how to hang a {gallery wall}

Update:  I’ve installed the new Linky Follower Tool in my right sidebar.  As a site I have never been able to have Google Friend Connect, which is rumored to be going away entirely.  It would be great if you wanted to sign up to follow along using that tool.  If you’re a blogger, let me know you did and I will, of course, follow you back.  :)

Wow, what a week we’ve had.  Over 320 links at our very first Imagine the Impossibilities link party.  Are you kidding?!?!  That is just awesomeness people.  Thank You!! to all who have participated.

If you haven’t joined the fun, the party is open until midnight tonight…in some time zone. ;)  (Hopefully you’re laughing Linda!)  Click here to get linked up…or to just check out all of the inspiration.

And, if you haven’t signed up for a chance to win the $50 Lowe’s Gift Card what’s the matter with you? ;) Click here to get your entries in.

Now, fair warning as you read on.

This is really about the minutia of hanging my one screw gallery wall.  If you want pretty, reveal type pictures please click here.  If you want to know how to pull something like this off yourself, please read on, but be sure to get your cup of coffee first, and maybe a scone or two.  :)

First, I created 9 of the items hanging as part of the wall from scratch so that would obviously be step 1 – Decide what items you want to include in your gallery wall.

Once you have your selections compiled, play around with different layouts.  I used the floor instead of going through the trouble of making paper templates and taping them to the wall because I’m lazy efficient.  Here is one option I tried.
I had found the pole in our little scrap pile and it just so happened to be about the same length as our sofa.  It was when I came across the pole that I got the idea to somehow hang that from my one little screw and then hang a gallery wall from the pole.  If I had to buy a pole I would probably get a 1×2 or 2×2 depending on the weight of the items I was going to hang.

When I was doing my floor layouts I used the pole to dictate the width (about 88″) and then I measured down from my screw in the wall to where I wanted the gallery wall to stop above the sofa and came up with about 40″.

It’s hard to see in the picture but I actually taped the floor with masking tape … can you see it below the B?  So when I was playing around with layouts I could just line up the bottom items with the tape, the pole was obviously going to be the top and the width of the pole dictated the sides.

Once I settled on a layout … in the process I actually decided to cut the pole down to about 80″ … I then turned everything upside down and laid it all out as it would look like from the wall’s eyes, so to speak.

This pic is before I cut the pole to size.

For all of my measurements I settled between 2 and 3 inches.  The items in the top row hang about 2 inches below the pole.  The items in each column are about 3 inches below the item above them and the columns are separated by about 2 1/2 inches at their widest points.

From this point it took about 6 hours, and a little final touching up to complete.

My plan was to hang the 5 top row items from the pole and then hang item from item down each column with fishing line.  And the column with the driftwood shelf would just have one item hanging from the pole and then the twine hanging the driftwood shelf tied around the pole separately.

I did realize as I started making my loops of fishing line that I didn’t exactly have a plan B … or any other, not thought out, might have a chance of working, this is my last resort idea ideas at all.

Pretty Please Let This Work became my mantra for the afternoon.

The early afternoon went something like this.

1 – Screw eye hooks into the bottom of the driftwood shelf and add small nails to the back of the 10″ x 13″ frame.  Measure so the frame would hang about one inch below the shelf and attach with wire.  This step didn’t need to be precise because I would have an opportunity to adjust the height of these items when I strung the twine that hangs the shelf around the pole at the top.  My logic behind hanging this part last had been that I was just going to line up the bottom of the frame hanging from the driftwood shelf with the bottoms of the items on either side of it…that proved to be easier said than done.

TIP!!!  If I had known at this stage how difficult hanging this shelf would be I would have tied the twine hanging the shelf around the pole FIRST instead of last. 

2 – Measure the width of the five pieces along the top of the gallery wall.

3 – Mark the half way measurement of those five pieces on the pole.

4 – Mark the center point on items that would also have items hanging from them.

OK, so this pic is of the back of the wooden mirror and the framed coral that hang in the far right column of the gallery wall.  By mark the center point, I mean the center measurement of the item that will be hanging.  So, since I wanted the framed coral to hang with the right side of it lined up with the right side of the mirror, I lined them up that way upside down on the floor and then marked what would be the center of the framed coral piece on the mirror’s frame.  Make sense?

5 – Drill pilot holes in the back of the pole where I wanted screws to hang my rows of items for the gallery wall.  Refer to steps 2 and 3 for a reminder on how I knew where to drill these holes.

6 – Add screws to the pilot holes.

7 – Add hanging hardware to the bottom of any pieces that would have items hanging from them.

I won’t go into detail for every single piece, but since the items in each column are hanging from the item above it I had to add additional “hardware” to the bottom of most pieces.  The pieces that DIDN’T need more hardware:

  • I used one of the staples that happened to be right in the middle of the bottom on the back of the top dog silhouette.
  • The round metal heating grate hanging in the column with the driftwood shelf doesn’t have anything hanging from it.
  • The black ribbon hanging the faux zinc B is just duct taped to the back of the framed HOME stencils.
As for how I determined where to put this hardware on the bottom part of the back side of each item please refer to step 4.

8 – Measure 5 million times and tie the fishing line loops that hold everything together.

This step took some patience.  It was just a process of measuring and placing my items where I wanted them, cutting a longer length of fishing line than I would need, pulling it tight – without pulling my items closer together – and when I would accidentally pull the items closer together, replacing them, then remeasuring and starting over – and then sextuple knotting the fishing line.  (Apparently, sextuple isn’t a word, but just double knot times 3…at least.)

Phew…you still with me?  ;)

How about a pic of some of the finished wall for good measure?

Ok, at this point I had all of my individual items, hardware to hang each item from, and a loop of fishing line on each item to hang from said hardware.  You can see in picture 8 above how the fishing line loops, once tied, are permanently attached as part of one item and then can be looped onto the screw or hanging hardware I’d attached to the bottom back side of the item that would be above it.  Clear?

Now, just to get it all up on the wall…

That part went kind of like this.

Oh, these pics remind me to tell you that I used clothes line wire to hang the pole, the one item actually hanging from the screw.
From left to right above:
Left – The clothes line before, and if you look close you can see a screw in the pole.  I just measured 18 inches in from each end of my pole, drilled holes, added screws and looped my wire around them for hanging.  The same kind of ‘twist the wire around itself’ strategy I used with the Pallet Word Art.
Middle – I removed the green plastic covering from the clothes line to expose the wire using an electrical wire cutter.
Right – A slightly better picture of the wire cutter.  You just pick what diameter will cut through the material you want (the green covering in this case) without cutting through the wire you want to keep.  You can see from the middle picture I used the second to largest opening, I decided on that by trial and error.  And, you can see in the picture on the right that I took the green off in sections up to about 3 inches long.

If I had known that I was just going to cover it all up with the canvas pic of Curacao I ended propping along the top, I might have skipped this step, but I was thinking I wouldn’t mind the look of the exposed wire.  I was wrong.  :/

So, now my pole has a clothes line and all of the pictures have fishing line loops…we’re talkin’ high class decor here people.  ;)

Now for the hanging.  I would hang one pic at each end of my pole, then slowly and gradually work my way toward the middle.

It was like an 8 foot long teeter totter with glass items hanging precariously from each end.

When strung tight enough, fishing line has a tendency to feel like a knife that is about to take off the tip of your finger as you are holding the whole pole contraption somewhat level with your left hand and using your right to reach up behind an item to find the hanging hardware and get the fishing line loop looped around it.

But, I am happy to report that no finger tips were lost, and no fish were spooked in the making of this wall.  :)  And, none of those fancy knots were used either.

And nothing broke!  Phew!

All things actually went relatively well until pic number 4 (3 collages above).  It was at this point that I needed to tie my twine and driftwood shelf from my teeter totter.

I don’t know what part of “Oh, yeah, I’ll hang a driftwood shelf from my one screw gallery wall, and prop a really big picture on it.  Oh, and then I’ll hang another frame below the shelf and prop an awkward piece of coral in it.” seemed like a good idea.  It was the bane of my existence on hanging day.  And, as I’ve mentioned, I still don’t think it’s quite right. I think the left side is slightly lower than the right side.  I wouldn’t know for sure because I can’t find my stinkin’ level, but it looks that way to me.  And after about a half a dozen tries at untying that one side, then quickly adjusting my teeter totter so the whole thing wouldn’t come crashing down, then eyeballing level from right. on. top. of it, then retying and realizing I had made no progress I decided I was fine with it just the way it was.  ;)

Thankfully the hubs has agreed to give an extra set of hands to the effort when I get up the gumption to tackle the teeter totter again.

It might be awhile.  :)

The canvas pic of downtown Willemstad, Curacao was a last minute add to cover the wire that became exposed when all was hung.  It is just set precariously totally secure on the pole.

What may be my 2 all time favorite pieces of driftwood were next day adds after I had many hours of staring and smiling … but feeling like something just wasn’t quite right (other than the left side of the driftwood shelf being a smidge low).
See what I mean?

The aqua and white piece of driftwood is actually the only piece that is not somehow hanging from the one screw.  As a last minute add, I just used some of that orange tacky stuff and stuck it right to the wall.

There is one other spot I used that orange tacky stuff.
Once I hung the black canvas from the wedding memento it weighed down the left side of the wedding memento.  See, I wanted the outer edge of the gallery wall to be rectangular in shape.  So the left side of all of the items on the left needed to be lined up on the left. Get it?  :)  In order to do that I couldn’t hang the black canvas from the center of the wedding memento, thus the need for just a pinch of orange tacky stuff.

Does anyone know what that stuff is really called?

Here’s what it looked like before the orange stuff.  And I have since tucked in the ends of the twine hanging the driftwood shelf.  :)

And here is the final, glorious result of my afternoon of stress fun.
Can you hear that music and signing or is it just me?  ;)

And, because today is all about the details, here is the items and cost breakdown:

  1. Canvas reproduction of the skyline of downtown Willemstad, Curacao.  Gift from friends last year.  FREE
  2. Wooden pole from scrap pile hung with left over clothes line we had on hand.  FREE
  3. Wedding photo, you may have previously seen here.  For this project I call it FREE since we had it on hand.  If I remember correctly I got the frame at an auction 5+ years ago and had the picture printed at Walmart for I don’t know how much right after our first wedding.
  4. Wedding memento, you may have seen started here.  Tutorial for the finished product to come. FREE
  5. Black canvas, started as a Goodwill find looking like this. Tutorial of the finished product to come…as soon as it’s finished.  :)  $2.oo
  6. Antique metal grate, from an old farmhouse in my hometown now owned by my family, given to me by my mom.  FREE and by far the heaviest individual item on the wall.
  7. Frame and mat bought from Goodwill.  Picture of the girls edited for free on Picnik and printed at home.  $2.00
  8. Driftwood.  FREE
  9. Driftwood shelf hung with twine I had on hand.  FREE
  10. Old frame my mom gave me.  FREE
  11. Coral twiggy thingy.  FREE
  12. A canvas found at Goodwill and originally looked like this.   Tutorial for the silhouettes to come. $2.00
  13. See description for #12.  $2.00
  14. Driftwood hung with orange sticky tack stuff I had on hand…and think I’ve had since high school.  :)  FREE
  15. Photo taken, developed and matted by my man probably 10 years ago…so that’s on hand, right?!  Frame my mom gave me.  FREE
  16. Frame from Goodwill and stencils my mom gave me.  That last minute trip to Maine in January is my proud sponsor of this here gallery wall.  ;)  $2.00
  17. Faux Zinc Letter B hung by a ribbon that originally came from my awesome in-laws…wrapped around our iPad.  That’s right…I did say awesome in-laws.  :)  FREE
  18. Antique mirror, from you guessed, my mother.  Thanks Mom!!  FREE
  19. Frame from my mama and coral.  FREE
  20. I had a few people ask me about my driftwood tree.  If you’re new around here you may not have seen my posts about it here, here and here.

So, if you add that all up my cost of materials is $10.00  And the only other item I bought for the project was the fishing line.  I got it at Target for about $5.00 and have about 95% of it left over.  I didn’t know exactly which one to get, but I honestly did pick this one because it said “low visibility” and it had been tested up to 6 pounds which I knew would be enough to hold my columns of items.

Maybe I should send the fishing line company a picture of my wall to tell them that they in fact are right, that stuff is low visibility.  ;)

As for the paint, it is all a mixture of what I had on hand.  I bought a quart of black a couple of years ago when a home improvement store was closing for renovation…and some other oops paints I’ve picked up and used for different walls in the rental…when mixed together create some nice shades of gray and yellow.

Aaaand … I think that’s it.  :)  If there is any little detail that I have missed or anything you still need to know to make this happen for yourself please just let me know.

If I had it to do again, I would probably go with a 2 screw gallery wall.  Follow every single step, except screw the actual pole into the wall with one screw at each end of it. In order to do this, and maintain the same process, you would need to keep the pole away from the wall about a 1/4″ or so, in order to be able to use the screws in the back of the pole to hang each column.  We might try this on our “Take 2 – when we get that fricken’ driftwood shelf level darn it” attempt.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the mean time, hopefully these deets are helpful.  If you want to try this and need any additional info, or just some words of encouragement (it really is doable, I swear … really, I do swear a lot, total potty mouth here) just shoot me an email, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.

Now grab another cup of coffee and get on with your day.  :)

I am sharing this process here and at:
BNOTP, Home Stories A to Z, Savvy Southern StyleRemodelaholic, and Sugar Bee Crafts.



  1. says

    WHEW! What a project…’s seems almost “impossible”….and yet….you somehow made it “possible.” :) You are a genius and a rockstar!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. says

    Great tutorial…amazing job! It’s nice to have a nice little push to tackle our projects…thanks for helping the pushing of many to tackle theirs, me included!
    xo J~

  3. says

    I am SO glad you stopped by and left me two sweet lil notes about my mailbox and my bathroom! {I actually linked both projects by mistake, I meant to only link my bathroom, but oh well} I am serious that this is the funnest blog hop ever!! Everyone has been so kind, and I have been able to see some AMAZING talent!!
    Plus you gave me some good ideas on how to hang things on my walls {they are lathe and plaster}
    Anyway I have found a new blog to LOVE!!!

  4. says

    First of all, that is completely and totally amazing that it is all hanging by one screw (and a little bit of orange putty!) It is simply quite ingenious that you managed to get it all hung!

    Second, thanks for letting me know about the new widget – I just followed you and I added it to my new blog too!

  5. karlaserendipity says

    Hi! thanks for stopping by. I already have a linky set up on my blog. It’s on the right hand side. :) I’m now following you. :)

  6. says

    Deets are good. We like deets.
    I haven’t seen the orange stuff before – looks like the old blue stuff that used to be around. (Am, I showing my age?) i seriously thought that you had used Comment Strips for all of your stuff. Now, going through it piece by piece I can see how you did it.

    Wow. Amazing!

  7. says

    Looks like there was no turning back once you started. I love that you really can’t take it all at once. You have to keep coming back. Congratulations.

  8. Pam says

    I love the dog silhouettes. I just found your website and became a follower. I want to make silhouettes of my four legged children. Thanks for posting this tutorial.

  9. Sue Reincke says

    Poster putty. The orange tacky stuff is called poster putty. :)
    I give you mad props for your creativity and patience. I may have thrown it all across the room when it came to the hanging-it-on-the-wall part.
    And I love, love, love the red rose heart!!

  10. says

    That’s just crazy! I can’t imagine trying that in my house, the only shelves we put up with a level look like down-hill ski slopes compared to the ceiling and walls! I also L-O-V-E the dog picture!

    I’m following you with LF now (just added it to my blog, not sure how I feel about it yet!)

  11. says

    Ok, my head is swimming. I know the process now, but I still don’t know how you did it! :) You have a lot more patience and determination than I- it turned out great. I’m just wondering what gave you the idea to try this? (I like to get inside the heads of creative people and hope some of it will rub off on me.) :)

  12. says

    This is awesome! We have a link party ending tonight… would you like to add it to our link party too? You could be featured next week!

    -Newest Follower


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