If you live in California, or anywhere that is likely to be hit by an earthquake, you are very limited in what you can hang over your children’s beds, since you wouldn’t want anything to fall on them when the inevitable “big one” hits. Still, a kids room needs some interesting things on the walls to make it more fun, so I really wanted to put up some kind of wall decal in Alex’s room. I looked around ALOT but couldn’t find any that I really liked. Or if I did like it, it was ridiculously expensive.
Then I stumbled across this post with DIY Decals that Danielle Thompson of Kitschy Digitals did on her boys’ room. I loved the idea that if I couldn’t find a decal I really liked, I could just make my own. So I decided that, with Alex’s transportation theme and awesome map paper airplanes that I got at a craft fair, I would steal Danielle’s idea of overlapping clouds as well.
And that is where my long descent into DIY decal madness began.
Danielle created really fun technicolor cloud decals, but I wanted Alex’s room to be a little more serene (in the hopes of eliciting better and longer nap times). Plus I had already bought these vintage-looking airplane sheets on clearance from Pottery Barn Kids, so I had a blue, gray, olive color scheme going on, not to mention very beige paint.
I brought the pillow case to two fabric stores and selected a few fabrics that weren’t too expensive, would go with the color scheme, and also make for good clouds. I really lucked out with one that had a raindrop pattern on it! I had read online that you don’t want to use heavy fabrics for this project because they don’t stick as well. But some of the (cheaper) fabrics I ended up selecting were so light that they were really difficult to cut. There were many hand cramps and stops and starts with this project.
When I switched to the nicer fabrics with a bit more structure to them, things went a lot faster and soon I had all my clouds cut. I decided to use the same fabrics to make a decal of Alex’s name. I did the clouds more or less freeform, but I wanted the letters to be consistent so I printed some I found online, traced and then cut.
The next step was to make the cornstarch “glue” to hold the decals on the wall. The recipe I got from How About Orange was very easy: Stir 1/4 cup corn starch into 1/2 cup cold water. Then pour in 4 cups of boiling water and mix it up. I even had Alex help with the stirring. As you can see, it made a lot of cornstarch. But then, I had made a lot of clouds.
One day when Alex was at preschool, I got to work. I laid out the clouds on his dresser and just started painting the cornstarch on, one by one.
I was actually really surprised by how well the cornstarch worked. I would “paint” the back of each cloud on the dresser, stick it on the wall, and then paint over the front when I had it in position. One of the nice things about doing decals this way is that if you mess up your placement, you can just move things around. (Unlike many store-bought decals, where you only get one shot to get it on right.) I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but it was nice to have that flexibility. I used his wipes to wipe up any extra cornstarch on the table or the wall.
The whole thing was pretty easy, EXCEPT that I had traced the letters on the fabric with Alex’s magic markers, thinking any leftover ink would be on the backside, and wouldn’t matter. But, very predictably, the ink started to seep through the fabric as soon as I added the cornstarch. I ended up having to redo a few letters, which was just annoying and completely my own fault. But aside from that one issue, the clouds and letters all went up in about two hours.
And I have to say, they came out amazing.
I was so excited for Alex to see his new and improved room when he got home from school. I didn’t say anything to him about it and let him discover it on his own. At first, he absolutely HATED it. I think, “You have until the end of the day, and then these are coming down!” was how he put it. Understandably, I was completely crushed.
But when we started showing him how he could interact with the clouds with his superhero and airplane toys he came around. They’ve been up for about a week and I haven’t heard anything negative from him about it in days. I don’t want to rock the boat, but I was thinking about adding a clothes line where we could hang various air transportation cut outs (biplanes, hot air balloons, etc.) or I may just leave it as is. I really do love how it turned out!