Wall-Sized Paint-By-Number

Sometime around last March or April, I got a crazy idea to paint a giant paint-by-number image on one of the walls of our bedroom. We’d been talking about how that wall was so blank and really needed something. Then we’d been at a friend’s sister’s house and liked the giant vinyl self-adhesive trees that she had on her wall, so I started browsing the internet for something similar and stumbled onto a couple of blog posts where people had done giant paint-by-numbers (see here, here, here, and here). I quickly became obsessed with this idea.

In all my browsing, the best place to find images was at The Paint By Number Museum, but you can also search for paint by numbers on places like Ebay and Etsy, though the images may not be as clear. I quickly realized that if I had to distort or crop the image to fit on the wall, it usually ruined the aesthetics of the image. So, I measured my wall and then looked for images that were similar proportions. I settled on this image:


I debated several options for getting the image on the wall, including using an overhead projector (remember those?) and projecting the image onto the wall directly from my computer. In the end, I couldn’t figure out how to get the image enlarged to wall size with one of those methods. Nor could I figure out how to do it a piece at a time while making sure it was enlarged to exactly wall size. So I opted to go old school.


I got out the tracing paper from one of my art classes, converted the image slightly to make sure it was the same proportions as my wall, and then traced it using a light box (you can do this on a window as well). Then I created a grid on another sheet of tracing paper marked off so that every box would be a square foot on my wall, except for the bottom and right edges. I then overlaid this onto my tracing. I did this on separate page so I wouldn’t get confused about which lines were grid versus the drawing.


Then I needed to transfer it to the wall. I marked off the ends of the grid lines along the four sides of my wall. Then I used black thread and taped it at the ends to create the grid lines. This way I could remove the grid lines after the drawing was transferred and I wouldn’t get confused about what the drawing areas were.


I then drew the traced image freehand onto the wall by consulting my tracing. I recommend a really hard pencil, because it will leave thin, light lines. Again, I had a nice 2H pencil and kneaded eraser hanging around from an art class.


It was basically impossible to get a picture of the wall with the image drawn on it. It just didn’t show up. But here’s a close up of a little section:


Now it was time to sort out how many colors the picture had and what colors I would need. I started by scanning my tracing and printing a copy on white paper. I then sat down with a big set of colored pencils and started coloring in all the different colors, one color at a time, making sure I got every section. I didn’t aim to to be accurate in the colors I was using — I was more interested in being able to tell them apart later. Here’s the end result with what turned out to be 17 colors.


I thought it would be too hard to work off this dense image, and I didn’t want to label the sections on the wall with the numbers. I was afraid that not all the colors would cover the numbers well. So, I divided the colors up onto six separate print-outs of the tracing to make them easier to see.


Time to choose paints! Based on my calculations, one of these 7.5 ounce test-size containers would give me more than enough total paint. The question remained whether for the colors with more surface area if I would have enough. Turns out I did! I got the eggshell, which has a nice bit of sheen, but not too much.


Choosing paint colors was kind of tedious. I went to the Home Depot and picked up a few (ahem) paint chips.


I compared these to the print out of the image that I had, and picked colors. Here are my final picks.


And here’s the full set of paints!


Some of the info I had seen indicated that people used sponge brushes to put the paint on the walls. I tried this, and it really was awful. It could be because our walls are kind of textured. But whatever the reason, I went with brushes.


I used the two that are second and third from the left for a while until I pretty much destroyed them (those bristles are totally splayed out!). These are all cheap brushes, again from some general purpose set of brushes from some art class. Nothing special. After I killed those, I moved on to the two next to them. Occasionally I needed to paint large sections and I swished the next to last brush. In one tiny section I used the little brush on the right, but I tried not to be that picky about it most of the time.

I used disposable plastic cups for the paint and paper plates for putting my brushes on.



In the end I put two coats of paint on everything, and three coats on the two yellowish greens at the bottom of the second column in the photo above. They covered really poorly.


I estimate that the painting along took me about 60 hours, plus all the hours I spent figuring out the best way to approach each step of the project.


I found the painting very meditating to do — a total surprise to me, since knitting and sewing usually involve lots of cursing.

And here’s the final result!


And just for fun, I created this animation of all the photos I took along the way.


Laar at Last

Laar Lace Sweater

Hello everyone!

I have not yet completely disappeared from the planet. As you can see, I have still been knitting, albeit slowly.

The new job has been very busy and fun, but I have still managed, after 6 long months, to finish the Laar sweater! It involved doing a lot of techniques that were either completely new to me or that I had only done maybe once before. And yet it still turned out wearable with no obvious flaws. It’s a success!!

Laar Lace Sweater

Laar Lace Sweater

Laar Lace Sweater

Laar Lace Sweater

Ravelry project page.

The Way Things Go

Hello, my friends. It has been a while.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around much these days. It seems the new job is keeping me pretty busy. I just have not had the time or the energy for the blog, and, truth be told, I go for weeks without even remembering that it exists. I’m a little sad about this, but realize that it’s just the way things are going to be.

I was at a birthday party for a couple of 6-year old today and was asked how the new job was going. When I complained that I just don’t feel like I have very much time to do anything any more, I got a couple of blank stares and some silence. Then someone said, “You’re talking to people with kids.” Right, no sympathy from that crowd. But it’s a huge change for me (both having a full-time job again and having to have that job be somewhere else than my home office) and I’m working on having some patience with it all and letting more things go than I would have in the past.

And one of those things is obviously the blog. I do hope to post here on occasion in the future — like when I finally finish that sweater.

But I wanted to let you know that I won’t be around much, at least for a while. Until I can figure out how to juggle more things at one time. I hope to still see you here on occasion, and I’ll be lurking around your blogs as well, commenting while I’m on the train home from work.

Until then, here are a few more views of Stanford’s campus, usually taken on my morning or afternoon walk through campus to my office. Passing on a little of our Northern California blue skies to you!

Verb For Keeping Warm & A New Project

I recently took a trip over to Berkeley on a lovely Sunday to talk to some folks about a new project (more on that below). After our meeting, I stopped by A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland.

They have lots of really beautiful yarn here. I do not desire a yarn stash, but, even so, I have yarn for at least 3 or 4 specific projects waiting for me at home, so I wasn’t looking to buy. Just fondling the goods.

They also have yarn they dye themselves with natural dyes that is super yummy. I had seen this before at stitches.

This location is relatively new for them. When they moved here they added fabric to their offerings! And they have some super cute stuff, even if it’s a fairly small collection.

Now about my new project! I had a couple contact me about making a queen-sized quilt for them to use as part of the commitment ceremony they are planning for next July. Their story really touched me and when I met them they seemed like such sweet people that I agreed to do this project for them. And I only agreed because it’s a year off, and we are going to try to get started fairly soon. Otherwise I don’t think I would have had time to do this with the new job and all.

Lots of the details are yet to be worked out, but they do know that they are going to get fabric contributions from all of their friends and family to include in the quilt. They seem super organized, so I think it will be a fun experience. And I think it will be a good way to keep me sewing! I’ll keep you posted on the project as it progresses!

Library Views

The library where I work is an Earth Sciences library. One thing we have that I think is super fun is a ton of globes!!

We also have an awesome mineral collection, but it’s in double-sided glass cases in the foyer and is super hard to get pictures of. Plus, I’m not sure I’m allowed to take photos of them and post them anyhow. Things are a little particular about the minerals collection, which technically I think is only on loan from someone.

And here’s the view from the mezzanine level where all the map cases are. I am almost never up there, but went up to snag a few photos. This one is looking out through the front of the building down the Lomita Mall, which runs along the west side of the Main Quad.

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