Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fun and Cheap Wall Art

I've been a woman obsessed lately. We're repainting our house a dramatically different color and it has me doing all kinds of projects to redecorate. I'm nesting with the zeal of a pregnant woman, but good news - no weight gain and (hopefully) no sleepless nights in my future.

Anyway, I came across the Rasterbator several years ago, but was just recently reminded of it by ohdeedeoh. Seriously, stop it. Raster, like pixelated images. If your minds are in the gutter, get them out for now. It's a genius piece of technology that will take any image and rasterize it into any large poster that you can print out on your home computer. You pick the finished size and the rasterbator prints it out in tiles. The image is made up of dots - you choose black, any other single color, or multi-color.

It's been around for awhile, so it's not a ground-breaking idea, but this is the first time I did it, and I love it. I rasterbated a family photo for our basement/playroom that is a wide open expanse of off-white walls. Our basement is great, but not fun to look at, and the stupid back to school commercials have me dreading the end of summer and the beginning of LOOOOONG days spent in the basement.

My main goal was to do this as cheaply as possible, not knowing if I'd love the end result or not. First, I picked one of my favorite recent family pictures - taken by the insanely talented Perlows at Locke Innovations. That's another post for another day, but I submit to you that the rainbow colors of my family and my kids' stubborn refusal to look at a camera make us the hardest family to photograph in North America.

I chose this one because it's a little quirky and shows all five of us, but the emphasis is on the kids. Also, I think it's a kind of cool photo even aside from the kids' expressions, which is good since you definitely lose detail in the rasterbation. It's also important to pick a photo that has high contrast. And, if you're using your home printer, it's good to pick one without a lot of solid black, unless you want to go through 16 cartridges.

Next, decide if you want to print color or black and white. I went with black for a few reasons. First, it's cheaper. Second, the rasterbator prints color by making each dot the average of the colors contained within it. It my picture, that really dulled down the bright colors, and I wanted my picture to be really bright. So, I went with black on brightly colored paper.

When you are in the rasterbator, it lets you decide how big the output will be. It also lets you crop the picture. I cropped to make sure that my picture filled in entire tiles, so I didn't have weird half sheets on one edge. My output was 42 sheets of letter-sized paper.

I initially decided to print my 42 page PDF file at home. Which was stupid, because I went through 2 printer cartridges and still had 30 pages left to print. So, I organized my colored paper into a perfectly random order and took my thumb drive and my colored paper to Kinkos (I refuse to call it FedEx). It cost me all of $1.50 to have it printed in black and white and get the border trimmed off. And, Kinkos never runs out of ink. (Also, if you bring three hyper kids into Kinkos, they'll help you out because they don't want you and the six grabby hands spending a half hour at the self-service table. My kinkos guy never looks happy to see me, but I love him anyway.)

The next step is to lay out your project. Tell your four-year-old it's like a puzzle. He'll love it. (Put your little ones down for a nap before this step or you'll regret it.) I used sticky tack to stick each piece to the wall. I had a lot more luck with sticking the tack to the wall and pressing the paper onto it. We (me and Simon) used a level to sticky tack a yard stick to the wall where we wanted the bottom to be so that we could start off straight. Then Simon used his helicopter to fly each piece over to me while I yelled, "Don't crumple it! Don't crumple it!" and he reminded me not to step on his train tracks. It only took about 25 minutes to hang it all up, and we'll see how long it takes for the stupid sticky tack to fail on me before the tiles fall into a mixed up jumble on the floor.

I have to say that I love the finished product enough to invest in some poster strips... But four strips times 42 pages is a lot... so I'm hoping the sticky-tack pulls through.

And, voila (it took me until I was 30 to realize that voila meant Wha-la. I promise, I'm smart). I might start hanging rasterbations all over my basement.


Stef said...

I love this idea! It looks great! Now all I need is an awesome photographer friend to take some family pictures. :-)

Anonymous said...

You've seriously just turned me into the next great rasterbator. (love that word/term!!)

This idea is simply amazing and awesome and colorful and wild and imaginative and ... just plain cool!

I'll do it too ... and let you know how it turns out in a blog post! Thanks Susie for sharing!!!

btw - that photo you chose of your family? Delicious. Love the three kidlets and you and studmuffin in the background! Very cool!

Dad said...

"Studmuffin"? Did I really read that regarding Benjamin??? I'm stunned!

Abby said...

Love this, it turned out really cool! And that family photo is fab.