How to Cover Holes in Drywall - in Style!

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About: Find more of what I do on my homepage and on Instagram. But no matter where you go, remember to Be Inspired!

Disclaimer: this is, at the time of writing, not a spouse-approved method for covering holes in drywall. It is much more of a way to incorporate these holes into an art piece that may or may not meet your (or their) idea of taste.

The Situation:

Recently, the screen we used for our projector came down. It was affixed to the ceiling using drywall dowels. Then the kids learned how to operate the mechanism to roll the screen up. But since at that point their arms were still too short to slow it down near the top, the dowels did not stand a chance.

So now there are two holes, and since we had to re-mount the screen, they are now clearly visible. And they are waiting for me to do something about them. They are positively staring at me. And I am going to take my cues from that.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Here is what you need to make this. As you will see, there is a wide array of different ideas possible, and some may require different materials. But this is what I used:

Materials

  • modelling clay - this will be the base material for this project. I use the kind that hardens when you bake it in the oven, but I imagine using air-dry or microwave-cure variants will work as well. If you are using something that comes in a single color only (like the air-dry clays I know), you need to do some painting.
  • wire - used to insert into the ceiling and hold the plug piece in place. Something that you can bend by hand but is more easily bent with pliers works best.
  • paints (very optional, see above) - the clay I use comes in a number of different colors so I do not need to paint anything. If you are using something with only a single color (usually gray), you might need to add some color by painting it.

Tools

  • drill bit - of the same diameter as the wire would be best, but slightly larger can work as well with a little glue. Since hardened modeling clay is not that sturdy, you can use either wood or metal drill bits.
  • drill - to use the drill bit with.
  • thin dowel - this is what I used to shape some of the clay. I actually used the cap of a glue bottle, but a wooden dowel sanded round on one end would work as well. So would a toothpick, actually.
  • glue (optional) - if your hole turns out larger than the wire so you do not get a nice friction fit, a bit of glue can be helpful. Since polymer clay and metal are not the easiest glue fellows, I would go for hot glue to provide at least some friction fit. There will not be heavy loads on it anyway.
  • pliers - to bend the wire. Can be done by hand, but pliers make for a more crisp bent.
  • butter knife - handy for cutting and modeling the clay.
  • hot air gun (optional) - useful but not mandatory to warm up the clay for better malleability.
  • brushes (very optional) - only necessary when you need to paint your thing.

Step 2: Shaping the Clay

I start with the colors I picked and cut off what I think it a reasonable sized chunk. You can always add more or put some back later. For this project, I chose "translucent orange" and "translucent blue". The difference between translucent and not is minimal, but that was the only orange I had on hand.

The next step is to get the clay into a more manageable consistency. That means you have to be able to knead the clay to form the clay. Maybe that is just an issue with the stuff I have because some parts of my "collection" are more than a couple of years old. When I start to bunch them up, they tend to come apart in fine chunks. That is annoying, but not a big deal. Because you can still get them to cooperate in two ways.

One is to just have at it, working them by hand until finally, you have something that you can shape without having it fall apart. The other is to use a hot air gun or a hair drier to warm the material up gently. That will cut down on kneading time to get you to the same result. Just keep in mind to set the hot air gun to low, because they can easily harden the clay and, more likely, get too hot for your fingers.

Step 3: A Sucker for Suckers

I roll the two pieces of orange, one into a long snake that gets thinner towards one end to make a tentacle. The other I leave shorter to have more material near the end to flatten out - you will see why in the next step.

Then I work the blue into a thin roll and cut it into small portions using my trusty butter knife. Those portions I roll into balls, smoosh them flat and place them on what will be a tentacle. To improve adhesion and the overall looks of those suckers, I use a small round shape to push down in the center of each blue disc.

Step 4: Keeping an Eye Out

To make the small eyestalk (a pattern emerges), carefully flare out one end of the shorter orange piece. I said carefully because it is easy to tear the clay, and while it can be put together again with relative ease, that is work you can avoid. Also, If you think your flat round part if large enough, make it just a little larger still. Better too large than too small.

For the actual eyeball, I used glow-in-the-dark clay, but looking back, I should have used something less "special" and add a layer of the glowing stuff on top of that. Be that as it may, I rolled a ball of it and placed it at the center of the flared part, then pulled the orange around it to make for a socket. And since a flat face does not fold well around a sphere, I make sure to put the kinks on the side to give it even more of an eye-like look.

Finally, a little bit of black rolled into a slit of a pupil finishes the eye. Yes, I omitted the iris, but this way, the glowing effect will be more pronounced through more surface alone.

I also add some suckers to the eye just like I did on the tentacle, although admittedly, I did not really follow any pattern, and I will admit that they do not make that much sense on an eyestalk.

Step 5: Shape & Bake

Once the two pieces were done in a general sense, I shaped them to look a little more "wiggly", especially the tentacle. Again, take care not to break it, especially since having the shape done will make it harder to put back together in a natural way.

Once I was satisfied, I put both pieces in a toaster oven and baked them according to the material's specs - 130°C for half an hour. Afterward, I let them cool down while inside the oven, to avoid burning my fingers on the one hand and to give it some extra time on the other.

Step 6: Spiral Out of Control

Attaching these plugs to the drywall can be tricky for several reasons. For starters, putting them in like actual plugs might wear out the drywall even more, cause unwanted dust, and might not give you much flexibility when it comes to placing them - not to mention that the holes left over in my case might or might not be symmetrical.

Also, modeling clay is plenty sturdy, but being dropped from the ceiling is not something I would recommend for it, especially not on a regular basis. Not to mention someone getting annoyed by your art when it hits them in the head.

So instead, I decided to use a piece of wire. Using a drill bit the size of the wire chosen, I drill into the back end of both pieces, as far as I dare without running the risk of coming down the other side. Then I push the wire in. In my case, the bit matched the gauge, and friction was enough to keep both sides together. If there is some discrepancy, a little hot glue might do the trick.

The idea is to bend the wire, first at a right angle, then into kind of a spiral that will then rest on top of the drywall and hold the clay in position. How tight you can wind this spiral is a matter of experimentation, since it depends on the room you have to navigate above your drywall.

Step 7: Putting Them in Place

The basic technique is this - once you have the spiral bent, insert the free end into the hole and gently twist the whole thing in until your sculpted piece "falls into place".

Since you most likely cannot look behind the drywall to see what structures might get in the way, be careful when inserting the wire. Gently pushing it might get you there, but it might also bend it out of shape or get it stuck in something. You might need to widen the spiral, or even tighten it. And especially near the end, pliers might come in handy to push it the rest of the way.

Once you got it seated, you might need to change its height. You can do that by pushing it in further on the wire or lowering it, or by bending it further up or down the wire. Last, turn it carefully to put it in the best possible position for the piece to shine.

Step 8: Other Methods

But wait, there's more! Maybe your hole is not in drywall. Maybe you have an ungainly hole in a brick wall, in concrete, or possibly in wood (although that could be an easy fix).

You can put a screw into your clay piece, and screw it into a dowel, or, depending on the size, directly into the wall. There will not be much load on it (unless someone mistakes it for a coat hanger). But you will still have to make sure that the clay grips the screw properly. The best way to do that is to file the screw head down on two sides.

Alternatively, add a (neodymium) magnet to the base of your piece. Not only will that turn it into a cool fridge magnet, but also allow you to place it on screws inserted into the hole.

Step 9: Other Ideas

Of course, tentacles and eyes are not the only things you can have poke out of holes in the ceiling. There are many other options, but luckily, we do not have that many holes in our ceiling. Here are a couple more ideas - along with some different methods - to inspire you:

  • a plain earthworm, coming out one hole and diving back into the next. Actually connecting two holes using modeling clay is a little tricky, so I would recommend using a plastic pipe or a piece of hose in this case, as long as it fits the holes. In addition to paint, you can try adding patterns and texture either with a knife or a wood burner, but very careful either way.
  • a piece of cable with a twist. These twists include a smaller tentacle sticking out of the widened end of some actual cable, or an eye coming out of it.
  • a claw coming out of it, which would work better for larger holes. A finger, possibly with fake fur glued to it, and a long claw scratching the ceiling.
  • an icicle, best made from pieces of acrylic sheet glued together or carved from a larger chunk (which would make it trickier to keep the glass-like faces expected from ice.
  • a blob of "slime" about to drip down from the ceiling. Probably best made from bright sickly green modeling clay, this probably works best if it looks like the drop is just about to fall.

Have some more ideas? Please share them in the comments!

Step 10: Thank You!

Thank you for checking out my Instructable. I hope you found it helpful, and if you have not already, please check out the video linked above.

I would love to hear what you think, so please leave me a comment or share this 'ible with your friends.

And as always, remember to Be Inspired!

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    2 Discussions

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    Matlek

    6 days ago

    Very creative way to cover these holes. I think I'll try this next time!

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    Mimikry

    6 days ago

    pretty cool idea :)
    I'll keep that in mind - if some unexpected holes come in my way...