Gloria’s nursery décor ran a few months behind schedule. When she caught us by surprise a few weeks early, the room simply had a dresser, a cabinet, and the crib that we had assembled a mere three days prior to her birth. While we had been planning to use the subsequent month to build out the safari theme we had envisioned for the nursery, we were instead thrown into the rigors of new parenting. The only sign of our intentions was a giraffe coat hook on the wall, left here by the previous owners.
By mid-August we had the basics of parenting under enough control to start planning on how to give the giraffe hook some company. We first acquired a quilt to hang on the wall. Of course, once we finally got around to unpacking the quilt we realized that it can’t “just go on the wall” (oops, I blame new parent sleep-deprivation). So our next task was to figure out how to unobtrusively hang the quilt.
Neither of us come from a quilting family, but the trusty interwebs came to the rescue. After considering various options, we ordered a Quilters Hangup to use as a sleeve. We also purchased a Hang it Dang it to use as a quilting rod; we were suckers for the branding, and the neodymium magnet worked exactly as advertised!
A few weeks later we commenced what was to become our most involved nursery project. Since we didn’t trust ourselves to paint an attractive wall mural, we ordered a set of large vinyl decals from Etsy. The scene included a six foot tall yellow giraffe in savanna grass, a brown monkey hanging from a tree, and a set of orange birds.
The decals arrived in a large tube, and the adhesion process was more involved than I expected. For some reason I had pictured a single decal each for the monkey in the tree and the giraffe. I now know that each piece of contiguous color is a separate decal, which meant one really big yellow decal for the giraffe background, another 49 smaller brown decals for his spots, two white decals to complete the eyes, and a few more for the feet, tail, ears, and nose. All told, we had six sheets of decals in different shapes and sizes to arrange on our wall.
Included in the tube of decals was a set of instructions that described how to apply the decals. There are three layers on each decal sheet: transfer tape, the decal itself, and backing paper. The goal is to remove the backing paper, rub the remaining two layers onto the wall, and finally remove the top transfer tape layer. To get your feet wet, the artist enclosed a free “practice decal.” My first attempt was slightly misaligned, but if you don’t press too hard on the decal initially, you can peel it off and readjust.
For larger decals, the instructions highly recommended using a “hinge” technique. In addition to a textual description, a YouTube link was provided for further viewing. First you tape up the decal, and then make a hinge at the decal’s midpoint.
Then you untape half of the decal and remove the associated backing paper, cutting the backing paper at the hinge. The decal will naturally fall into place (since you have the other half taped up correctly). Rub the decal in place, and then repeat for the remaining half.
Finally, pull off the transfer tape. Often the transfer tape will pull the decal along with it, in which case you need to pause and re-rub the decal onto the wall.
Once we completed this process for the base color, we needed to add the other layers. For some of the pieces, there were vinyl numbers to align, for others we had to wing it. Our guide had a helpful tip to spray the back of the decal with water to loosen the glue so that it would slide over the base layer. Turns out you need to use a lot of water for it to really “slide”, though any water makes it easier to pull off the decal and try again.
We were really pleased with the final product. Even though we didn’t design the decals, the amount of time and effort that we spent applying them caused us feel like we made them ourselves.
To finish the room, we followed up our positive Etsy experience with a mobile order from another Etsy vendor. A grandma from Texas put lots of love and hand stitching into the animals, and diaper changes have never been more fun for our munchkin.