Patching a hole in my sheetrock wall turned out to be not so bad. I got guidance from my friend Dave, who described the method I used. It is probably standard practice, but it was new to me. It is also clever and elegant. I started by making the hole square. This was more challenging than it should have been, because I couldn't find my large utility knife, so I had to use a small x-acto knife.
Then I cut a piece of sheetrock slightly larger than the hole. About an inch all around is what you need, maybe a little more. Then you score it by making shallow cuts on the actual dimensions of the hole.
Bend the sheetrock along the scoring, and then pull the plaster away from the paper.
You're left with a flap of paper, which you use to stick the patch to the wall. At this point, I would have been ready to goop it in there, but as you can see, there's an outlet in my hole. I didn't know what to do about the outlet. I felt that the box should come from behind and then through the patch, but I would have had to disconnect the outlet pretty completely, and because my wiring is antique and I don't know what I'm doing, I decided not to start taking things apart. I did, however, take the precaution of pulling the fuse before I started messing around here.
So I did what any self-respecting novice would do. I called the expert, and Dave very generously came over to help me out. (See Little One just behind and to the left of Dave, gazing up with admiration? Little thinks Dave is very, very cool.)
Dave not only made this elegant little hole in about twenty seconds, he also shimmed and secured the outlet itself to the nearby stud. It had been sort of dangling in its hole, and I was hoping that my new patch would be sturdier so it would cease its dangling. Dave just did it right, with power tools.
Sweet! Now I got to do the fun part. I put spackle in a thick bead around the flap of paper.
Fitted it into the hole...
And then smushed the spackle around the edges to stick the patch to the wall. Next I'll put a few more thin layers of spackle around the edges of the patch, to ease the bumpy transition between the paper and the wall. I'll use a putty knife for that, to make it smoother. After it dries, I'll sand it and it will be ready to paint.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this project. It has been really bugging me for a long time, not just because it was a big ugly hole in my wall, but also because for a long time I thought it was something I had to get Joe to do. After I realized that's what I was thinking, I got over it, rationally, but it was still a long way from there to actually getting out the tools and doing it.
I might be just a little disappointed with myself that I called Dave for help. After I called and before he got here, I came up with a solution that would probably have worked, but because I am far less experienced, it would have taken me much longer. Dave did it quickly and well, and I learned a lot just by watching him and asking him about it as he was doing it.
This seems an important balance in education, at home or anywhere. I think I tend to to be very much in the 'work it out yourself, you'll learn more' camp, both with my teaching and my homeschooling. I'm realizing that there is a lot to be learned from experts. It can be satisfying to learn something on your own, of course, but there is much to be gained from talking to and learning from competent people doing complex things well.
Too much of this would be oppressive of course; kids need to try things out too. Kids sure don't need a bunch of super-competent people around all the time, showing them how much better at everything they are. That would be really bad for their willingness to try new things, and we all need to work things out on our own at times; it's good for our brains.
I guess I'm looking for a kind of balance here, both for myself and for my kids. There was a time when I never would have asked for help, but would have just kept working at that hole until I figured it out, even if it took all day. Instead, I gave myself an opportunity to learn a bunch of new tricks by asking for help.
Big One wants his photo credits. He took most, if not all, of the above pictures. He took some crazy wild motion shots too, and I'll put those up another day.