine Art Photography, with special interests in Food Photography and Urban Decay but practices many more well-rounded photographic skills.