Recently I was hired to design an entry wall at Leslie Salon, a hair salon in Cincinnati, Ohio. Leslie Holtmeier had been searching for a unique treatment for the curved wall entrance. I chose a technique that gives character and design flexibility while keeping costs to a minimum. Years ago I would have immediately turned to stenciling, but I have found that stamping is a more freeing and expressive way to pattern a wall. The inconsistency of application gives a more hand-crafted feel, and the individual stamps can be turned and rearranged for a more freeform pattern. For this motif, I designed a more structured pattern as a base and then stamped a more fluid vine-like pattern over the base structure. What really added to the look was a metallic paint product. By using 2 different colored metallic paints I was able to convey a more modern and elegant quality to the overall design. When the light shines on the wall, the design shimmers. This is a very simple technique that anyone can do and it is not supposed to look perfect! Here’s how…
Cut Out Your Stamps
My favorite go-to material are those foam craft sheets because they are so easy to cut (like butter) and they make the perfect stamp! You can choose to freeform cut, or you can print out a pattern to size from your computer, spray a light mist of spray glue to the back of your pattern, stick on your foam craft sheet and using an exacto knife (no. 11 blades) cut out each piece of your stamp. Note: You can also use the negative leftover pieces as stamps too!
Glue Stamps to a Foam Core Backing
The most important thing to remember about this step is that a stamp should be BACKWARDS from what you want it to be on the wall. So, if your are stamping numbers or letters, remember to glue your stamp on the foam core so that it reads backwards. Using a standard white glue (I prefer Tacky Glue), put a light bead of glue all over the foam cut out piece and lightly press to the foam core back (be sure to wipe away any glue that squeezes out). Let glue dry fully and then trim down the foam core close to the stamp so that you can see some of the edges of the foam when it is positioned against the wall. This helps when you are trying to position the stamp on the wall next to an already stamped element. You can also cut the backing board with a consistent distance edge so if you are stamping a border along the ceiling, you just have to push the edge of the stamp against the ceiling and it should all match up. It helps to think this out before you cut down your stamp backing.
S T E P 3 :
Painting and Stamping
Now is the moment of truth! I always do a test stamp on a painted piece of cardboard just to get the feel of it. The key to painting stamps is a light touch. I use really cheap foam brushes and just barely touch the end of the brush into the paint. You do not want a lot of paint on the stamp because it will ooze and spread if too heavy. Like crepes, the first one is never that great because the stamp needs a little base of paint on it. I put a few strips of masking tape on the top of the stamp to help hold it in place while I am tamping it. So, lightly paint your stamp, position your stamp, press the tape and start tamping lightly with the side of your fist all around the back of the stamp. Note: After awhile, it helps to take a wet paper towel and clean some of the paint buildup. This keeps your impressions crisp.
S T E P 4 :
Second Color Overlay Stamp
I wanted this design to have a structured base and a more vine-like pattern to contrast the structured pattern. This is when I really like stamping because I only had to make 4 different vine stamps and by simply rotating them and combining them differently, I achieved a very freeform pattern. I made different leaves and buds randomly placing them on the vines to create a very natural look. This second color was again a metallic, but it was a darker bronze color.
Special Note: Part of this wall had a curve to it, so after I was finished with the straight part, I simply made vertical cuts (not all the way through!) to the back of the foam core base (approximately every 1 inch or so). That way the stamp was able to flex around the curve.
T H E R E S U L T S :
My favorite part of the finished wall is the way the light hits the metallic paint. It has a beautiful patina and the freeform vine pattern recedes in some areas and jumps out in others. The overall motif fits the salon personality well. It was fun stamping the wall during her business hours because her clients were really intrigued with the whole process. I received a very nice followup note from my client Leslie Hotmeier who said, “You know that saying, ‘if I had a dime for every time I heard that’ ? Well, it’s fitting in this case because I have had SO many compliments on the beautiful wall design you did here at the salon.” That is the nicest way to complete a job!
M A T E R I A L S L I S T :
Craft Foam Sheets, 1/4 inch Foam Core Board, Rustoleum Metallic Accents Paint (Champagne and Bronze Medal), Foam Brushes,
I want to give special thanks to Gina Weathersby Photography for beautifully documenting this story for me. I am in awe of her mastery of visual storytelling and her friendship means more than I can say. I also want to thank Leslie Holtmeier for having the confidence in me to put the image of her Salon in my hands.