Saturday, March 16, 2013

Preparation! Dangerous chemicals, power tools and lots of tape!


Here's something has puzzled me for a long while...
Why is THIS item so fun to use...

 ...but this item, shaped almost the same, is NOT at all fun?  Any explanations anyone?
I used the Ryobi cordless sander to give the bare aluminum a final smoothing.
 I call this "Still-life With Latex Gloves."  I washed down the sander panel with this:
Please note: "for use by professional, trained personnel, using proper safety equipment."  Haha, that's me!
Remember in fourth grade when the Fire Marshall came to school?  These are the solvent-soaked rags he warned us about.  His words were singing in my memory as I wiped down the aluminum dust with the Grease and Wax remover - "Children remember: STOP, DROP, and ROLL!"  Back then everyone's dad had a bucket in the garage filled with rags like these...just waiting to ignite a conflagration.  I used to fantasize about leading my confused family from the burning wreckage of our once-beautiful home and exhorting them to STOP, DROP, and ROLL...saving them, becoming a local hero, BEING IN THE NEWSPAPER!  That was huge back then, being in the newspaper. Whatever happened to newspapers?
After successfully NOT setting myself afire with the wax and grease remover, I washed the area with pure water.  The hose did not stretch, so I improvised.

Then using giant black plastic drum liners and LOTS of tape, I did this...

I once read that we grow to love things we care for, the things we feed, groom, clean or manage in some way.  This would explain why I have grown to love this trailer in the 5 days it has been here.  I wanted to be certain no overspray or bug poopage would mar its shiny aluminum fenders and running boards or dust its enamel finish or powder its windows or sully its screens.  So I wrapped the bejeepers out of it.
This is the tape I used (Betty bought a whole case!)  It is THE BEST.  See what it says?  "60 Day Clean Removal" and "Low Adhesion".  That means it will come off cleanly and leave no sticky gunk behind that would necessitate a scrubbing with Goo-Gone (another fine product).
The photo looks a little Mondrian-esque.  That is the aluminum panel with its sanded edge nicely feathered, the double edge of tape and the black plastic.  I used 17 garbage bags, but they will all be salvageable at the end of the project because I did not cut them.
The actual PRIMER SPRAYING has begun!  This was the first coat...a "dry coat", which means you NEVER, while spraying, must see the paint in its shiny wet form.  I learned this from my automotive finishing mentors (online).  The patchy look is actually desirable in a first coat.  Trust me.
FUN FACT: the custom auto guys and the rare gal in the biz call auto finishes in aerosol spray cans "rattle cans".  Rattle cans are for poor unfortunates, like me, who don't have spray booths...OR for small, touch-up jobs.  This panel, even though I think it is HUGE, is considered a touch-up sized job.
This is overspray.  But it is dry powder because I stood the proper distance from the surface to be prepped, so by the time the excess drifted to the left (the wind was from the right) it had dried enough to lose any adhesive properties. This white powder would have dusted the whole back of the trailer.  But it didn't.  It was protected thanks to Frog Tape and Hefty Bags.
I forgot to mention that the temperature needed to be 70 degrees for the primer to work properly.  I waited for what seemed like hours. 
I almost started shaking the cans when this (68.3)was the temperature, but I waited.  This is a great little weather station that provides not only temp and humidity but outfit and recreation suggestions, too.  The little weather guy favors basic black, whether he is in his Speedo or his snow suit.                (Yes, that is a tomato.)

More sanding between primer coats.  This is the EXACT grit size recommended.  I'm good that fooling around with maybe a 300 or a 400; if they say 320, I USE 320!
This is a large foam block that follows curves.  The horse trailer panel LOOKS flat.  It is not.
This is the brand of automotive paint I chose after hours and hours of online research.  They have transparents, opaques, florescents, irridescents, and candies in a whole rainbow range of beautiful colors, and all sorts of sealers, binders, and reducers, too.  By the way, a "reducer" thins the paint so it can be used in very fine detail airbrushes.

Sealer White acts as a bridge between the primer and the color layer, where the picture will happen.  I applied this with a very fine foam roller meant for applying lacquer finishes to cabinets and fine furniture.

Here's another fun fact with which to impress your friends - technically speaking, paint doesn't DRY, it "flashes off".  I was confused by this when I started researching automotive finishing.  The writers would say things like,  "Flash for 30 minutes before applying second coat."  Wait...what?!?  "Flash" has so many meanings.  I had to find a For Dummies guide online to figure out what they meant.  But, now YOU know.

So, while waiting for my three coats of Sealer White to properly flash, I needed something to do.  Betty had mentioned that she needed to get the lettering on the right side of the trailer replaced.  UV rays had cooked the vinyl letters and turned the gold to an ugly scaly brown.
I decided I couldn't hurt anything by applying Auto-Air Gold over the gator-like surface.  It worked!  Check this out...and imagine one more coat of gold.
When I get the gold consistently covering the scaly brown I am going to add Hot Rod Sparkle, a translucent finish that sparkles in the sunlight like a million dancing fairies!  Then I will clear-coat it for protection.  If Betty hates it, no problem...she was going to replace these letters anyway.

Now it is Saturday morning...and it is COLD here in Myakka City!  43.5 degrees.  Yuck.  I must wait until it warms up to 70 for the next stage - masking out the fence area and the horse head shapes and  laying in a border and the beautiful blue Florida sky.

Stay tuned...and thanks for watching!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An EXCITING new project!!!


Usually I create my paintings of people and pets in my  comfortable, air-conditioned studio.  I have a frig for snacks and drinks, easels to support my work, a sink for rinsing brushes, music, lots of space...even a beautiful cat named Pablo PiCATso for company.  There is no wind and no bugs. 

But I don't care about all that cushy comfort, because I have an exciting new project in the works!!!

The project is...


How did this come about?  My neighbor, Betty, asked me if I would paint her three horses on her trailer.  There is way more to the story, of course, because don't all stories contain elements of serendipity and surprise and coincidence and convolution?  But for now, that's all you need to know.
This is Betty with Apollo, her beautiful Palomino.  He isn't usually so fancy with the bows in his mane; this was taken after a Christmas parade.

Betty's trailer is BIG, but she backed it into our pole barn bay like she was threading a needle.  I have tried several times to back up a golfcart hitched with a small 17 cubic foot dump trailer and I jack-knife every time, so I was mighty impressed by Betty's skill.

This is the scaffolding I scrounged together from concrete blocks and pallets.  It is the perfect working height and I will be able to comfortably reach every part of my 50 inch high by 80 inch wide "canvas".

Betty's husband, Don, did all the tedious prep sanding.  He took the old finish off right down to the bare aluminum.  I did a final sanding with very fine grit paper and a vibratory sander.  Thank goodness for the Ryobi cordless system.

For the last many weeks, knowing this project was coming up, I have been researching automotive paint finishes and it has opened up a whole new world to me.  I have learned so much by hanging out on custom motorcycle websites with airbrush and pinstriping artists with names like "CrossEye" and "Crash".  I feel confident I could walk into any one of those "pimp my ride" places and speak knowledgeably about clear-coat and surface prep and K2 urethane drop coats.  I have learned to appreciate decorative auto graphics and I understand the appeal of skulls and flames...and even flaming skulls.  Eventually I will need my own nickname.  "Bootsy" has been suggested.

 First, I am going to wash the area to be painted with a special automotive grease and wax remover, then wash that away with clear water and buff it dry. Next I will carefully mask off the part of the trailer I will not be painting (that's MOST of the trailer, thank goodness).
Then I will use this High Build Primer Surfacer when the wind dies down.  IF the wind dies down.  It is a beautiful day here in Florida, but there is a strong breeze from the N-NW.  For my loved ones in cold places (Minnesota!), here are some photos of this gorgeous 76 degree day.

In the next post I will show you the sketches for the mural and some of the hundreds of photos I have taken of my beautiful equine models.

Thanks for stopping by.  Please subscribe to this blog if you'd like to see the next steps in the process...or just email me and I will put you on the list.

All the best, Jandi