Posts Tagged ‘dip it in water’

Spoonflower Swimmers on Art Wall

February 18, 2023
This couple in a nicely updated 1939 home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston has a blank wall in the back of their large walk-in closet.  They have a lot of colorful , modern art and wanted a backdrop for it that would be fun, but wouldn’t compete .
One of the gals is an administrator for the athletic department in a local school district – so this small print “ Swimmers “ design is just perfect.  In fact, the day I hung this, she was away at a swim meet in Austin ! 
Note that Spoonflower offers scores of designs under the “ Swimmers “ name, so be sure to check all of them, and all the colorways they come in, too. 
Detail
Spoonflower is a little different from most wallpaper companies, in that it’s material comes in individual panels, or sheets – which they call rolls .  Each of these is 24” wide, and then you choose the length you want, between 3’, 6’, 9’, and 12’.  Each roll comes nicely packaged in an individual thick plastic zip-lock bag . 
These ones are upside down, so I had to re-roll them so the pattern would be coming off the top of the roll . 
Here are some tips about hanging Spoonflower. 
First of all, I like their “ Pre-Pasted Smooth Removable “ option.  And it’s the only one I’ll work with.  Their “ Traditional Pebble “ is a heavy vinyl that requires special trimming , bubbles, and is better suited for commercial spaces.  And, the Peel & Stick – well, everyone ought to forget  that sad stuff.  Please read my link to the right about that material. 
In this photo, you can see that the white material is thin and translucent , allowing things underneath to show through, sort of like a shadow .  So I need to be careful to make my pencil marks and notes on the wall very lightly. 
Side note: Never write on the wall or paper with ink or marker or crayon or grease pencil – it will bleed through the wallpaper .
This is a pre-pasted material , meaning that a thin layer of paste is already applied to the back.  To activate the paste , all you need to do is dip it in water , run it through a water tray , or spritz the back with a squirt bottle (uneven and kills your wrist) .  Their paste is quite adequate.  But I do like to have a little extra assurance, so I will roll on a little of my Roman 780 wallpaper paste onto the back. 
Then I take a sponge and drip clean water from a bucket onto the back of the paper .  Next I use a paint roller to spread the mixture of water and paste around the back .  This both activates the pre-paste, and also spreads around a little extra adhesive . 
Next, the paper gets folded pasted-side-to-pasted-side ( called booking ), then rolled or folded loosely.  I like to dip the ends of the rolled strip into a bucket of water – just 1/8” or so, to prevent them from drying out while booking.  Then the strip is placed in a plastic trash bag to prevent it from drying out during the booking period – a few minutes.  I use this time to paste and book my next strip . 
Spoonflower Pre-Pasted Smooth is a little different from most papers, because it’s designed to be overlapped at the seams.  Here I am lining up a seam.  This overlap does show as a ½” wide ridge along the entire length of each strip.  With busy patterns, it’s not very visible. 
Even with sparse designs like this one, once it’s dry and flat, you don’t notice.  Here’s the overlapped seam looking toward the light, which is leaving a very minor shadow.  And the overlap can be a good thing.  For starters, most wallpapers shrink a little when the paste dries, so you can end up with slight gaps at the seams.  Overlapping eliminates that.  Also, if a wall is unstable underneath, due to incompatible layers of paint , or dusty walls, or other, the tension of these drying strips of paper can cause the layers inside the wall to come apart / delaminate – and that will result in paper that comes away from the wall, taking layers of paint and etc. along with them.  This usually cannot be repaired or “ glued back down .”     (Do a Search here to learn more)  So overlapping the seams disperses the tension caused by the drying paper, and eliminates any seam from landing on the wall (because the sheets are overlapped ), so no popped seams .
Here is the seam looking away from the light.
Because Spoonflower Smooth Pre Pasted is thin paper and water-activated , it absorbs a lot of moisture from the water.  So the material can’t help but expand .  This can result in bubbles on the wall.  Also, when air pockets develop, there is nowhere for the air to escape, so, again, bubbles and blisters. 
If there are huge bubbles, it may be worth taking a brush or plastic smoother and chasing them out.  Or using a pin or razor blade to poke tiny holes to let the air out. 
But, really, if you can just relax and let nature take its course, as the paper dries, these bubbles will dry flat and disappear.  Trust me. 
Another thing that can happen is wrinkles .  These tend to form in the same place on every strip , and coordinate with how the paper was booked and rolled after pasting . 
The worst of these can be chased out with a plastic smoother.  But there are dangers to over-using the smoother tools.  Doing so can stretch the wallpaper and cause it to warp, which means the pattern might not match up perfectly on the next strip.  Or it might cause wrinkles that can’t be brushed out.  Again – if you can just sit tight and let the paper dry naturally, the creases and folds will disappear. 
I did some experimenting and found that booking and then rolling the strip up like a newspaper resulted in more wrinkles.
It worked better to paste, book, and then fold gently and loosely. 
Then into the plastic bag to sit for a few minutes .
Spoonflower PrePasted Removeable Smooth .  I like this stuff. 
Removeable means that it’s designed to strip off the wall easily and with no/minimal damage to your wall when you redecorate down the road. 
I suspect this is made by York , as it’s very similar to their SureStrip line .  Good stuff. 
The order comes with a mock-up of the strips / rolls you’ve purchased.
Install instructions
Promo info from Spoonflower .