DIY: Wall Tile project

A couple of weeks ago I ran across this really easy and eye-catching DIY wall tile art project on another blog. But, I am completely embarrassed to admit that I forgot to write down where I saw it, as I really wish to attribute this project to the correct source. So, if you’ve recently seen a project like this on another blog and know whose it was, please let me know!

Anyway, this easy set of wall hangings is made from 12″ x 12″x 1″ styrofoam covered with pretty sheets of paper – such as those big decorative pads of scrap booking paper and some black scrap booking paper. Any kind of heavier paper would do, really. Now, I don’t actually scrapbook, but last summer I got motivated to try my hand at decoupage and bought various supplies, including a 12″x12″ block of decorative paper. I played at a few projects and lost interest, and the supplies have been gathering dust in a basket in the corner.

Then I saw this project laid out on a nice blog that I found my way to (again – who ARE you!??) and it seemed so simple. Plus, I think that her example was using the same paper (perhaps it was blue?) that I knew I had. So, I had to give it a try. Typical of me, I didn’t fully read the directions – I got as far as styrofoam and paper, with the black paper used as side borders. Then I figured it out from there. So, what I don’t know is how she recommended finishing the pieces. However, this is how I did it:

I wanted to have a hanger for the back of the project, so I used thin ribbon, which I glued down around the front of the styrofoam, under the decorative paper, wrapping around back and tying it off. (I’d suggest measuring so that they end up being the same length in back – it’ll help when you’re trying to hang these straight!). After I spray glued the papers onto the styrofoam squares, I cut strips of black paper for the edges. I do recommend that you measure carefully and use a paper cutter. This is a do as I say moment, not a do as I do kind of thing. Because, I like to eyeball things – which is why I never get very good a precision projects. I measured 1″ strips and drew lines, but then cut with a pair of scissors (2 sheets at a time for a real precision job – not).
Once I got all the paper glued down and dried, I brushed gold and copper paint on the black paper and around the edges of the paper. I thought it sort of antiqued the whole thing and softened it up a bit. Plus, it covers up some of the mismeasures. Once all that was dry, I applied four coats of glossy Mod Podge sealer. I’m pretty careful-careless with these things, so I didn’t sand between coats. But I felt the sealer really helped hold the whole thing together and make the tiles look much more solid that what they actually are – glue, paper and styrofoam.

To hang them, I chose the top height I wanted to go (actually, I couldn’t find my step stool, so really, I chose the top height I could reach with the hammer which isn’t too high as I’m 5’2″). I used fairly small nails and hammered in the first one. From there, I used my laser level and measured for the two tiles hanging below the first one. Then I eyeballed it anyway and started hammering. This is where all same length cords in the back would have come in handy. I then did the same to hang the next column of tiles. Then I played around with them to get them fairly evenly distributed. Oh, I also added a second nail near the bottom of each tile, so basically, I just pushed the backs onto the nails (it’s only styrofoam afterall) and there they hang! Now, I was going to put a pretty paper on the back as well so they’d look nice and finished, but then I never got around to it. If I were to make these as a gift for someone, however, I’d definitely take that final step.

It’s a really easy, really cheap way of getting an interesting wall hanging that perfectly fits your decor. I think my total cost for the styrofoam, spray glue that works on styrofoam, black paper and ribbon was $20.00. I already had the pretty paper, metallic paints and Mod Podge. The paper can be purchased by the sheet for $1-2 a sheet, so that’s not a huge additional cost.

So again, if you know another blogger who posted about this project, please do let me know!

xoxo Linda

17 thoughts on “DIY: Wall Tile project”

  1. Linda,
    I’m a newbie to your site – very nice, and I loved the ‘how to’ for the tile project. I’m going to try this out on some fly fishing stuff to create a ‘cabin feel’ for a client up on Lake Winni. Thanks.

  2. Hi Alex – welcome, we’re almost neighbors! I love Portsmouth!! I used to live in Newburyport and was up in Portsmouth all the time!

    The tile idea can be used with so many different themes. I was thinking a great subject could be a map, cut into sections. Really, it’s unlimited. If you do the fly fishing theme, send a pic over!

  3. I would wrap the edges of the foam in 1″ ribbon and pin at the top. So much easier than cutting strips of paper!

  4. I didn't post this project- but I wish I had… mostly because there is a HUGE space above my bed just calling out for some of these to be hung on it. Thanks for the inspiration & tute! 🙂

  5. Very nice job! I was wondering how you got the paper to lay down so flat and neat? I’ve tried large-scale decoupage like this in the past, and I’ve gotten very mixed results. Can you give some details on that part of the process?

  6. I love how you work! I do the same thing! I laughed when you said you used the laser level, and then eye-balled it! Measure and then cut two at a time with scissors! Yeah for us! and great project…I’ll have to try it!

  7. Valerie – the ribbon idea is a good one. It would produce a very different look. I’ve never varnished fabric, but I can see how it would work really well. And, probably significantly cleaner than badly cut strips!

    NYTerayn – thanks! If you get it done, send a pic!

    Jocelyn – the paper was fine and flat when I glued it down initially. But, it bubbled significantly once I applied the first coat of Mod Podge. Once it dried enough, I kept pressing it down and pushing the air bubbles out. I tried a rolling pin – but that wasn’t too successful. Eventually as the varnish really dried, the paper calmed down. But, there are still bubbles, which is fine with me.

    Karen – yes, I’m pretty haphazard. I love tools like my laser level and paper cutter – but often as not, I’ll bypass them. This is why I don’t make my living as a crafter!

    I’ll let you all in on a little secret – in the background of the photo is my front hall – with a half finished mural. I won’t even say how long I’ve been working on that!!

  8. hey, i saw this post linked from craftzine. gorgeous selection of papers!! they coordinate beautifully.

    i don’t know who’s blog you saw it on, but this is originally a project listed on craft supply store website. you’ve done a beautiful adaptation of it, i like yours more than theirs!

  9. Hi…
    I am new to your blog and saw it on Craft, such a cool project… for the bubbles maybe try poking the paper with a pin to let the air out, i do this when I decoupage… it seems to help… just something to think about.
    I love this by the way… did i say that???
    I have spaces that are crying out for some color…
    tks again!!
    Jean 🙂

  10. Good idea about the popping the bubbles, Jean, thanks! I wished I’d thought of that…

    Oh, and btw, I received an email from a woman, probably a pr rep for Dow Chemical, makers of Styrofoam®, who pointed me in a direction of a website and booklet they’ve produced on art projects with styrofoam.

  11. I bought some expensive prints and then couldn’t find frames. They are 12 by 12…Cost a fortune to custom frame them…I am going to try this with them. Thanks for tute.

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