How To Build And Use A DIY Scrim (Made From A Portable Clothes Hanger)

Nov 3, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

How To Build And Use A DIY Scrim (Made From A Portable Clothes Hanger)

Nov 3, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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I have been planning around trying to build a DIY scrim for about a month now but couldn’t think of a frame where I could start my project. First thing I thought of was making it out of PVC pipes (sadly PVC pipes are not as easy to get here), then thought of using wood for the frame. I put it aside for a while until I found the perfect frame for my new project.

A scrim is not a stand alone unit and you want a light source behind it – either a strobe, a strong continuous light or even the sun. The scrim will diffuse that light (and eat quite a bit of it during the process) into a beautiful soft light.

Normally when I go to the local mall I visit the Japan Store because almost everything there is for P88 ($2USD) and there is a LOT of stuff to choose from, so I was looking around the other day and found a portable clothes hanger for around $5.50 USD. WIN! This would be the perfect frame for my next project. (If you don’t live in the Philippines, fret not, they are pretty cheap in the US too)

diy-scrim

This is a really quick and easy DIY scrim that almost anyone could do, so you may wanna go out to the dollar store and make one too.

What you will need:

  • Portable Clothes Hanger (Amazon, Homedepot)
  • White Cloth (preferably Nylon or silk cloth, the one you would used for a softboxes)
  • Tape (optional)
  • Needle and thread (optional)

How to do it:

Once you get all the ingredients, you just have to follow the instructions in the box or manual to build the hanger. I’ve used a clothes hanger before in my florescent square light. It was a bit more expensive, but the principles are similar. There are many different sizes and frames of portable hangers – they all have this height control thingy. It is just the cheapest one that I found is from the Japan Store. Here is my version of the build manual:

DIY Scrim (2)

DIY Scrim (4)
Instructions on the side of the box

Start off with the base of the hanger.

DIY Scrim (5)

Then follow with the sides and the top of frame. No need for any glue or tape, it’s pretty sturdy as is.

DIY Scrim edtd(6)

After building the portable hanger, hang your cloth over the frame. The first thing I did was to tape the cloth so that I could cut the excess pieces of the cloth.

DIY Scrim edtd(9)

If you like it quick and dirty, you could actually use the scrim with just a ton of tape in the sides to keep it in place.

DIY Scrim edtd(8)

But to make it look nicer and to stretch the cloth I hand sew the sides of the cloth. I did the top first and started with one side of the frame and kept stretching the cloth as I sew to have a seamless wrinkle-less scrim. I found that sewing is not my strongest talent :) so this part was the toughest part of this project for me.

DIY Scrim (14)

The Result:

Lighting through the scrim created beautiful soft light. You can think about it as a huge softbox that is not as spill-controlled as a real one. I did a quick shoot to show you what the final result looks like.

DIY Scrim (13)
Setup Shot. Bare studio strobe from camera right
DIY Scrim (12)
Bare studio strobe

 

Setup Shot. Studio strobe thru scrim camera right
Setup Shot. Studio strobe thru scrim camera right
Studio Strobe thru DIY scrim camera right
Studio Strobe thru DIY scrim camera right

So, that’s it. A really quick way to make a DIY scrim. I am planning to make a follow up article in a couple of weeks with some more creative ideas of using a scrim, so keep on tuning to DIYP.

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Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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8 responses to “How To Build And Use A DIY Scrim (Made From A Portable Clothes Hanger)”

  1. BelieveInFilm Gordon Avatar
    BelieveInFilm Gordon

    thank goodness it wasn’t a wire hanger.

  2. Timo van Buuren Avatar
    Timo van Buuren

    Loving it. I am a huge fan of diy, but mostly in the photography scene, where there is a distinct imnpression everything needs to be bought at a high price.

  3. Ed Selby Avatar
    Ed Selby

    another option – don’t cover the clothes hanger with the fabric. Use a couple of inexpensive spring clamps to hold the fabric (http://www.homedepot.com/p/HDX-2-in-Spring-Clamp-80002/100027346). You can also use the clothes hanger as a reflector stand, a go-bo, and a host of other jobs. I’ve had two of these in my home studio for years

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      cheers and thanks for sharing! :) will definitely use it as a reflector stand also

    2. Fred Avatar
      Fred

      Can you give more details with the Hanger ? thanks

  4. Lyle Avatar
    Lyle

    To date I’ve used my cheap clothes rack as a portable background stand for 1 person portraits in-studio and on location. It came with a handy carry bag, too.

    Thanks for the idea of using it as a scrim.

  5. ChshreCat Avatar
    ChshreCat

    They make clips designed for holding plastic to PVC pipe when making greenhouses. They would be perfect to holding the material on this. Would be easy to put on and take off if you wanted to add another layer of fabric or something and save you the time of sewing.

  6. Duncan Avatar
    Duncan

    If the clothes hanger is made of steel, a bunch of small rare-earth magnets (cheap enough off ebay) will hold the cloth, allowing you to swap it out for reflectors etc.

    You can also use magnets and some strips of black cloth held stiff with a cut up wire coat hanger to control spill somewhat