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thereby hangs  
tale how to make a giant fabric photo wall hanging
by Jen Hinst-White
1 2 3

Giant babies. Giant handcuffed nurses. Giant rock gods, hot dogs and polliwogs…and countless giant reproductions of pinups and M.C. Eschers.

For inexpensive and striking wall art, it's tough to beat the Rasterbator: a free web tool that allows you to take an image, rasterize it into a mass of dots (think newspaper photos), and blow it up to huge proportions, conveniently chopped up into 8.5x11" sections for easy printing. Reassembled on the wall, even the most benign tabby cat snapshot starts to seem hip and arresting. (The thousands of images in the Rasterbation Gallery are a testament to what can be done with this ingenious tool. Look out for that handcuffed nurse.)

The perfect circles and uniform rectangles of Rasterbated images automatically have a bit of a mod flavor, something I admire in other people's spaces, but don't really feel at home in. My husband is all about clean lines and modern shapes, whereas my taste might be described as Comfy Curiosity-Shop: dark colors, soft edges, tattered books and quirky knick-knacks. A collection of lanterns hangs from our living room ceiling. Pillows and candles abound.

Happily, we found a mutually satisfying way to Rasterbate. Rather than affixing paper to the wall, we bought some muslin and iron-on transfer paper, and created a softer effect with a giant-size wall hanging.

finding an image
The Rasterbator offers great decorating possibilities for photographers--but a photographer I am not. What I am is a web designer and frequent user of an inexpensive stock photo site where you can buy the rights to use the work of amateur and pro photos for about fifty cents to $1.50 per image. For our wall hanging, we chose a photograph of archways in an English cloister.

Whatever image you choose, you're eventually going to be printing it on iron-on transfers, so it will end up reversed. In the case of our cloister it didn't really matter, but if your image includes text or you like its composition exactly the way it is, be sure to make a mirror image of it before you Rasterbate it. (The "Flip Horizontal" tool in Photoshop does this in a jiffy.)

Ready to Rasterbate? Measure the dimensions of your wall space before you begin. The Rasterbator is marvelously easy to use, and allows you to adjust both the paper size (A4 and A3 as well as US letter and legal) and the size of the overall image. As you size the image, it calculates how many pieces of paper you'll be using, so you can adjust it to fit your space. It also lets you crop the image to the proper dimensions so you don't end up with half-sheets on the edges. Your image will be exported as a pdf.

sidle on this way folks!

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