So where were we . . . . . . . . . prior to the mask making interruption. . . . . . . . . oh yes, “composing a gallery wall and installing it easily and perfectly by yourself”.
Gallery walls are very popular these days, and for good reason. It’s fun and stylish to display your favorite art and photos rather than have them sadly tucked away awaiting “the plan” and “the time.” If you have children, you more than likely have an ever growing selection of artwork that would be delightful to display (….before your children leave for college). Additionally, with open concept house plans, we tend to have large expanses of uninterrupted walls that are virtually impossible to treat with just one or two pieces of artwork.
So, let’s assume you have lots of artwork to hang, but you haven’t tackled that project yet for a variety of reasons. If you’re concerned that your current collection of art poses too much of a commitment (fearing that “once the gallery wall is up, it can never change”), you might want to check out a terrific hanging system called the Walker Display System:
I’ve posted about the Walker system before (“How to Display Your Children’s Artwork”) and especially like that it allows for the easy reconfiguration and the addition of new art. Galleries, libraries, and shops use the Walker Display System, or other similar systems, to showcase their ever-changing displays. As shown in the photo below, it imparts a bit of a modern vibe, so consider whether that will work with your décor. But once you have that top rail installed, everything is reconfigurable, so it’s a great option for most people.
If you want to go the old-fashioned route of hanging your artwork with hooks and nails (and no connecting rods), then you have a bit more of an opportunity for placement creativity. But the issues then become (1) how to arrange your artwork for an interesting effect and (2) how to actually hang the pictures without it taking forever.
For advice on arranging your artwork, let me point you to the All Modern website which gives some terrific tips in their article titled “How to Create a Gallery Wall”. Here’s some of their advice on gathering the art for your gallery wall:
“Grab pieces from around your home, ones hidden away in the attic, or art you've collected for this purpose. Take stock of what you have and consider these factors:
What I’ll help you with today is a fast (!) and super simple way for determining exactly where to put the nails and picture hooks in the wall to achieve the overall look that you desire. Miraculously, there’s very little measuring involved.
The materials that you will need are:
Step 1: Create paper templates of your artwork.
Rollout the gridded wrapping paper and randomly lay out your artwork on the gridded side of the wrapping paper. Trace around the frame of each picture on the wrapping paper. To make rearranging the art easier I‘ve laid everything out on the carpet, which enables me to get a good view of all the artwork and the overall montage. Note: In this step-by-step process, I’m using some of my daughter’s artwork. She is prolific and it’s all beautiful.
Step 2: Flip the artwork over and label both the artwork and templates.
Labeling the pictures at this stage will help enormously. In addition, label both the front and back of the template with the number of the appropriate piece of art. I suggest you also label the number on both the front and back of the picture. Next, look at the hanging device (for example, a triangular hook, sawtooth hook, or wire that will need a few nails) for each picture. On each template, mark where the nail(s) should be placed. You will eventually transfer this point to the wall, so measure and transfer it accurately.
Step 3: Cut out all the templates that you’ve drawn.
Step 4: We now have our templates.
Don’t skip this template stage. It’s very important since the templates show the positions of the nails that will eventually go into the wall. Having these templates also allows you to easily try out alternate arrangements - either on the wrapping paper on the floor - or actually on the wall using blue painter’s tape to temporarily hang the templates.
Step 5: Roll out more wrapping paper - wide enough for the gallery wall - and try out different arrangements with the artwork.
Based on the test arrangements that you made using the templates on the wall, place your artwork on the rolled out paper as it pleases you. If you haven’t tried out different arrangements on the wall, then play with different arrangements on the rolled out paper using either the artwork or the templates. For this example I’ve shown a very symmetric arrangement, but asymmetric arrangements work very well and are probably preferred if you have a great deal of artwork, perhaps more than 6 pieces.
Once you’ve decided on your final configuration, trace around the picture frames so that you’ve captured the final layout on the rolled out paper.
If your gallery wall height (the vertical distance of the pictures) is large, you might need to connect two strips of paper together. If you are doing a configuration up the stairs, you will definitely need to connect papers together.
If you would like to use computer technology to play with different layouts (instead of paper), you can take a photo of the arrangement and Photoshop or PowerPoint it onto a picture of your wall. I have rendering software that will easily do this. So, if you want some help send me a photo of your wall, the size (width) of the wall, and a photo of the wrapping paper with the pictures placed upon it. Give me the dimensions of the wrapping paper, and I will scale your photo montage accordingly and give you a rendering of your proposed configuration.
Step 6: Remove the pictures from the rolled out paper.
Remove the artwork and place the appropriate template onto that picture’s space. In the example below, I place Template 2 on top of the final desired location for picture 2. Next, use an awl (or other pointy object) to push through both pieces of paper to mark where the nail should go.
Step 7: Place all templates on the rolled out paper and mark all nail spots.
Having the paper on carpet makes this an easy exercise. If you are working on a table, you can use carbon paper between the template and the rolled out paper to record the nail marks - but please, do it gently so that you don’t damage your table.
Step 8. Now you should have all of the outlines of the pictures drawn on the rolled out paper with all of the nail spots marked.
Step 9: Hang the roll of paper on the wall with blue painter’s tape, making sure the horizontal grid lines are perfectly level.
Step 10: Now you know where to hammer the nails. Make slight indentations with a nail, remove the paper, and finish the process. Hang the pictures and you’re done. Viola!
Featured Artwork was made by My Daughter
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a fraction of my daughter’s artwork that I used for demonstration purposes in the photos for this gallery wall tutorial. We have several gallery walls in our home with her beautiful artwork in oils, pencil, watercolor and acrylic mediums. If you’d like to see more of her art and photographs, you can see it online by going to her Redbubble shop - which I previously mentioned in my “Finding Inspiration in Your Travel Photos” blog post.
On the Redbubble site you can purchase over 75+ different types of items with artwork from over 500,000 artists printed on them (e.g. mugs, stickers, phone cases, wall art prints, T-shirts, pillows, acrylic blocks, coasters, postcards, greeting cards, tote bags, drawstring bags, water bottles, shower curtains, spiral notebooks, etc.,). We’ve enjoyed seeing where my daughter’s customers are coming from around the globe.
Amusingly, with COVID-19 currently raging, people have started buying one of her photos from the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie set located in Hobbiton, New Zealand for facial masks. The photo’s of Bag End with the “No admittance except on party business” sign. Now that’s just perfect for a mask!
Who would have thought?? In any event, you might want to check out her Redbubble shop and browse around. You will of course recognize some of the originals that I used in this demonstration.
Stay healthy and productive. Drop me a note, or give me a call, if you get stuck during your efforts to create a gallery wall. I’ll be happy to help you out with a rendering if you ask.
In my previous blog, I promised this post would be about “composing a gallery wall and installing it easily and perfectly by yourself”. Well, as all of you know, these days plans change fast!
Since I wrote my previous blog, I’ve set aside my decorating efforts for a couple of days each week to make face masks for my family and friends to protect them from the COVID-19 virus when they are out and about.
I’m not selling these masks, or making them for the general public, so why am I blogging about them? Well, in short, to offer what I found out about making masks to any other people who want to make masks themselves, so that they don’t have to go through the same learning curve that I did. The US sewing community (professionals and home-sewers) have really rallied to all the calls from hospitals, nursing homes, the Surgeon General, and the whole population of the US for fabric masks to help protect individuals (regular folks like me and maybe you) with an effective face covering. We’ve been advised that because of the current shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the “official” N-95 medical masks should be reserved for medical workers and essential personnel on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 virus. The disposable blue masks seem to be available at the present time, but they’re really only for one-time use – not a great option. So what’s the alternative? The best alternative appears to be handmade 100% cotton fabric masks that are washable.
Let me be the first to acknowledge that there are numerous patterns out there on the internet (for free, of course) for these fabric masks. If you go to YouTube and search “fabric masks” you’ll find an amazing amount of helpful advice, videos, and patterns to hand-sew or machine-sew fabric masks. All of this advice and these patterns are probably better than nothing – but there are significant differences in the protective quality and fit of the patterns. I know, since at the start of my mask making journey, I surveyed many articles and videos, and downloaded many of the patterns. After I found what looked like the best pattern, I started producing masks. That’s when I found out that some of the patterns look fine – until a person tried to put it on only to find out that it’s too bulky, too loose, has ties that won’t stay tightly tied, has elastic that’s too tight, or has some other problem that limits its wearability or breathability, adaptability to various face/head sizes proportions, or effectiveness.
Here are some photos of the masks that I’ve made to date – from my initial pleated version (which was the initial home-sewer “design of choice” because of the ease of cutting a rectangle and sewing, but had some fit and bulkiness problems) to the more fitted version that I’m sending out now to my family and friends.
Mask #1 (version 1.0): This initial design was the best of the rectangular pleated designs that debuted on the internet in early March. It looked good and seemed to have the proper attributes. To start with, I preshrunk all of the 100% cotton fabric by washing it in hot water before starting fabrication. I then made about 30 masks to send out for the “something is better than nothing stage” and to request for feedback. On this initial version, my friends and family commented that the fit wasn’t snug enough and the ties were hard to keep tightly tied. They did appreciate the fact that the outside was clearly a different fabric pattern than the inside, which made the “contaminated” side easily discernable from the side worn next to the face. They also liked that there was a way to insert additional filtering layers inside the mask if needed and that I had added a piece of floral wire at the nose (top of the mask) so the mask could fit tighter on the face and not fog the wearer’s glasses.
Mask #2 (version 1.1): This had a much more refined mask. Instead of a pleated rectangle this mask was actually more contoured and placed the pocket for adding an additional filter on the front so that the opening didn’t rub against the wearer’s face. The biggest downside was that the twill ties were still ungainly and didn’t work well for some people based on their head shape.
Mask #3 (version 1.2): This version was essentially the same mask as v1.1, but with elastic instead of twill ties. The feedback that I received on this mask was that the fit was better and the mask stayed on better. Unfortunately, since the elastic was a preset length, some people had problems wearing the masks for long periods of time because the elastic pulled on their ears.
Mask #4 (version 1.3): This version refined v1.2 by contouring the mask even more for a tighter fit and refining the filter pocket to be more streamlined.
Mask #5 (version 2.0): As I refined my mask pattern I continued to innovate and go back to the design space based on the feedback I received from my family and friends. While I was doing this a breakthrough occurred when one of my vendors, Sailrite, sent me an email detailing their mask research efforts and their discovery of what they believed to be the “best mask pattern” (https://www.sailrite.com/how-to-sew-diy-face-mask). I discussed the merits of this new pattern with my interior design and drapery workroom colleagues, as well my 92-year-old mother who had tried out my v1.0 design. In addition to lots of great comments from my colleagues, my mom provided a brilliant suggestion to make a casing (or channel) at the sides of the mask so that the elastic could be inserted through, and tied to the best length by the actual wearer, rather than cutting the elastic to length and hoping that it wasn’t too tight or too loose for the specific wearer. Once adjusted. the knot can then be moved so that it is hidden in the fabric channel. Mom’s so clever, and is the one that taught me to sew when I was 6 years old. Thanks Mom for the great suggestion!
The photos below show my current (and probably final) mask design with a close-up of the internal pocket where you can insert any type of filter (e.g. paper towel, piece of a hepa vacuum bag, piece of air filter, etc.,). This design fits snugly over the mouth and nose, but still allows for good breathability, and has adjustable elastic.
If you’re interested in what the attributes of a medical quality N95 mask are, here’s a good article to read through:
Making An N95 Mask For COVID-19 Coronavirus? What You Need To Know
So that’s it for today. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not selling these masks, just providing them locally to my family and friends as a small effort of community service. Frankly, it has been fun to resurrect my quilt fabric stash and use up all those small bits (for good). Today I just wanted to share what I’ve learned so that others can learn from my trial-and-error process.
I’ll get to that blog post about composing a gallery wall as originally planned in the near future. Until then, stay safe and sane. We have a bright future ahead, I am sure of it, and I wish you all good health. (And wear your mask when you go to the grocery store!).
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.