Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ColorForm Fun

Wow! We sure were able to get a lot done this past weekend! I keep telling myself that because it felt like we worked it, and yet we were able to cross only one thing off that aforementioned list.

In truth, we kinda got the Living Room painted. Kinda, like, ‘not really’. We did get the walls cleaned, patched, sanded and primed, tho. Saturday started with getting the girls ready to spend the day with Abuelita (Grandma), and two hours later they were off. Again, our primary goal was to work on the things that we could not do while they were here in the house. This means ‘stuff’ like priming with the shellac-based primer that seals in the smoking odors of the PO and prepped the top coat of “renters’ high-gloss bone white” paint for a new coat of our liking. The stuff is highly noxious but you need not de-gloss a surface for it to adhere (using TSP or sandpaper).

Another Diversion

So, just as the girls drove away, the cat [we have 3, but it will always be the same one who makes mention on this blog] managed to find the sole flower from the garden Roxana had just placed in a nice thick glass vase on the fireplace mantle the night before [Of note: we have NO house plants and no flowers in the house for this reason…but once in a while we always try].

Well, just as I turn around and see the beast, he nabs at the meager foliage and attempts to yank it out of the bottle, only to send it shattering to the Living Room floor, coffee table and new rug. Luckily (sic) it deflected to smash on the fireplace threshold, but the itty bitty glass shards were everywhere. I had to pick these up by hand and vacuum as I did not want to sweep them across our still relatively new hardwood floor.


An hour or so later, the Living Room was relatively vacated and clean, and I released Goatie from his ‘confine-ment’ (shut into a bedroom). We then proceeded to mask off the trim and floor and patch & sand the walls. One nice thing about craftsman homes and the like is that actual wall space is quite minimal when it comes to painting, much of it being taken up by trim, wainscoting and acquisition by the ceiling. Allow me to reiterate the rule that 90% effort is in the preparation, whereas 10% is for the actual ‘work’.

And then we were ready to prime the walls. This particular primer is incredibly runny, but it sticks to anything and anything sticks to it, ripe for plenty of options.

On Color

So we get the point of laying down the color. We were looking for something along the line of a muted/aged yellowish-orange. The Behr paint color we selected (which frankly looked VERY different online from the paint chip sample) was called ‘Squash’. The color we got was different still from either of the 2 translations we saw previously. On the wall, it looked quite more saturated, like a much younger color than the ‘mature’ one we were looking for.

Standing there, Roxana (color theorist she is) looks to me and declares “that’s a kindergarten yellow”. And just then, it hits me. I hear the song in my head “the wheels on the bus go round and round…” as I realize that this is the color of a school bus. This is NOT the color we wanted, not that I don’t like this color, just not on the wall. This is the same color you find on a Number 2 pencil, not in an austere-yet-friendly semi-social gathering space!

Joining The Club

After reading from so many other housebloggers on the difficulty of getting the color just right, we had thought we could nail it on the first try. Wearing our smugness on our face like egg yolk, we must contemplate our options.

We can adopt one of the many faux texturing techniques utilizing another color to sway it toward the hue we desire, with sponge or rag or whatnot. This is what we shall most likely do as it will take the least amount of time/effort. So we have left the masking in place for the time being.

Venetian Plaster

I, however, was pushing for the Venetian Plastering technique. And I really mean a hybrid akin to that, as traditional Venetian Plaster was attempting to recreate a marble effect, complete with a polishing to a slick shine. I don’t care for marbled walls or for a high gloss shine. What I want is an aged mottling of some color. Either way, it is rather labor intensive.

When Roxana & I were in college studying Architecture, one of the trends in studio was to model one's projects with MorphBoard. I don’t know who really came up with this, but we picked it up from Architectural-rockstars Morphosis (Santa Monica based) in the 90’s. Their models would look like they were carved out of something, and it was sexy.

Phhht! to foamcore and museum board and flat dead colors!

[NOTE1: The above 3 pictures are borrowed from the article at ArtSparx] [NOTE2: The following 2 pictures are courtesy of Morphosis, they show their models of the Performing Arts Pavilion (Los Angeles ~1992) and the Chiba Project (Tokyo ~1992) respectively]


MorphBoard was just the cheapest chipboard (cardboard) we could get (like free), and a series of layers (3-5) of modeling paste mixed with acrylic paint spackled on and then sanded [modeling paste is a medium for painters (art-kind) to give 'body' to their paintings. There are various grades and some have too much latex to be sandable]. Some would choose variations on a single color, while others would select complimentary colors (opposites). We tried graphite shavings, brass flakes, silk tread... It was sort of a challenge to see if one could make the nastiest looking board based on the colors or sloppiness one chose. The problem is they always ended up looking sweet after the final sanding, you could do no wrong.

Now plaster is not a far cry from modeling paste, as both adopt color and are sandable. So I suggested we go for this, as we both had plenty of experience making MorphBoard, this should be no different. But in the end, I lost the debate for now, and I have to admit that I agree. This prolongs a ‘weekend task’ for a month or more, as our renovating pacing is snail-like while our daughters are so little. And besides, as my wife put it, “there are other hobbies to pursue as well”, like painting (art-kind), sculpting and making miniatures.

And here's a gatuitous picture of our 'other' cat. He, also, was a rescue cat. He's albino and completely deaf. He is large, lanky and his meow is more like a yell, so we initially named hime Yeti. But because of his sugary-sweet disposition we have taken to renaming him Pink Maus. Pinky is also epileptic. But, perhaps we should have called him Ziggy Stardust 'cuz it seems like he comes from Mars and he's got that languid catwalk-thing down. Either way, he doesn't mind all this name changing business.

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