Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to: Create badass faux wallpaper using magazine covers . . . or anything else you want.

And now for a post that has nothing to do with Vessel! Don't worry--Exodus will still be here before you know it....

It should surprise no one who has known me for more than five seconds that I love Lady Gaga. Like, a lot. Like, enough to have this tattoo forever. Like, enough to camp out and pee in bushes for three days in 19 degree weather among strangers in a town known for its extraordinarily high rape and murder rate. Wearing THIS:


. . . all to get HERE:
Front fucking row, motherfuckers!!!

. . . and HERE:


But did you know that I also am in possession of THE WORLD'S MOST EXCELLENT LADY GAGA BATHROOM? You didn't?

Here. I will show it to you. Please don't use the nice towels.

But the crowning glory of this bathroom has to be its epic wallpaper of black and white Lady Gaga magazine covers:


It's gorgeous, shiny, and it will come right down in one piece whenever I move out of my apartment. So how did I do it? Well, I've never done a how-to post like this before, so forgive my lack of foresight in not taking "before" photos. Or really any helpful photos of the process itself. But I'll try to explain as best I can---in Ten Exhausting Steps!

What you'll need: 
photo-editing software
magic tape
hammer and small nails
self-laminating sheets  (sheets, not pouches! get a box of like 50, available at any office supply store)

Step 1: Pick what you want to use as a wallpaper, of course. New Yorker covers? Liner notes? Horse posters? Whatever the hell you want. Let's just say you want to use Chanel ads. If you have a big stack of magazines laying around (does anyone still do that?), estimate about how many you'll need and start cutting out the ads. If you don't, search for images you like using Google Image. I needed upwards of 50, so I found about 25 I liked and used doubles of each. Look for the largest versions of the images you can find (500 pixels wide or more; that info will be listed in plain view if you're using Google Image). Save them all to a folder.

Step 2: Manipulate. Note: this is why it's best to get the largest images you can find. If you try this stuff with some little 4x3" photo you find online and then blow it up like this, it'll look fuzzy as hell. If you're only increasing the size a little bit, it won't really matter---not for this project. Okay, so: Using Photoshop or some peon equivalent, increase the dpi of the images to 300 (using the Image Size settings) and change the height to 10.5 inches (be sure your "Constrain Proportions" setting is on so that the width will proportionally change as well). Now each image will print nicely on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. If you want to go with a color scheme like I did, now's the time to make those changes to each image as well. Save ALL your images as pdfs and then combine them all into one big pdf file. Email it to yourself or stick it on a zip drive, and then . . .

Step 3: Get thee to a print shop. This is too big a job for your HP 3-in-1, trust me. Crack open that pdf at any self-serve printer station and then print it out. Any shitty grade of xerox paper will do; no need to get fancy.

Step 4: Turn on the first episode of Battlestar Galactica and start neatly cutting off all the white trim off your prints.

Gonna be at this awhile.

Step 5: Collage time! Using some of that poster putty you have left over from your college dorm years, compose your prints on the wall as you like them. Pro Tip: Don't even try to align every corner and edge. You don't want some boring grid-thing to occur, and your prints won't all have the same width anyway. Just start in the center of the wall with one print and move outward. Go collage-crazy if you want, rotating and overlapping all willy-nilly---or do neat rows with alternating starting points like I did (think of the way bricks are arranged to make a wall). When you reach weird corners and crannies, just hold the print up in the position you want and crease it where it needs to be cut. Cut it to the right shape along the creases and, if it fits, stick it in place. Don't worry about sticking them on super firmly. The easier it is to pull them OFF the wall, the easier Step 7 will be.  

Left: Cutting to fit weird nooks and corners.  Right: See how the images don't form a perfect grid?

Step 6: Using Magic Tape or some other invisible, easy-to-remove tape, secure ALL the prints together along corners and seams. You don't have to secure every inch of every seam---just make sure every sheet of paper is adequately secured to its adjacent sheets in some way. You're basically turning your wall collage into one giant, abnormally shaped sheet of paper. Or one giant sheet for each section of the wall, if you're doing more than one wall.

Step 7: Take it all down! Gently, gently, gently. Start at the top and drape it over a stepladder or something as you go. Once your giant wall puzzle is disconnected from the wall, lay it on the floor image-down and gently remove the wall putty. Leave the Magic Tape.

Ignore the duct tape. I shouldn't have used it.

Step 8: Flip the entire thing image-up. Turn Battlestar back on, because this part can take awhile, too. Here's where the self-laminating sheets come in (sheets, not pouches!). These things are basically giant, clear stickers. They will not only keep your wallpaper nice and flat, they'll also add this really slick, seamless gloss to everything, like some kind of wall installation at a hip recording studio or something. The idea is to cover the image-side of your entire wallpaper with this stuff, sheet by overlapping sheet. Be careful! Once you lay one down, it can be tough to pull it off without damaging the image. They also will have creases unless you lay them FLAT, so lay carefully. Try holding each sheet by the middle of its shortest ends, letting it bow downward slightly. Let the center hit the paper, then just let the rest drop. If it lays flatly enough, press it down, HARD, outward from the center, rubbing out any bubbles and creases. Take a credit card and drag one edge over the whole thing, reeaaallly rubbing it on good. Repeat with more sheets until your entire chunk of wallpaper is covered. And don't worry: you don't have to be precise and match up the edges of these laminate sheets. Overlaps and edges won't show once they're stuck in place. And you can simply fold them over at the edges of the wallpaper and stick them to the back, cutting away where necessary.

Laminated and ready to hang!

Step 9: Almost done! Now all you need to do is grab your hammer and nails and hang your giant, misshapen, laminated poster. Climb up and give it a try; let it hang from your hands to see that everything is going to fit okay. Then nail the whole thing to your wall, starting with a top corner. Depending on the size of the area you'll be covering, you won't need many nails. Just one at the each corner, and along the edges wherever the wallpaper looks like it needs to be flattened or reinforced. Very small nails work just fine; good thumbtacks would probably do the trick as well. Heck, wall putty should even work if you're not allowed to leave holes in your walls---you'll just need to apply it as necessary to the back of the wallpaper before hanging it.


Check this wall cause I'm marvelous.

And there you go! You have a slick, seamless, totally hip wallpaper that adds texture and pizazz to your apartment---with absolutely no damage to your walls! You can take it down in two minutes and nothing will be left but a few nails holes and a sad, blank wall. And it's totally portable! Cut it to fit a wall at your next place, or add to it, OR just snip it into a big rectangle to create one large, laminated collage poster. Amazing.

But don't even try to make a better Lady Gaga-themed bathroom than Tominda's Bath Haus of Gaga. Because it is the best and always will be. Coming soon: an automated disco ball with music! (I'm not kidding).



  1. Just came across your tutorial and (although I am not a Gaga fan, sorry) I love how you did this. My hubby and I talked about wallpapering our bathroom in old band fliers but didn't know where to even get started. Thank you!!

  2. I love this but I will need someone to take my cat or else it will be a cat hair collage

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