Make oversized art cheaply
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
What you need: shower curtain, lining sheet, iron, frame built to size, staple gun, hanging mechanism, patience.
Oversized wall art gets super expensive very quickly, and the space I was trying to fill was huge - my living room ceilings are 3.2 metres high (that's 10 feet 5 inches) and the wall seems to go one for miles as the space was once two rooms (I know, I know, tough situation to be in, but still tricky, tricky).
I vaguely entertained the idea of a gallery wall but quite frankly was exhausted just by the idea of it, and as I'm being a bit experimental in this room, I didn't want to purchase an 'investment' piece yet. I'm experimenting by avoiding the neutrals I usually go for; a result of always thinking like a house-flipper. It started in logic because when we moved in, I hated this dark, cavernous room that still managed to feel oppressing and cave-like, and so I decided it needed to cheer the heck up! So I'm building up layers of bright colours, bright art, lots of plants and embracing that botanic theme (but I have painted the fireplace wall black which is a.mazing). I've even made the curtains out of a floral fabric, yes, floral! Reveal coming soon, I promise.
So, I went looking on Pinterest and discovered shower curtain art, and thought I could really do that, and it would really fit the space as would be giant. Although, I should declare here that I do have a handy husband who is good with building things, and if I had had to make the frame this probably won't have happened, but that doesn't mean you can't! And I'm pleased to say the end result looks really cool and arty, and fills the walls perfectly.
BUT, buyer beware of 2 things before you go ahead with this project:
1) I'm not sure if you want to get into cutting a shower curtain to a smaller size, due to fraying or pulling threads. It might work, but I expect it probably won't. This project is for when you want a HUGE artwork and are willing to work to the size of the shower curtain as is (You could of course apply the same steps using a smaller piece of fabric that isn't a shower curtain).
2) Any image printed onto anything this size will usually be pixelated. It is going to be a rare image that won't be. So if this bothers you, search carefully before buying, or else you will be disappointed. If you look at my piece below, the birds are pixelated but I actually think it adds to the arty look, so I'm happy with it. It's also much less noticeable when hung on the wall.
(My husband standing behind the piece when it's on the floor might help give you some idea of scale; there are *unsubstantiated* claims he is 6 foot tall, after all...)
Hot tip: build the frame with exterior wood, and then you've got yourself an outdoor art installation! Perhaps add a protective clear overcoat spray, and I think this would last years outside - in fact, I might just have a go myself...
It's very budget friendly as the only costs were the wood for the frame, the hanging materials, and the curtain itself which I bought from Society6 (no affiliations). As I'm in New Zealand, the curtain took a few weeks to arrive, but we were in lockdown so I guess it would usually be faster.
So here are the easy steps:
Step 1. Build the frame.
We (he) mitred the corners and then glued, clamped and pinned. As this is going to be a really light frame, he didn't feel the need for bracing, but you can add cross joins or metal bracing as you see fit.
Step 2. Prepare the shower curtain itself.
This is mostly about ironing out the folds. Go carefully, start with a low setting in case of melting, and put a cover fabric over the top. However, I had no problems and had to use a steam setting to iron out the folds.
N.B. You don't need perfection as stretching it around the frame will help too.
Step 3. Attach the lining sheet.
This is mostly to hide the frame from showing through. I just grabbed an old white bed sheet rather than buying anything. If you are going to hang this in a place where the light will hit it, it's probably best to use a thicker fabric. A liner also pads it out, making it look more professional.
This is your practice layer!
a) Remembering to staple onto the back of the frame and not onto the sides as this will show, start by putting one staple onto each section, right in the middle of the length, to stabilise the fabric.
b) Work your way out from the middle staple, gently stretching as you go, adding more staples.
c) It will really help having another pair of hands to stretch and hold the fabric on a piece this size.
d) Leave yourself some space around the corners. Save them for last. Cut away the bulk of the fabric and then fold into an envelope fold, trying to get as flat as possible.
e) Cut away any excess liner around the back.
Step 4. Repeat for the shower curtain layer.
Just remember, stretch gently but don't overstretch as this will pull the fabric and create wrinkles.
Hot tip: Place front-side down onto a sheet on the floor (this stops the front picking up pet hair/fluff etc.) and iron out any persistent wrinkles from the back. Stay away from the frame areas.
Step 5. Attach hanging mechanisms and hang.
And there you have it! I'm so pleased with this, I can't tell you. I'm almost as excited as getting carpet in this room after over a year of old floorboards!
The true beauty of this project is of course the fact that you can so easily change your mind down the track if you get bored of the art itself. Enjoy!