Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wall Art

In this tutorial we will learn how to create a simple wall plaque similar to the one shown below:

Keep in mind that you don't have to use the colors that I use or the mounting material. I usually use gator foam, but you can use anything you find around the house like wood or plastic. Just make sure that what you choose has a good enough surface for spackle to stick to. As far as colors go, I tend to gravitate towards the earth tones, but that's just me. Don't be afraid to try other things.
This project will actually go on my wall. I have an empty spot in my bedroom that is just begging for a matching piece.

I am going to cut a long piece of gator foam amounting to the combined length of the two plaques that are already on the wall. Here is the stuff we will need:

1. Regular Spackle (don't buy the light stuff).
2. Spackling knife.
3. Golden gel medium (matte) or any other type of sealer like polycrylic protective finish (water base ones will produce less harmful fumes) or polyurethane (stinks to high heaven). Whether you want gloss or satin is up to you. I used semi gloss on my previous pieces, but I think for this one I will use satin.
4. Gator foam or another material of your choice. Note: if you pick gator foam, make sure to buy the stronger one. The light stuff might warp a bit under the weight of the spackle.
5. Paint - Cheap acrylic crafts paint will do. If you want you can also use gel stains. Sometimes I use color washes.
6. A couple of pieces of appliques. You can purchase them for a couple of dollars in lumber yards or on the internet. They don't have to be wood. The cheaper ones are made of urethane (high density foam). Since we are going to paint them anyway, the material that the appliques are made out of will not make a significant difference.

Let's get started. Lay out your piece of foam or wood and play around with the position of the appliques.

Once you are satisfied with the look, remove the appliques and start applying spackle to the surface. Don't worry about it being perfect or even. We are trying to achieve just the opposite effect, so put that spackle on as sporadically and unevenly as possible. Make sure it's a thick enough layer for the appliques to stick to, although even if they fall off, you can glue them on later. Don't wait for the spackle to dry. Take the appliques and push them in where you initially planed to put them. Make sure they're fit nice and snug into into the spackle.

Wait until everything is completely dry. Here you will have to make some choices as far as the colors goes. What color do you want your appliques to be? What color background? Do you want a solid coat or a transparent wash? If we want solid colors, then we simply paint it with the color of choice. If we want transparency, the we will use color washes and stains, but before we start with any of these, let's cover our piece with a coat of satin polycrylic protective finish (don't cover the appliques). This will seal the spackle and make it a bit smoother to work with. Now, let's take a color (i picked yellow) and apply it to the surface. Again, don't try to make it perfect. This is just a base coat. Wait until dry. Take a gel medium and apply on top of the base coat. Make it a very thin layer. The reason I put the gel medium on it is to make a smoother surface. You can use matte or semi gloss. It's up to you.

Now what we are going to do is apply another color mixed with a "gel stain medium". I work in small patches. Put it on, then wipe it off with a rag leaving more color in cracks and crevices. Note that for this step you can use regular gel stain that you can purchase in any hardware store. I didn't have any on hand, so I mixed the paint with the gel stain medium to give it some flexibility when wiping it off. You can also use color washes. Put it on, wipe it off. You can't screw this up because like I said before, the more uneven it is, the better. After you're done, pick a color for your appliques, or paint them the same color. It's all up to you. After everything has dried, apply a protective finish of your choice.

That's it. You're done. If you're wondering how to hang this on the wall, I use Velcro if the material is light enough. If you would like me to do a different tutorial, leave a comment. If I am able, I will do it. For those of you who have tried this tutorial and absolutely loved the results, consider making a donation (paypal). You can give as little or as much as you want on my main website

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Josie said...

Lara, your stuff is absolutely exquisite....! I am going to come back to read through more of your blog when I have some more time. I am a wee bit rushed right now, but my goodness, I am impressed....!


Lara Berch Tutorials said...

Thanks Josie
I can't seem to access your blog anymore. It is giving me error messages.

Jackie Von Tobel said...

Hi, Just found your blog through Katie did - I am a fellow blogger and longtime decorative artist, designer, & author. Love your website. I use high density acoustical ceiling tiles covered with spackle or drywall plaster to achieve a similar as your boards look but it gives the appearance of stone. I'll email you a picture if you'd like.

Anonymous said...

this was very cool.

more fun wall art: