Not sure if this link will work... ... but I came across this when researching this fellow (Duke D'Ambra) for a hotel with a print of his hanging in the lobby.

This is from Popular Mechanics, 1931, For several years I have used painted background curtains in making home-portrait photographs, and as the curtains had to be folded and unfoled, the paint at the folds cracked. In making up a new background, I found it much better to ink the cloth instead of painting it. This was done with the aid of a fly sprayer filled with ink of desired shade, spraying until the proper tint had been obtained. The spray was then emptied and washed with gasoline, after which ink of another color was put into it and the other side sprayed - Duke D'Ambra, Lawrence, Kans.

This just reminded me of it!

I've always lliked the fabric backdrops used by Seydou Keita in his portraits.