Entomology Tapestry DIY

 Picture via Restoration Hardware.

Who loves Restoration Hardware? I do! Simple, clean, and classy. 
I'm so happy to be able to share this DIY with you. If you're anything like me, you pour over RH's website and catalog and turn green with envy over all the neat stuff that you can't afford to have. I don't know about you, but when I look at something and balk over the price while at the same time thinking "I can do that!", I see a challenge. This might seem really long, but I hope it is thorough enough for you to be able to make one yourself.

Let's make those pretty Bug tapestries that we can't afford! But let's do it for a fraction of the price. What do you say? 

So, there are a few ways you can go about making these cool tapestries. RH's are printed on canvas.  I've made a few of these, and the first one I made was on canvas using permanant fabric marker pens. 
It turned out pretty, but I thought I could do better. The whole process of using the markers was a little awkward, and I didn't like how it turned out in the end with the canvas hanging crooked. I measured my piece of canvas several times and it still turned out a little crooked looking. It's still hanging in my bedroom because I still love it, but I prefer the drawing/painting on bristol board method that I used the second time around. And this method looks closer to what the RH tapestry looks like.
Ultimately, you could find a pretty picture of a bug illustration and print it on a thicker, stiffer, piece of paper and thus bypass the painting process. However, if you can trace and color in lines I'm pretty confident that you can do this!

What you need for this project:

A picture of a bug to work from
Bristol board
A fine point permanent marker
A pencil and eraser
Water color or acrylic paints and brushes
5/8 inch dowel
Wood stain
Staple gun
Workable fixative
Jute string, or other natural looking thin rope

First, choose your bug. I then very loosely copied the bug onto my bristol board using a permanent marker. If you'd like you can use a pencil first and then go over it in pen when you have it the way you want it.

If you aren't artistically gifted, one option is to use a light box and trace over your bug. Put as much or as little detail as you like. This is your art work, for you. Make it unique. Don't worry about perfection. Mine's not!

Once you have it all traced you can go back over your work and erase any pencil or other marks that may appear on your paper from your hands rubbing over your work. Kneaded erasers are wonderful for this. They can erase a lot of things that most erasers can't.  If you look at the following photo you can see where my nail polish left marks on the paper. I left those there.

 I think that the scuff marks add a little charm! Vintage prints often have water stains, scuffs from age and use, and I thought it added a little bit of me to my work. You can also see from that picture that my drawing wasn't perfect. I used my pen and thickened up the lines to cover some of my mistakes, for example, where my lines were not straight along the back of the wings. And remember, you still have to paint the bug, so the paint will cover up a lot of the imperfections as well. 

When you are painting, remember that you can water down your water colors or acrylics and paint in layers. Start out with light colors and add layers to make the shades you want. Water colors are very forgiving. You can do many layers of color to get the tones you want, and you can also fill your brush with water to thin colors out and lighten the tones. 
Unfortunately I didn't think to take pictures as I painted. 
(Maybe that calls for a video at some point!)
 My finished bug, next to my inspiration bug. Close enough! I liked this picture also because it had no text, but it did have a measurement. I can write out a few numbers! 
I then let my painting dry for a while before I did a wash over the paper to age it. 
For the wash, I loaded my paint brush with some very watered down burnt umber and brush it gently along the edges of the paper pulling it inwards towards my beetle. Let it puddle a little in spots, and keep the watery paint very heavy along the side edges where a paper would show most wear.
Once it is completely dry, give it a thorough spray with your workable fixative. This will help prevent the paints from running should an accident happen at any time in the future. (Knowing my kids they'd go running through the house with spray guns during the summer and ruin it. Don't want that to happen!) When the fixative has dried, you can put it between some muslin and gently iron it flat on a medium heat. Be very careful, and only do it for about 30 seconds. Let the painting cool pressed between heavy books.

Next we're going to prepare the wooden dowels for the "frame" pieces. 
 Line the edge of your dowel up across the bottom of your painting and mark where you need to make a cut. Make two marks since you will need two cuts.
 I used my trusty hack saw. I'm sure there are better, cleaner, and more efficient ways of making these cuts, but I don't have a wood shop so I used what I have. 

Use a sanding block to smooth the edges!
 Next you are going to stain the dowels with your stain.

This is the stain I used, in Aged Oak.
Stand your dowels on end to brush the stain on. Let them dry, and then stain the ends. Let them dry completely other wise they will be very sticky and perhaps leave unwanted marks on your painting. Avoid an accident, let them dry completely!
For the final steps, this is what you need. 

You need:
  • your painting
  • your dowels
  • staple gun, fully loaded
  • piece of rope at the length you would like it to hang, mine is about 8 inches long 
Turn your painting over, and balance it face down with one dowel at each end. Carefully staple the edge of your painting along the dowel in three spots-- the middle, and once on each end.

Gently hammer the staples in all the way.

Knot both ends of your jute rope. With your painting still laying face down, measure two inches in from the end of the dowels and staple each end of the rope to the back of the dowl. Make sure that you are stapling the jute to the top back of your painting.
And that's it! You're done. 

Take a picture! 
If you try this out, I'd love to hear from you how it turned out so please come back and leave me a comment or link to your own blog. If you have questions or something seems unclear let me know and I'll do my best to explain! 

Wishing you a great weekend,


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this at the Say G'day Saturday linky party. I've just shared thsi on Pinterest and will be featuring it at this week's party. I love it!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  2. This is such an amazing post! I really love it. Very creative and I am all about DIY. I found you at Say G'day Saturday Linky Party :) Krista @ A Handful of Everything

  3. I think yours is much nicer than the store bought one. Your colors are beautiful. Thanks for a great tutorial.

  4. I just love this! I have to say, I don't think I could paint as well as you and would have to print it. You did a fine job! I have an RH catalog and sit and dream many days!

    Found you at the Say G'Day party! Now following you!

    Cynthia at http://FeedingBig.com

    1. Oh me, too! <-- sit and dream while I glance through it.

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