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Aug 14

How K8 got her groove Bach

Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 in Arty Farty, Music

Recently I went on a rather anal whinge about home decoration… there really are too many shades of paint to choose from.

Then I had a brain fart, inspired by a coffee shop I used to visit a lot in Blackrock shopping center which was plastered floor to ceiling with old musical manuscripts.


Ok so I probably should have screwed the doors back on before showing it off, but you get the idea.

This is how I did it:

– First I downloaded some free piano sheet music here, and printed it off onto extremely cheap printer paper (the more absorbent the better)

– Then I found a large tray and added two kettles-full of boiling water to about six teabags (including raspberry tea for interesting colour).  The printed manuscripts went into this massive brew to soak overnight; I sprinkled a few teaspoons of instant coffee between layers to add interesting speckling.

– The next morning I heated the oven to its max, and began to dry each sheet individually for about a minute per sheet (this part requires intense babysitting obviously) until I was left with a stack of crispy, slightly burnt paper that looked like it had just been rescued from a 200 year old vault.

– I then mixed some PVA glue with a little water, and plastered it to the surface with a wide paintbrush.  The bonus here is that PVA glue is waterproof, meaning that the finished plastered surface is washable and permanent, provided that an extra coat of PVA is applied to finish the effect.  Happily this doesn’t mean that the surface ends up glossy, but with a pretty nice textured matt effect instead.

While this whole ordeal is slightly labour intensive, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying paint or wallpaper, and a lot less messy than applying same.

Thanks to Chaplin’s (ex) coffee shop for the inspiration, and to Art Attack for glue enlightenment.

Bring on the comments

  1. Darragh says:

    do me a favour…
    will you describe the picture? sounds really cool… When you dried the paper out did it not turn up at the edges?

    so… are the notes etc still readable that were origionally printed or are they now just part of the texture…

  2. tuli says:

    Wonderful! I wonder if there’s anything around my house I could do this to. I really like the effect!


  3. That is an inspired idea!

  4. Brianf says:

    Awesome! How cool is that?

  5. K8 says:

    Darragh; Sure! The finished surface is somewhat mottled, each sheet of paper is a slightly different colour, depending both on how close it lay to a teabag, and how long it was baked for. To this end, you can still read the music perfectly, it looks just like a sheet of paper that has been aged to a sepia colour, slightly darker at the edges thanks to the oven.
    Yes, the paper became so dry in the oven that it was extremely brittle and curled into all sorts of directions. Happily though, once the water/glue combination was brushed on, it became very workable again. There are grooves in the wood which I was able to push the wet paper into without it tearing. When applying the paper to the surface, I overlapped and tore the sheets in places so that you can see the notes and staves, but wouldn’t be able to read it for playing purposes!

    Tuli; I was thinking of trying the same trick with movie posters to cover an old set of wooden drawers to funk it up a bit… PVA glue’s excellent, it goes onto pretty much anything.

    Jenny; Plenty of paper cuts though… rainforest revenge!

    BrianF; Cheers! Off to plaster winning Phillies statistics onto your coffee table are ya? ;-p

  6. GrowUp says:

    Cafe Vienna eh? Their goulash soup rocked.

  7. Granny says:

    I like it, I realy likes it!

  8. K8 says:

    GrowUp; That’s the one!!! They did a wicked red onion salad too. Why do I associate it with Charlie Chaplin? Was he outside holding the menu?

    Granny; Thanks! I’ve some left over to cover the false teeth, too.

  9. Grannymar says:

    Colour coordinated to the blog as well!

    I like it.

  10. That’s brilliant, K8!!! What a grand idea. :)

    Me needs to go plaster somethin’ tah somethin’.

  11. Kirk M says:

    Now that one is pure genius. How you manage beauty and brains all at the same time is beyond me.

    And thank you so much for the heart attack I received by clicking on that blasted “Art Attack” link you provided. I should be walking without assistance in about 6 months they tell me.

    Next time warn a fella that the whole world is going to explode out of his monitor–such things are dangerous when unanticipated you know. ;)

  12. Oh, HEY K8! I am soooo stealing your idea, but with handwritten manuscript pages for my writing space (being a writer, I can’t afford a music space y’know). This is just gorgeous!!

    And I especially love that you got help from Art Attack. Sometimes being a Mummy is just the best LMAO.

  13. K8 says:

    Grannymar; I never noticed! Did the designer soak his HTML in tea I wonder?

    Jefferson; Who needs an excuse to get plastered?

    Kirk M; Yes it’s a… umm… vibrant website, isn’t it? Oops. Apologies to your ticker!

    Susan; Yes kid’s TV has it’s upside! Now if only I can figure out how to de-programme Peppa Pig’s accent?

  14. Holemaster says:

    I might do this to my car.

  15. unstranger says:

    Wow you K8!
    A pub I used to frequent here in limerick (it’s closed down now) had the same thing as a back drop on the small stage where the bands used to play.
    Only difference being they had an artist paint the thing on the wall; well it was really huge.
    Unfortunately no photographs, probably just as well, the fecking tune was “Tie a yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”!!
    Who needs that crap?

  16. K8 says:

    Holemaster; Thousands of xeroxed parking tickets would confuse the hell out of parking wardens. Or you could disguise your car as the Evening Herald and park ANYWHERE. Ooo, tempting.

    Unstranger; Aw I’ve very fond memories of that song from watching ‘The Snapper’ too many times!

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