Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Damask Patterned Wall Mural

So I had this crazy idea a couple of weeks ago…..a damask patterned wall mural.   Although there are still several projects to  be completed in this room (cornices, draperies, silver leafing of mirror frame, crown molding, new carpet, upholster piano bench, and dressing up the lamp shades), I thought I might go ahead and show how I painted this damask pattern.   I’m still not in love with the design (I think it needs to be chunkier), but I do like the formality it adds to this room.  I might modify it some day but my arms are in NO HURRY.  They were sore for a week from all the stippling!
This is a photo of our formal living room, although WE call it the “piano room.”  Go figure.   When I painted this wall blue three years ago, I also planned on painting ?something? behind the chairs, going up the wall.  I did eventually end up hanging a pair of paintings I made to hang over each chair, but I ended up not really liking the paintings in that space so down they came.  Lately though, I’ve been seeing lots of large scale, shimmery metallic, deliciously beautiful, very formal, damask patterned wallpaper in some really cool modern spaces so I thought I might give it a try on the blue piano wall.   Now, we are not very “formal” people, but we do like to get gussied up every now and again, get out the good china, and eat in our dining room.  And since our dining room and piano room are one big room, separated only by the open two-story foyer which is planked by four columns (two seen in mirror reflection), I wanted this entire space to feel more formal than the rest of the home.  So, that’s where the damask pattern idea came from. 

IMG_4947After taking some measurements (knowing that I wanted a large scale pattern), and sketching it out (I like to sketch all of my ideas first on graph paper), I decided what size to make the diamond.  I then used a huge piece of cardboard to make a prototype.  Luckily, we Santa brought the kids a basketball goal for Christmas - which just happened to come in a very large box.  I decided to use three different stencils to design this pattern.  I used one stencil for the fleur de lis in the center, one for the swirly vines (that’s the part I wish was chunkier), and one for the flowers (which are supposed to sort of look like the hanging lamp shades).  I did buy two of the swirly vines to save me some time.  But in hindsight, I should have bought two more, and a few more of the flower stencils as well to save even more time.  Stencils aren’t cheap though so now that I’m done, and now that my arm is back to normal, I’m glad I saved the money since I’m not sure when I will use these stencils again.  By the way, this project took me 5 days to complete which was about 3 days too long for me.

I started by taping my prototype to the center of the top of the wall.  One might think “Hmmmm, wonder why she didn’t take that mirror down first?”  Well, that’s because it’s screwed to the wall and I’m  NOT taking that thing down any time soon.  Normally, that would drive me nuts knowing that the wall is not painted behind the mirror but it was too hard to get up there and the wall will need some repairing anyway when if I ever take it down (ruining the paint job).  So let’s just say it’s our little secret.  Okay?  On a side note, I bought that “bathroom” mirror at a neighbor’s yard sale for $5, attached it to the wall with a mirror rail, had my husband assistant cut molding to frame it (routing out the bottom molding to allow for the rail), screwed it to the wall, and then painted it.  It still needs some silver leafing because it’s too dark and dull, but it was an inexpensive way to get a huge mirror.  I DID, however, move the piano out from the wall, all by myself I might add, and continued the mural behind the piano just in case.....

It took some time to figure out this next step out, but once I did, the project quickly went from “think phase” to “paint phase.”  I used the piece of cardboard from which I cut the diamond prototype to figure out exactly where the next diamond should go.  So, that piece of cardboard that I had actually already discarded was key because I could easily determine where my next diamond should be placed, and attach my stencils within the cut-out area. 
After painting a few of the stencils along the top of the wall, I decided to tape out the remaining diamonds using the prototype for spacing.  My plan was to do this in the beginning, but with the wall being blank, it was just too difficult for me to figure out until I started seeing the pattern.  At that point, it was smooth sailing…..just very time consuming.  Oh, did I mention that I was up and down the ladder about 4900 times?  So not only were my arms so very sore from all the dabbing with my stencil brush, my legs and butt were also sore.  I’m a pretty active person and I was surprised what a toll this took on my body.  It was a bigger job than I had anticipated.
TIP: Don’t let the paint build up too much on the front side of the stencils.  It will build up in the holes of the stencil and if you have small holes as were the flower stencil, it will eventually cover them completely not allowing any paint through.  So be sure to wipe both sides of the stencil off before reattaching to the wall – especially if you’ll be using the stencil a lot.


After the stenciling was complete, I added a little detail that you just can’t get with a stenciling alone. I tried several different variations on the prototype before making my final decision on how to detail the wall mural. I ended up using a black paint pen to give the white flowers a little more definition. And finally, the last step was using a silver leaf pen to outline the fleur de lis and also to add a little shimmer to the flowers. I tried to show this in the photos, but it just shows up so much better in person.

Like I so often do, I forgot to take a “Before” photo, but the photo below does show the plain blue wall before the mural.  I guess technically it is a “Before” picture but it would have been nice to get the shot standing in the same place as I was standing for the “After” picture.

Before    IMG_2887



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