Creating diorama backdrops – a new experiment

While my indoor rooms have walls, my outside sets need diorama backdrops – the sky, trees, flowers – something that defines their space as existing somewhere other than in my garage workshop.

I’ve tried a number of different diorama backdrops in Lily and Camellia’s episodes.

The backdrop behind Lily here from from Episode 8 is a printout of a photo onto 8 1/2 x 11 paper, and then I hot glued sticks and plastic flowers to it.

For her next episode, I needed something taller, so I just strung a flowery scarf around the set, which wasn’t entirely effective, but it looked better than the back of my storage shelves 🙂

Camellia has an actual photo diorama backdrop behind her, but its so big that I have to hang it from the ceiling, making it hard to easily switch it out (since that requires a ladder and a whole lot of leaning and reaching)

The full set

I also have an official diorama backdrop holder, which looks roughly like this one:

But it’s base is so big that I have to stand it on the floor, while my dioramas are at counter heights.

Which is all to say that none of the normal backdrop methods are working out all that well for me. So, I decided to go another way. I had a few jerry-rigged setups, with sticks anchored to shelves, which had a germ of the right idea to them. I tried to create a framework out of tinker toys, but either I don’t remember how they used to work, or they’ve gotten substantially worse, because they just did not seem to fit together very well.

Finally, I found something called Fort Magic, which lets you build, well, forts. The pieces are the right lengths (12 and 24 inch, mainly), they fit together well, they’re endlessly flexible, and they come with cloth clips that let you easily attach fabric around the sides.

Here’s something I put together in about 5 minutes, with my (very concerned) dog in the shot for scale. I made it pretty big, but it still fits well on the table and makes it so that I don’t have to shoot at odd angles.

diorama backgroun - frame

The next step is to find some light blue jersey-type material to attach to it (as a sky backdrop).

For a better sense of how it works, check out the pictures on the fort magic site.

I think, as a present to poor Daisy and her slap dash spaces, I’m going to do her next episode in a nice park outdoors, and we’ll see how well the new backdrop method works.

My next full episode – Daisy making sense of all of her photos – will be after the holidays. I’ll try to drop in a few pics and asides before then, and may all of your holiday doll adventures be happy.

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Episode 14: Rosie’s fairy adventure

Another quiet night at home, playing with paper fairy dolls.

Rosie and her fairy paper dolls
Rosie tries to fly like a fairy
Rosie lies down and plays with her dolls
Rosie drifts off playing with her dolls
Rosie is carried to bed
Rosie is put to bed
The fairy appears
Rosie is grabbed by the fairy
Rosie out the window

It’s hard to keep all of my dolls safe. As soon as Camellia safely washes ashore and tames the panther, poor Rosie is kipnapped by fairies.

She’s about to enter another painted world – one of the paintings is already outside her window. It’s a little blurry, so probably a bit hard to recognize. Also, as a bit of a hint, although he’s well known for painting nature, his most famous series are more watery than the scene out the window.


I don’t have much to take you on a tour through this week. We’ve already seen Rosie’s room, and I’m not using any new photographic techniques (just trying to learn Photoshop!). So I may take you through other things I’m experimenting with in doll world.

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