I regularly stop in the local thrift stores to peruse their dish selection, searching for interesting colors, patterns and textures that I might want to use in a future mosaic. Some days I leave empty handed, other days I come home with a huge stack of dishes to break. Of every few hundred plates I see, I find one or two with its own appealing, unique qualities and I have to take them home. I've amassed a wide variety of plates that I have no idea what I'll do with (let me know if you need any 25th Wedding Anniversary plates, or a Mother Jones Monument plate), so I decided to decorate a boring wall.
That was back in November. I've been satisfied with it until today, when I read this blog post and saw a more sophisticated and colorful wall collage. Sara gathered meaningful art, painted simple, inexpensive frames and transformed a plain wall into an art gallery. (Seriously, go check it out, it's awesome.) And the best part is that she showed how she decided where the nails go.
For the longest time, I'd see wall collages and wonder how in the world can someone hang 30 different things on one wall and make it look good? And how do these people know where the nails go? It takes one kind of effort to choose materials that create cohesion and balance, but it takes math and craftsmanship to actually get nails into the wall - after you decide where the nails need to go. That always felt like the trickiest part, so I took a few photos as I was trying to figure out how to assemble a wall of plates. I had no idea what I was doing, so I like seeing how Sara approached a similar project.
I first hung up a piece of brown kraft paper in the space that I wanted to fill. I marked the thermostat's location (Sara had to work a light switch into her collage), then laid the piece of paper on the floor. This gave me boundaries and a visual reference as to how the plates would look on the wall.
Note: I have a giant roll of brown kraft paper for mosaic purposes, but in the past I have taped together a bunch of sheets of paper and that worked just as well. Sara used wrapping paper, which I find brilliant.
I spent more than two hours deciding which plates to use, arranging and rearranging them into different patterns, until I realized that I could switch them out at any time so just pick something already.
I traced all the plates onto the paper, numbering each plate and its tracing. A few friends teased me for it, but this step prevented me from being frustrated when trying to hang plates in their intended spot. Labeling was a logical part of the template-making process and after seeing Sara do the same thing, I think it's necessary to stay organized.
I also marked where each nail hole needed to be because it was different for every plate.
I started to cut a slot in the paper at each nail hole and mark the wall, but then I realized I could just drill through the paper... so I drilled the holes while the paper was still up.
I have plaster walls, so for each plate I pre-drilled a hole, hammered in an anchor, then screwed a screw into the anchor.
After all that prep work, it only took about five minutes to take down the paper and hang 28 plates.
It's fun (and easy) to revamp my wall once it starts to feel boring again. Every now and then I rearrange some of the collage to bring out new plates from my reserve, or to display an album or two, but there are a few pieces that have sentimental value and for that they will always stay on the wall.