Mr. Peacock loves to collage! One uneventful weekend last year, I collaged the entryway ceiling in our apartment using black and white xerox copies. It’s a cheap and fun way to add some drama to a drab foyer! You could do a larger ceiling, but it would take more time, so I recommend starting with a small area first. If you rent or like to change things around—like myself, they’re relatively easy to remove. Just dampen the artwork with a wet towel and slide a blade or scraper under a corner and “peel them off.” Here’s how I created my decoupaged ceiling. (You can click on the image below to see the detail a bit better)
1. Pick your pattern
First you want to decide your theme or subject matter. I called mine—The Birds and the Bees, even though I didn’t include any bees. I used birds, flowers, butterflies, and beetles. An object, or animal, or something that you can silhouette (cut out) works better than say a photo of “a wheat field.” Although you could simply cut interesting shapes from an image like “a wheat field” and make more of an abstract pattern with shapes. You could also use clip art from a Dover book. The possibilities are really endless. My ceiling is painted white, but you could also paint the ceiling a color and decoupage the black and white images over it.
2. Find the images
I wanted to do something nature oriented, ie...The Birds and the Bees. So I selected some books on birds, flowers and bugs. I bookmarked pages I liked with a post-it.
Then I went to the copy store and enlarged the images on a black and white Xerox machine. I used 11" x 17" size paper. You’ll have to play around a bit, adjusting the size and contrast to your liking. Don't worry if the copies look too gray or the dot pattern looks too prominent, you won't notice that after the next step. You could also scan images you like and play with them in Photoshop and then print them out at home.
Then I carefully cut out the images from the Xeroxed pages and piled them into groups, ie birds, flowers, leaves, and bugs. I used two different pairs of scissors and an exacto knife (see photo below). Your first trimmed image might be a bit sloppy, but don’t worry, once it’s up on the ceiling, nobody will notice. And besides, you’ll become an expert at cutting these images after the first few are done. (I even like the cut out images against the wood floor in the photo above)
5. Clean your surface
I cleaned and wiped the ceiling with a mixture of hot water and TSP, and let it dry thoroughly. Don’t skip this step! It is important your surface is clean and dry, otherwise your beautiful collaged images will curl on the edges and not adhere to the ceiling.
Then I got on my step ladder and just intuitively started gluing the cut out shapes to the ceiling, creating a organic “pattern” as I went. If you want it to be more structured, you could lay the pieces out on the floor before you start gluing. I used oversize glue-sticks and tried to cover most of the back surface of each piece, and gently rubbed it smooth when I pressed it to the ceiling. Be careful when you smooth the image, it can tear.
Actually I brushed on more of a light “wash” than a full on decoupage. I thinned some Elmer’s glue to a watery, but still sticky consistency. You want it thin enough to brush on and just lightly coat the surface and around the edges of each image. Normally when you decoupage, you would want a thicker consistency like Mod Podge, which you could also use (but thin out with some water). The glue "wash" will dry fairly quickly.
I think my ceiling is quite fetching. My photograph really doesn't do it justice and the light fixture is a bit distracting to see the final product in its full beauty. People ooh and ahh when they step into our home for the first time and notice the glorious "birds and bees" on the ceiling. It also adds some depth to the ceiling and makes the space feel taller. If you decide to decoupage your ceiling, send me a photo, I’d love to see what ideas you come up with!