Homeowners' quest for new look in bathroom results in pigs

Pigs on the ceiling isn't what we had in mind when we set out to revamp our listless bathroom with a quickie makeover using rubber stamps.

We'd originally envisioned repainting the ceiling and cabinets with a tile pattern, but at a local craft store we came upon something better: a whole array of large rubber stamps in myriad designs, made primarily for use on walls and furniture, as well as pillows, floors, fabrics and gift items.

Wall stamping has really taken off. For $1.50 to $10 per stamp, you can find everything from azaleas to zebras from an array of designers.

There's even stuff that you can't imagine someone wanting on their walls or pillows. Like bacon. Or internal organs. No kidding. It's out there.

For more traditional tastes, choose from butterflies, lizards, dragonflies, hummingbirds, a garden's worth of flowers and a forest of leaves.

Beach bums can find sea horses, shells and fish. Parents might opt for cute, cartoony ducks or bears, or a baby footprint.

For the kitchen, consider a cocktail glass with an olive, or a coffee cup with curly steam emerging from it.

For pet lovers, paw prints. For little boys, trains, tractors and trucks. Many stamps also come in pre-packaged groups with similar themes for as little as $4.99.

Web surfing will give you a good idea of what designs are available.

Try www.addictedtorubberstamps.com, which sells stamps and supplies from more than 100 manufacturers. A search engine lets you look up desired images, like "bears" or "apples." Individual companies also have their own searchable Web sites.

We opted for an array of curly-cues, zigzags and other large images that went well together. We'd use them in a random pattern, which is the best bet for beginners. Less room for mistakes.

Then we saw the pig. A block-cut porker about 6 inches long.

A lone pig would look great on the ceiling, we decided. So we added him to our cart.

Most wall stamps are made of pliable foam. Some are made from wood and rubber, like traditional rubber stamps.

You can stamp your walls with the same stamps you'd use for greeting cards, but remember that small, intricate designs are harder to work with and may not look as great on a wall as they do on a small card.

We used latex paint, choosing yellow for the background and blue for the stamped images.

We also got a mold-resistant white primer. To apply the paint to our stamps, we bought a brayer - a roller that lays an even, thin coat on the stamps - for $10.99 from the craft store, rather than use a foam brush, which would have filled in the nooks on the stamps, a big no-no.

We worked out a system whereby one of us stayed up on a ladder and stamped the ceiling, while the other brayed the stamps, handing them up and pointing out spots on the ceiling where they'd go well.

This would have been frustrating and exhausting as a solo project, climbing up and down constantly.

As for our lone pig, after mulling over where to put him, and then admiring how great he looked up there, we decided that piggy deserved more prominence. Lots more. Now entire herds of pigs are among the curls and stars.