Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Artisan Exchanges: Painting in Milwaukee

From Thayne Abraham:

       I am now getting to know the shop a bit better as we work on "Ring of Fire".  I assumed I would learn something  during this experience but I am pleasantly surprised with my success in that department so far.  There are many variables in the scenic painting process.  Certain elements like brick, keep showing up in designs, but the specific look for each design varies and requires a different approach.  Products are changing over time and any product is fair game, from roof sealers to household cleaning products. Many tasks that are common place in scenic painting are endemic to the trade and therefore have no specific mass produced tool for the job. 

     Considering the nature of scenic art it is no surprise that different shops use different products and approaches.  I helped to paint a wallpaper pattern on a piece of scrim and Jim showed me a tool he made. I have always gotten down on my knees and used a thumbtack to pick up scrim to keep it from sticking to the floor but Jim fashioned a small hook from a type of clip that he attached to a bamboo stick which works perfectly to hook the scrim without tearing it and without the added wear and tear to the knees. During a long process of blocking on the walls for "Ring of Fire"(applying paint with a piece of wood) I was thrilled with the little handle they had applied to a piece of scrap pine.  These things may sound relatively insignificant but they really make a difference over the course of a long day. I have also been really excited about some products that I had never tried before. I am always happy to use a less toxic option and so I was thrilled by the performance of a water based stain we used today, the company is from right here in Wisconsin. Also back in Oregon we have been hunting for an inexpensive and high performance flat sealer and it appears that the Milwaukee Rep paint shop has just the product we were looking for. It's fun to see other peoples ways of generating scenery and I already feel a little more prepared to tackle my next project as my knowledge base grows. 


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