Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fun with Names

I had some fun making some names for some special kids I know (though we have never officially met).  My daughter's boyfriend's sister's family just adopted two young gentlemen from China recently.  I decided to welcome them to the good ol' USA with something fun.  Also, I made something for two terrific little sisters, who have been so welcoming to their new brothers.

Below are the early sketches I drew on the computer, just to figure out what I wanted to make.  On the right side, I drew up a tighter version in black line.
 Next I printed out the black line version, and spray-mounted them onto a board.  I bought myself a new scroll saw, just to work on this project.  I'd been thinking of getting one for a long time, and this was the perfect excuse.  Once I had cut out the shapes, I peeled off the paper copy.
The next step was to coat each of the names with a layer of gesso.  This would help seal up the wood, and give me a base to paint on.
Next I painted the basic colors I needed with acyrlic paints.  I'm only showing the dragon versions, but the process was similar when I painted the mermaids.  I added details with black and white markers.
And here they are, all finished.  I added a layer of spray-on clear varnish, just to seal them up and protect them.
I'm sure I'll be making something like this for my grandson in the near future.

Return to THE HUMMIN' BIRD CAFE!

This weekend, I took on a "rehab" project that has been bugging me for a while.  My "Hummin' Bird Cafe" was in need of some "curb appeal".  The blistering summers had melted the hot glue holding everything together.  And the cold winter and rains just beat up the shingles. Not that I minded the "weathered" look...it was just a bit too much.  And the round side feeder lost all the shingles that kept the seed in, so in the cold winter, I had stapled on a temporary fix made from sandpaper.

Everything has wood screws holding it on to the "tree post".  I took everything down to my basement so I could peel off all the nasty stuff.  The frogs fell apart, too, and I had to re-glue them.  I had not even noticed that the little frog that used to sit on the roof of the front porch was now missing.  Perhaps a bird or squirrel got him! I might have to make another froggy.
I decided to cut up a bunch of little sticks to use for the railing around the side deck.  That's the platform that holds the hummingbird feeder, but also can hold seed in the winter. I drilled out the holes a bit larger, to allow water to drain better.
I put on a whole new roof for the front porch.  I want to give a big shoutout to my nearby SHERWIN WILLIAMS paint store!!!  I had the idea of using stir sticks this time for the shingles, instead of gluing each on one at a time.  The guy was kind enough to give me about 50 stir sticks for this project!!  I then used my band saw to cut grooves into the length of wood.
It was pretty time consuming to custom cut each row of shingles...but much faster than gluing the single shingles.
Below, the Cafe is ready for paint!
I decided to paint the roof blue this time, since I had used that color on the trim of the door and windows the first time around.  Then I "aged" the color by giving it a wash of brown, very watered down.  I dabbed it all with a paper towel as I went.
The final results worked out pretty well.  And by painting a good coat of blue, I figure that it will hold up better in the harsh weather.
So here's how it looks today.  I also filled up the hummingbird feeders with sugar water.  Now all I need are some birds who know how to hum!!   :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

CHALK ART at the ZOO - Year 2!

Today was the second year I participated in "Wild Saturday", a volunteer event sponsored by Hallmark Cards at the Kansas City Zoo.  Around 400 Hallmarkers and their family members spread tons of mulch, planted trees, shrubs and flowers. And once again, part of the activities involved CHALK ART!!  Last year was the first time I had ever tried doing a large scale chalk illustration. This year, I was asked by the planning team to help lead the artist's project, which I was happy to do.  Thanks to Amy Winterscheidt, for heading up the Planning Team!!

We were all expecting the rains to force us to cancel the event. But enough people prayed, crossed toes and fingers, and did a "no rain dance".  We had some showers in the early morning, but the rains never showed for the event!  (As I am typing this...it's starting to rain outside! At least we got everything done for "Wild Saturday".)
You'll notice the wet pavement...and the young man in the far right upper corner who was blow-drying the squares before the artists arrived.  A huge thanks goes out to Danny Carmichael, Director of Facilities at the zoo, who helped me tape off the 5'x5' squares yesterday.  And also thanks to Crystal Broadus-Waldram, the zoo's Horticulture Manager, for ordering our chalk supplies.

Below is my pre-lim sketch of a Black Rhino, breaking through the pavement.  I combined several photos I found online to get the pose I wanted, and drew up the broken debris flying out from the rhino.  I had also done a variation in black and white on the computer with a grid.  I made a grid on the pavement, and drew the basic line work onto the area with a chalk holder taped to the end of a dowel.  You'll also see my fancy "rolly knee pad" in blue, made from a trash can dolly.
Once I have the sketch done, then I just started filling in the main shapes with an undertone, then I build up the colors on top of that.  Below you can see the progress.
Here is the final version.  This year I simplified my design so that I could complete it in the alloted 3 hours we had to work.  Much better on my back this time around.
A close up of the face of a serious rhino who has places to go and people to see!
Now for some photos of the other artists that were there today.  We had some really fun results this year...a lot more variety.  And it was great to see families team up on the drawings.

I need to also say a huge "Thank You" to Shelly Cook, a fellow Hallmarker, who helped coordinate the chalk supply tables...I couldn't have drawn my rhino without her helping everyone!!  It was a great turnout today, and I think the event was a complete success!