Happy October!

In honor of Halloween being on the horizon, I am very excited to share with you how to create your own Rorschach-inspired inkblot prints. These are surprisingly easy to make but the finished product is really amazing. These have a gothic, Halloween feeling to them, but also feel glamorous, mysterious, and like something from the old world. They can easily translate into everyday décor, and that is just what they will be doing in my living room!

In the October 2011 issue of Country Living magazine, there was a feature on Halloween décor with a “gothic glamour” look that included some really cool prints from Vagabond Vintage, available at the time through Mothology.com. They were Rorschach inspired inkblot images printed onto old ledger paper.

Inkblots from Mothology.com

My husband and I both majored in psychology in college, and he is currently in a graduate program to become a licensed therapist, so the Rorschach reference immediately attracted both of us.

The price, however, did not attract us. The prints were listed at $174 each. They were pretty cool, but I was not willing to shell out that much cash for a piece of wall décor.

So, I started planning how I could make my own version of these Rorschach-inspired inkblot prints. I could have used any paper, really, but I really liked the Mothology version, printed on old farm ledger paper.

I was able to find an old farm ledger for sale on eBay pretty easily, and had it in my possession within a week or so. I paid $10.50 plus shipping for it. The one I got includes handwritten farm records from the 1930’s on several pages, a glimpse into the past of what this family paid for groceries, and what they earned from the sale of eggs and livestock. It’s big – the pages are 10″x 15.5″ – I took this photo with a ruler on top of the book so you could get a better idea of its size.

(If you want to recreate this look and you don’t have ledger paper, you could download an image of ledger paper from The Graphics Fairy like the one below, or you could use another type of old paper, or even scrapbook paper.)

Ledger paper from The Graphics Fairy

The fun part of the project was making the inkblot prints. My oldest daughter and I did this together. I carefully removed several pages from the farm ledger. I tried tearing them out without damaging them but found that it worked best to trim them out carefully with an exacto knife. Then, I folded them in half lengthwise, and unfolded them. I folded them first so that after applying the “ink” (black paint), it would be easier to make an even fold and press the two halves together without getting paint everywhere.

I used regular black latex wall paint, since I had some on hand, but you could also use black craft paint or I suppose you could use black ink as well.

After making the initial folds and unfolding the pages, we simply splattered a little black paint around on the paper by dipping a paintbrush into the paint and splashing the paint onto the page. Then we pressed the two sides together thoroughly and opened the pages back up to reveal our inkblots.

This was a lot of fun, and my daughter especially liked telling me what she saw in the inkblots. (I did my best not to psychoanalyze her interpretations.)

I used some trial and error to get the look I wanted, and found that watering the paint down just a little made it easier to splatter onto the pages. I kept trying to get a more “swirly” look like the prints in the magazine, but I wasn’t sure how to achieve this. I found that it worked really well to put the paint into a sandwich size ziplock bag and cut off a tiny piece of the corner and actually make more curvy swirls with the paint onto the page.

I tried several versions on regular printer paper just to test the look without using up all of my ledger pages. You can see the difference in what type of inkblots you get with the splattering vs. swirling techniques here:

I ended up with about ten different inkblots on ledger paper, so I had several to choose from and enlisted my husband to help pick our two favorites. Then it was on to the framing.

The ledger pages are 10″ x 15.5″ so I needed a 16×20 frame. I scoured a few thrift stores but I couldn’t find any frames the right size that looked decent, so I purchased new frames at Hobby Lobby. The frames were 50% off, so I was able to get two 16×20 simple wooden frames for $24.99.

To create a similar look to the frames in the magazine, I removed the cardboard backer and glass from the frames and painted them with black latex paint. After applying two coats and letting them dry, I mixed some silver craft paint with a little metallic glaze (about half and half) and used a sponge brush to lightly streak the black frame with the silvery gray mixture. Then I quickly wiped the excess silver mixture off with a dry paper towel. I love the way the frames turned out!

I wanted the prints to be mounted onto a black background, so I purchased a large sheet of black matboard from Hobby Lobby. They sell these in large sheets (32”x40”) for around $7-10, depending on what color and weight you choose. I got a black sheet for $7.99 and used a 40% off coupon, so I spent $4.79 on the matboard. To mount the prints, I needed to trim the matboard down to size. I used the cardboard backer insert that came inside the frame as a guide, and simply laid it over the matboard and carefully trimmed around it with an exacto knife. I did this on my wood floor, so I was very careful and put a healing mat underneath while making the cuts.

I centered the prints onto the mat and double-checked this by measuring to make sure I had equal distances on the top/bottom and right/left side. I always think I can “eyeball” things and they tend to end up crooked, so I forced myself to measure and get it right! I mounted with a little double-sided tape in each corner, and put everything into the frame. (Glass first, mounted print second, then cardboard backer.

I also bought some sawtooth hangers; a six-pack is $1.47 at Hobby Lobby. The frames I purchased came with sawtooth hangers, but they were the style that you have to use two tiny nails to attach to your artwork, and they are much more difficult to use. The style I bought have the pointed ends that you can drive directly into your frame, much simpler and more foolproof to use.

I attached the sawtooth hanger to the back of the frame by measuring the total width and finding the center, then holding the hanger carefully and driving the pointed edges of the hanger into the frame with a hammer.

The final product looks like this.

I am so pleased with how these turned out! The total cost for the two prints was about $42. (Frames- $25, hooks $1.50, ledger book $11, matboard – $5) Compared to the retail price of $348, I created a very similar look for $306 less!

Have fun creating some inkblots! I would love to hear about it if you make some!