Thursday, March 31, 2011

Burlap = Awesome

I wanted texture on my wall, but grass cloth or even cork was not in the budget. So, I thought, why not burlap?
I have no math skills. I should never have been allowed to figure out the area of my wall. ;) I was wrong by about a half yard of fabric, so I had to get more. (Actually, it wasn't all math, the burlap sizes, which I didn't account for. I'll just keep telling myself that. Ha.ha.) The total cost of the burlap was $35. I used 2 gallons of liquid starch which cost $12, 2 packs of thumb tacks for $4, and one can of Krylon Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint, $4 (and I only used a little, so I can use the rest on something else.) My wall cost a grand total of $55. Not bad.

So let's get going with a full on tutorial. I give you tips and the good, bad and ugly as we go. 

First, you need your cast of characters:
I found thumb tacks in gold or silver. I did not want either color so I used one of my favorite Krylon colors, Oil Rubbed Bronze, but you can leave them plain if you want. I needed something to hold them while I sprayed and happened to have an empty tissue box. So, I just pushed them into the box

and then spray painted them.

I decided ahead of time that I was going to fill the wall with various sized rectangles. I wanted the extra texture that the frayed edges meeting up would create. If I was doing this again, I would consider two different possibilities: 1. I would use only small rectangles of the same size, perhaps 8.5 x 11, and I would position them almost like bricks. This size would have been super simple to handle and I would have liked the regularity; or 2. I would have purposely overlapped the edges. I don't mind the peaks of wall color that happen on the edges, but where I did happen to overlap a bit, I kind of like better.

The lady at Jo-Ann's taught me a little trick for cutting burlap. Measure or otherwise decide where you want to cut, and snip one of the threads.

Grab the thread and pull; it will bunch like you are shirring, but then (if you are lucky because they often snap)the thread will pull completely out leaving you with a gap. Now you can easily see where to cut and keep things straight.

To make the panels adhere to the wall, I used liquid starch. Matt found a plastic planter and used plumber's putty to plug the drain holes. We couldn't find one the the wallpaper trays, but that would work too. Pour the starch in the tray you are using.

For large pieces, the easiest is to feed one edge into the liquid and begin rolling it up so you feed all the burlap through. You do want it saturated, but it's hard to get rid of the excess, so you want it to soak as little as possible. DO NOT WRING IT OUT! This will lead to wrinkles that you will never get rid of, trust me. If you have rolled it, or even folded the burlap, you can use your hands to gently squeegee as much excess starch as possible.

Open the burlap and smooth onto your wall just using your hands. The starch will completely adhere the burlap (or any fabric) to the wall once dry. If your piece is big, it may be a little heavy and you might want an extra pair of hands.

Once I had the piece smoothed on the wall, I put a push pin in each corner. Sometimes I had to use a hammer. Watch your fingers! Ouch. 

I used the pins for two reasons. 1. I liked the look of it; I wanted that extra detail, and 2. the pins help hold the heavy pieces in place while drying.

I just worked my way across the wall making sure to vary my sizes and edge placement. This took me several days (over the course of a month and a half). I just couldn't do it all at once. Partly because of time constraints and partly because after awhile the starch would just make me start feeling itchy and I would just have to stop and go shower.

The color of your wall will affect the appearance. The weave of burlap is lose, so even if you overlap edges you'll still have a hint of your wall color. 

I'm loving it. It's different. I won't be leaving it all blank though. I'm on the hunt for old bike and trike wheels to create some art to fill all that space. 

And if someday I don't want the burlap or I go to sell the house and want to make things more neutral, the pieces pull right off with no damage to the wall. Other than needing to clean the wall. I promise I tested that too. :)


  1. I love it too - you can't tell from the pics very well, but the tacks help to bring an extra element to the wall too. Fun, fun!

  2. I know what you mean, the tacks definitely have a bigger impact in person. I did debate about buying upholstery nails, for the detail to be bolder, but those are more expensive. I like it the way it is, but I wish everyone else could get the effect better than the pictures show.

    Did you like how I really cleaned up before shooting pictures? Yeah, I was so excited, I didn't even notice the messiness! lol

  3. It is so nice that I have found your blog about your link on DIY Projects. So I have a little scrolled and I like what I've seen. Now I’m your new follower!;)

    Take care

  4. Very creative and the texture it creates. I can see something like this in a Ballard's catalog room. You go, girl!

  5. Poppin over from Tatertots and Jello! Cool idea!
    Have a Happy Easter! =o)


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