HOW TO: Decorate with Dingbats

We never formally decorated our baby room. During our pregnancy we
were considering moving to another city, so painting was out of the
question, and after the birth we had no time.

Framed prints and other purchasable decor I’ve seen have been more
about pleasing a parent’s perception of the perfect baby room, rather
than attempting to engage the baby.

I wanted walls that would interest my daughter. So I covered the baby’s room in dingbats – fonts that depict drawings rather than letters. I traced and hand-colored 20 large, fun faces over several evenings after Little Miss had gone to bed.

Collage of various face dingbat fonts that adorne Little Miss' bedroom wallsMiss loved to look at the dingbats from her bed, focusing on individual faces and babbling about them. Later, she learned to point at the faces and babble. At 13 months, she now says "that" when pointing.

Here is a quick primer on the process:

  1. Select your dingbats – faces are your best choice because babies love them. Choose dingbats that are very simple to trace and have a clear border for cutting, because the entire process will take quite a bit of time.
  2. Print the dingbats as big as possible using one of these methods:
    • In a word processor, shrink your page margins to create a bigger printable area. Print your dingbat as large as will fit on an 8×11 sheet of paper.
    • If you have Photoshop skills, render the dingbat (right click on the layer and select ‘rasterize’) as a 300dpi graphic about 11"x17" in size. Slice the dingbat into multiple pieces, printing each piece on 8×11 paper. With scissors, cut each dingbat sheet, put the pieces back together and fasten them with tape.
  3. Buy a couple pieces of white poster board at a dollar store.
  4. Put the paper and poster board against a window and trace the dingbat.
  5. On a tabletop, retrace the dingbat with fat ink markers. Darker colors show up better in low light – which gives the baby something to focus on when going to bed or waking up. Consider inking different components of the dingbat with different colors (e.g., eyeballs one color, the face another color, etc.)
  6. Cut out the dingbat with scissors and tack it to the wall. Be sure the thumbtack is in the wall securely, and is not in the path of a ceiling fan, wall vent or other air flow that may eventually pry it loose.

OK, you’re probably wondering, why not just do the coloring in Photoshop and print color dingbats? Well, you could do that. I feel the dingbats look much better when they are printed larger and are cut out as rounded objects, instead of being small prints on rectangular paper.

Fun face fonts:

Face It dingbat by West Wind Fonts (unframed direct link to Face It).

Fazings One dingbat by Jakob Fischer.

Square Heads dingbat by Jakob Fischer.

Zing Ding 2 dingbat by Jakob Fischer.

Also see: Jakob Fischer’s web site.

Kim’s Toons dingbat (at the top, above the font listings).

Toon Town dingbat by Rick Montgomery.

Comments

2 Responses to “HOW TO: Decorate with Dingbats”

  1. ThreePts says:

    Great find. I have used dingbats for years and had yet to think of this idea. Thanks.

    July 28th, 2005 at 8:22 am

  2. Lisa says:

    If you’re up for actually painting on the wall, I’ve had good luck printing the graphic big, then “tracing” it with an x-acto knife on contact paper, making a stick-on stencil. With care, it’s possible to peel and re-stick a couple of times to create several iterations at different spots.
    Great idea.

    July 10th, 2007 at 7:03 pm