Sunday, 23 January 2011

Scarlett's Tree

As threatened, I have a baby related post, however, I do think that it qualifies as a workshop project as it involves painting a mural onto a wall and the problem solving that went along with making it all come together.
When we learned that we were going to have a little girl, we started planning out how we would paint her room.  We decide that we'd like to paint a mural (really it's more of a fun graphic) on the wall of her room.  I keep saying "we", but for the record, I'd like to point out that the color palette, the image we painted, and the overall layout of this project were all selected and arranged by my wife, Adrienne.  She did a great job, and I was happy to help her in making sure that we did justice to all her great planning.

OK then, let's get started.  We wanted to frame our mural within a boarder, and our design called for this boarder to be a large circle.  So, I first made a large circle drawing compass.  I did this by using a long 4ft. straightedge ruler along with some make-shift trammel points.  My stand-ins for the trammel points were a long nail at one end and a pencil at the other.  I taped my points down onto the ruler (very securely) and that was how I made my circle drawing jig, or compass.  After making this, I next found the center point of what was to be my circle, and then, using the ruler as a radius arm that pivoted from the center point of the circle, I struck my lines.

After striking all my lines, I carefully taped all the way from one end of the circle to the other with one long continuous length of tape.  I used a light-tack (blue) painters tape, and, as I laid down the tape, I arched it to follow the curve of the line I had stuck, or put plainly, I bent the tape to follow the line.  This worked great, and it gave us a nice clean line, and a perfect circle.
After all the taping-off was finished, the painting began.  The walls outside the mural boarder would be peach (on the top) and a nice shade of lavender (on the bottom).  The boarder itself would be white, and the area inside the boarder would be a lighter shade of lavender than the one used outside of the boarder.
As we finished painting each taped-off sections, we would peel off the tape.  Then (after the paint was dry) we would re-tape the opposite sections so that we could paint the opposite sides.  We did this until we had all of our wall sections painted.
After the initial wall painting was finished, I added some trim that acted as a decorative boarder between the top and bottom wall colors.  The trim went all the way around the room except for where it came up to the mural's painted boarder.  That's where it ended.  I secured the trim onto the wall with screws (into the studs).  I used spackling paste to clean up the holes and seams, and then used some white paint touch-up paint to finish the job.  In the end, the trim really added a nice touch to the overall look and feel of the room.
Below is a shot of our painted walls, painted boarder, and the trim we added, all pre-mural.  At this point, the only thing missing besides the mural itself, was...
... a drop shadow inside the circle's boarder, to add some depth.  So, we taped it off, and we painted it in.
Now, onto painting the mural.  Adrienne found the image of the stylized tree we used on the interwebs.  It was a vector based image that we both really liked.  We thought it looked very cute and the style was a lot of fun, so we bought the rights and grabbed our hi-rez download.

Now, the problem at this point was getting our image up onto the wall at the size we wanted, which happened to be very big.  At first, I thought we would have to make a very complex pattern, but then I remembered that my brother owns a video projector and thought that we should be able to just project the image up onto the wall.  Good idea, right?  Well, it was a good idea for a little while, but there was one problem.  Even with the projector pulled back to the other side of the room, the image being projected was way too small.  So, how did we finally pull it off you ask?  Well, we used the old "point the projector into a mirror and reflect it back onto the opposite wall" trick.  Below you'll see the projector on the floor.  We pointed it into the mirror (set against the opposite wall) and then the mirror reflected the image all the way back onto the wall where we wanted our full size image.
By using the mirror, we were able to double the distance of the projector from the wall, and thereby got the image to be twice as big, which very luckily turned out to be perfect.  This bit of problem solving turned out to be an unexpected moment of triumph.  We were thrilled and relieved!  This was a very nifty trick to have pulled off, and we were really happy that it worked because it saved us a lot of time.  After this, everything else was easy.  We used white Prismacolor pencils to trace the image onto the wall.
And then, having the image traced up onto the wall, the painting of our tree finally began.  This part was a lot of fun!

The last of the painting that needed to happen was to add these tiny little detail dots that represent the fruit of the tree.  They are essentially little circles that are set next to the branches of the tree.  They were perfectly round and they would have been a pain to paint by brush because there were so many of them, so we decided to apply them with a stencil instead.  Adrienne found a sponge stencil at our local hobby shop which was the right size, and it worked perfectly.
After that, it was just dip and press.  "Heck, a frickin' monkey could do this part", we thought!  As it turns out, I was that monkey.
And that's it.  We finished our mural!  We had a lot of fun painting it and we were really happy with how everything turned out.  We were also happy that we were able to finish it as early as we did because we really wanted to have plenty of time for the paint fumes to air out.  The main reason for this was because we were planning on having a home birth, and part of our plan was for our daughter, Scarlett Danger Anderson Preciado, to be born in this (her) room.  And, on Monday October 4th, that's exactly what happend.  :)
Tony Preciado