Thursday, January 12, 2012

DIY wood backdrops: make your own stain

When I first started this project I had no idea that I am going to run such post in food blog. I haven't clicked any pictures, like gluing the wood panels etc,... But later, I realized the technique is useful for those who wants to get distressed look without the store bought paint  and create a plain weathered wood backdrop. We have already done few DIY painting project in our home. We have stained twice our fence and patio in past years.  So I was quiet confident that I can do on my own.
I purchased:
  Pine wood paneling (contains 12 boards) (~ $ 9.00)
 few samples of paint bottles comes with small brush (Bingo - 4 bottles for a dollar - clearance items)
Wood glue ($3.50)

Skill: Easy

First step

I glued 4 pieces together (thickness is 1/4 inch) and made 3 boards with 12 pieces can make total 6 backdrops (used both side). Use a paint tape to keep together- leave 24 hours undisturbed.
The board size depends the angles you photograph and how much space you use to arrange your food.

Second Step
Planned to stained 5 different colors and give one side a weathered look (old age wood look).
First I diluted a brown paint and tried, the wood had a light brown color. I was not satisfied with that stain. I wanted something grey almost like aging one outside in weather for years. I searched and landed in many wood forums, ah this time not food forum. I got the ebonizing technique. With a mix of vinegar and steel wool  solution you can stain the wood. All wood reacts differently because of the level of tannic acid content. So test in corner or even in sample of scrap wood.

The great thing , you can make the solution by yourself at home with two common items.

White Vinegar*(1 cup) + steel wool *(1/2 of the bundle - just rip into small pieces). 
Required an empty glass jar with lid

*Vinegar: even cider vinegar can be used
*Steel wool: (We get the steel wool for scraping the bottom of aluminum pot to shine- can be used - but leave few more days in solution)

For safety: cloves and mask.

Needed items for making the stain

Put the wool in glass jar and pour the vinegar until it is fully covered. Keep the lid on top loosely, in case any bubble/gas can escape. Can be stored in shady place outdoor or even garage.
After 24 hours, you can visually see a powdery iron floating in vinegar (almost clear liquid mine).

After 24 hours, brew some tea with 1/2 cup of water and 1 or 2 tea bags.

 Ready to be stained in wood plank.

Before Painting

After a tea coat (tea could be warm doesn't matter)

Vinegar+ wool solution applied

Only one coat- mine turned almost like elephant grey after 30 min-grain where quiet visual

You can paint the solution after removing the wool - but giving a tea coat before it really darken the wood instantly. But leave the wood at least 24 hours, you can see the real color. Wipe with a clean rag/ paper towel to remove the small residue of iron.

You can sand it or even leave it. You can paint now with the color you want and wipe the excess with a rag/paper towel - to bring the distressed look!

Always try in a piece of wood or corner.
Try without the tea coating first, feel not satisfied -you can apply on top.
Use a brush - Rag is wiping the stain and doesn't give a paint strokes.
You can even thin the solution with water : 1:2 part of water. And can apply 3 or more coats until satisfied.

Removing the vinegar+  steel wool solution with lime

Not satisfied at all with this method, I don't think so, well simply take a lime wedge and rub, natural way of striping the paint.
This could be a great base before staining and give a distressed look to your background.

Some may feel the vinegar smell is gross, but being a foodie myself, thought it was PICKLING solution! So go ahead and pickle your wood and give a nice rustic look!
Gentle reminder: work outside - because you might stain accidentally anything!

Here it is my six backdrops in 3 boards.
1 rst side

2nd side (reversed)

Sample of backdrops

 Note: For backdrop, I use papers, placemats, towels, even the "Chudidar Duppatta" ( Indian outfit shawl), wood is another great option.

Hope it will help any photographers who look to stain naturally or give a distressed wood look! If you came for food recipe- I will be back for Pongal ( 15 Jan or 16 Jan with my post).


Manasi said...

Oh wow!!! Thank u!!! A year ago, or so, I had reada similar post but the dodo that i am, did not bookmark ... Result, no idea where to look!
I told this to my other blogger pal just 10 daya ago and now u hv posted this awesome writeup!
Thanx again!!!

notyet100 said...

This is on my mind since a long time,thanks for the tutorial,..:)

Cilantro said...

Thanks a lot Cham. I have few pieces of wood and was looking to stain them recently and you gave me the answers. The ones that I have are heavy and the panels are a good idea.
I will start the project after Pongal and will let you know how it turns out.

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

very cool ! Nice job on the staining and the detailed directions! Dont worry, even if we don't paint, but we can still enjoy the post...

Madhuram said...

My goodness Cham, you are really very patient. Great job. The flower pictures are so good with the backdrop.

Harini said...

Informative post and lovely boards, Cham! I am glad I am connecting back with you. It now brings to mind the kind of beautiful posts you do. I missed them! I have more time to bloghop this year and I am so happy about that!

Sumi said...

great tutorial..It never striked me that you can do something like this by yourself..thanks for the wonderful idea and tips.

Aarthi said...

nice post..very useful one..


Sayantani said...

very very useful trick Cham. thanks a ton for this tip. am not sure that we will get this kind of boards here in India but have seen the light weight pieces which are used in the construction sites. will soon do this.

Laavanya said...

Wow! Appreciate your talent and creativity.

Happy Cook / Finla said...

Wowow i love the idea i did two boards but just painted the colors i wanted in the spring time i am going to make another board that stained one .

magpie said...

Oh this is such a good idea! Love the grey and the dark blue! Wish I could could just order a board from you :P

Priya said...

Wow thats truly very useful post, cant wait to make some soon..

Sujatha said...

Happy new year to you too Cham! Loved your post.. very different and useful..

Uma said...

Interesting and creative project Cham. Well done!!

BongMom said...

Thanks Cham. I really used to wonder from where people get all that distressed wood backdrop for their pics !!! Will have to wait till I can venture out to do this though

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is an amazing post.. Great job on the backdrop..

Viki's Kitchen said...

Happy New year and joyful Pongal dear! Nice post and I will keep it in mind for my DIY projects.

Priya's Feast said...

Nice post on making stained woods..I was searching for woods,as i am not in big mood to click in cliche white backgrounds....Fab Woods,cham..Well done..


Hope your year started great! :) really useful post!

Miri said...

Wow - thats some amazing work Cham! Kudos!

G.Pavani said...

oh! very useful info.thanks dear for sharing..

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Very useful and beautiful backdop. Loved the look of it.

Hamaree Rasoi

Sharmilee! :) said...

You know how many wood shops I have asked for these types of rustic finish woods..And they dont even undertsand what I ask...Thanks so much for this awesome post.

Though I've tried painting few wooden boards didnt know its this easy to get that rustic look. Now my only concern is : is it easy to get pine wood panelling here in india? Let me try and see..Once again thanks so much for this post. Do keep more like this coming :)

Shabitha Karthikeyan said...

Wonderful post Cham !! You r the best !!

Cham said...

SharmyWood panelling doesn't exist in India, but you can go with any big blog of wood enough to lay your food - but I feel it might be heavy 2 handle!
I never thought this post will be useful for many bloggers - thanks

rekhas kitchen said...

OMG thats a wonderful post and very helpful too thanks for the Ideas BTW after a long time am in your place How are you? Bookmarked this post dear.

Usha said...

Nice post, Cham! I wanted to paint some wood for my backdrops. I went to Home Depot few weeks ago to checkout the wooden planks. The width of the planks was too small and I drop the idea. It never occurred to me that I could glue the planks to increase the width. Thanks for the post.

Happy Cook / Finla said...

CHam I did one ^plank well i didn't stick together as i had a big plank, but i think my wood was too smooth so didn't get the same efffect as your and also my iron rag was not same as yours. Still it looks ok,especially with the tea stain, maybe i will do another plank when i get the correct iron wool. Thankyou for the inofo for making them.

Cham said...

Any iron should work- the solution works with the type of woods- mine is pine which works quiet well.
For rough look, probably with sharp tool -make some scratches (not overdo)- u get the distress look .

Shabs.. said...

Hey cham, thanks alot for the info and the post is really good. Stumbled here thru Finlas FB. I recently painted a wooden board and not at all happy with that. You can see it on my blog, last post. Now I have couple of more boards left, I know what to do...Thank you so much!You have done a great job!