Updated: Apr 24
I started by positioning one of my strip boxes to the right side of my background in an attempt to create a gradient (white on the right, fading to gray on the left). I took some photos of just the background until I was satisfied with that. They're pretty boring so I'm not going to show them here, but this is how I set up the light.
Next I placed a light with stripbox to the left of my subject and placed a diffuser between the light and the subject. I put the light at an angle to the diffuser and positioned the diffuser so that it touched the edge of the stripbox in order to create a gradient with a 'hard' edge on the bright side. A technique I learned should be applied to glossy subjects in order to show the shiny texture from the Photigy class.
In that picture, you'll notice that I had also placed a stripbox and diffuser on the right side of the subject as well. I did that after I shot the photo below which was taken with the single light on the left and the background light.
Pretty decent for my very first attempt at studio product photography IMHO.
I learned a number of lessons while putting together this first image. First, I realized that the 4'x4' light diffuser I made was much too heavy for the stand and boom arm I was using to hold it. I had constructed a full square frame out of balsa wood in an effort to make it light enough to be supported by one of my light stands, but it was still too heavy. So I removed the sides of the frame and the metal corner hardware I used to secure the wood together. Once there was only the Savage Translum diffusion material and two pieces of wood (top and bottom), I was able to suspend the diffuser from one of my light stands. I still had to use the largest, heaviest light stand I had, but at least it was working. In the resulting photo, you can see the gradient on the background which starts out white on the right side and fades to gray on the left. It's a subtle gradient, but I'm considering it a success. On the vase, you can see the gradient I created with the diffuser on the left side. The gradient starts out with a hard line toward the left edge of the vase and fades to a soft ending as it trails off to the right. Woo Hoo! Another success. Thanks to Alex Koloskov and Photigy.com!