How to Make a Marimekko-Inspired Wallpaper Transfer

I have been pining over Harri Koskinen's Frekvenssi wallpaper for Marimekko (pictured below) since I saw it ages ago in a magazine.  I decided that I must use the wallcovering in my new place.  Since I am currently renting, I thought of purchasing a bolt and framing it.  Then, I thought of the cost and quickly changed my mind.  I was determined to find a low cost way to use the wallcovering. 

Marimekko inspired wallpaper

I looked at the sample realizing that the pattern is a series of lines which are drawn sketchy.  I thought, hmm maybe I can draw the pattern directly on my wall.  I thought, what if I create a template and transfer the image on the wall.  Then simply draw the lines on a portion of the wall creating an accent panel.  Aha!  I had found my solution and weeks later I was thrilled with the results.  How did I do it?

1.  Choose carefully.  Select a wallpaper for inspiration with a simple linework based pattern.

2.  Things you need. 

  • Adobe InPhotoshop, Illustrator, AutoCAD and/or other comparable design software
  • Access to large scale printer
  • Sharpie or Similar Paint Markers
  • Painters Tape
  • Scraper or trowel or ruler

3.  Determine the repeat (both vertically and horizontally).  The repeat is typically the height of the wallcovering pattern which is repeated vertically on the wall.  While I knew from the specs that the strip is 27" wide, I needed to locate this point based on images from.  Fortunately the match is straight across which means each strip is layed directly next to each other on the wall.  Ultimately, I figured out both the veritcal and horizontal repeat in order to create my accent panel.

4.  Create the linework for the image.  Using AutoCAD and an image of the wallcovering, I traced the pattern, omitting a few lines - so I didn't go crazy drawing too many lines on the wall.  I also scaled the graphic up 50% which also reduces the amount of drawing.  Note that if you are not savvy with AutoCAD, you can use a variety of software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

created at: 08/08/2010

5.  Plan out the template (s). Using AutoCAD, I could easily dimension the pattern to fit my wall.   For example, the overall dimensions for my panel are 8'-7" high (including the base) x 62" wide.  I chose 62" for the overall width based on doubling the width of my strip which was 31".  Then I determined how many sheets I would need to form one 31" w strip. I converted the panel drawing to PDF format and imported it into Adobe Photoshop to create the panels.  My printer/plotter could only print 22" x 34" max, so I basically divided the panel into 5 sections for printing.  I also added an overlap at the top and bottom of 2" to ensure that each matched up.

6.  Print out the sections of the template.  Considering that I would be transferring the ink from the sheets onto the wall, I decided to print out two strips, which meant printing the 5 sections twice.   Make sure that you label the sheets and clearly note the direction of the pattern on the back.  It was a smart decision to print two templates as I ended up ripping the paper while scrapping to transfer the ink.

7.  Assemble the template.  I taped the sections together on the back side of the sheet.   

created at: 08/08/2010

8.  Apply template to wall.  Using a level, I made sure that the pattern was straight. I used painters tape to tape the templates to the wall (with the printed side against the wall)

9.  Scrape / rub the ink onto the wall.  Use a scraper or a flat edged trowel and scrape up and down by section.  Peel away the tape to make sure that you are covering the areas.  When I was done, I removed the template from the wall.

created at: 08/08/2010

10. Draw the linework on the wall.  Using a Sharpie paint pen, draw the linework carefully on the wall in sections.  My experience drafting came in handy here, free hand drawing the lines.  Tip:  Buy several sharpies - I used 3 different ones and could have used at least 6.  The issue is the point gets dull pretty fast.

Done!  The templating took about 5 hours including printing.  Transfering and drawing the linework, which I completed on the same day, took my about 5 hours as well total.  While my hand hurt a little when I was done, the effort was worth it.  And the total cost, $20!  Check out my blog for more images of my D.C. studio which is a work in progress, by clicking here.

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Meagan on Apr 25, 2016:

Love Marimekko. Would be great to repeat this but transfer to fabric rather than directly on the wall...attach it to a dowel and hang it like a tapestry so you can move it! I'd hate to do all of that meticulous work on a wall and then have to move and leave it behind!

Anonymous on Nov 14, 2015:

Taking a jpeg file to have it printed on a canvas sounds much simpler.

Kibwe Daisy on Feb 25, 2015:

A projector wouldn't work for this kind of meticulous pattern but certainly would for a simpler pattern.

Fred on Jan 15, 2015:

Hey dummy, just use a projector.

Juli on Feb 10, 2012:

Great source of Marimekko fabric scraps

jen on Aug 14, 2010:

I also recommend testing with your printed pieces, but in an art class, we would place the printing against what we wanted to transfer to (in this case the wall) and then rub the back of the paper with a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover. The ink would release from the paper and transfer almost perfectly with very little effort. I believe this worked with both inkjet and laser copies.

Joanna K on Aug 14, 2010:

Very clever.  I think this would make a great graphic and inexpensive headboard.

Ben on Aug 11, 2010:

You can also find the Frekvenssi design as wallpaper at many Marimekko dealers.

kibwedaisy on Aug 10, 2010:

Thanks guys - Jill, yes, it was inkjet ink.  You can't simply rub on the wall, you have to use  the edge of a scraper or even a stainless steel ruler, apply pressure, and rub up and down...It took me a couple tries but the right combination of pressure and vigous rubbing will transfer the ink lightly on the wall (works best with a white or off white wall).  You will see light gray lines where the ink has transfered.

jill on Aug 10, 2010:

very cool and clever!!...but i don't see how you got the ink to transfer to the wall so easily...i just tried rubbing a printed paper against a wall and nothing came off. what's the trick to getting the ink to transfer?

jill on Aug 10, 2010:

very cool and clever!! ...but i don't see how the ink would just come off and onto the wall so easily...is this just using inkjet  inks? i just tried rubbing printed paper against my wall an dnothing transferred...?

elseajane on Aug 09, 2010:

Wow! this is awsome! Very detailed and intrecate. I whish that I had the cad experence, but I could see something like this working in many different ways. Thanks Kewbe, I can't wait to see what else you have in store for us.

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