Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

Archive for January, 2016

Painting: Power’s Out!

BOOM! The major transformer blew. Off went all of the power. The bright lights, that I was working under, now dark.


The spray gun in my hand: nothing more than an idled device of steel and aluminum.


In the background, the steady hum of the gas-powered compressor, assuredly still on the job.



Without notice, popcorning out the 32-feet by 60-feet ceiling stopped cold. The custom designed effect: less than one-half of the application completed.


The “blackout” – totally out of my control – reminded me of an important on-the-job lesson.


Some things can’t be prevented by (me) the painter. They can’t be prepared for 100 percent either.


All you can do is:


  1. Shut down the compressor – if you haven’t done it already.
  2. Take a breather. Maybe take a seat on the drop-clothed floor.
  3. Glance around. What can you do while you wait for the power to come back on?

Example: “Do I need to get the spray gun into that bucket of water nearby?”

  1. Look around. What can you clean up and wipe up without access to power or lights?
  2. Find your meal pack. Grab an apple. Enjoy your lunch a little early.
  3. Go with the flow! Eventually, the power will be restored. And, things will get back to normal. (Well, close enough.)
  4. Personal Note: While I waited for the power to return, sitting outdoors in my Blazer was not an option. Temperature with the heat index and full sun exceeded 100 degrees.


SPECIAL TIPS: Does it look like your spray work is done for the day?

  1. Flush out and clean the spray hoses the best that you can. Lasso, tie securely, put in storage area provided. Or, on the truck.
  2. The same goes for your spray gun(s), and all other equipment and tools.
  3. Secure and straighten out the work area before you leave. Tightly close and safely store all containers of texturing, paint, thinners, and other products. Also all supplies.


And, there’s always tomorrow!


Have a great one: friends, e-mailers, likers, and secured followers.


Everything of value can be put to good use. Rdh



Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Ewauld and Eva of The Drake in Chicago

Ewauld and Eva Meitzner worked over forty years at The Drake in Chicago. Ewauld served as Matre’d of the world famous Men’s Club, or Coq d’Or. Eva served as hostess with the Arcade’s elegant Gift Salon.


The Coq d’Or was a gentleman’s bar for gentlemen only. Local men of prestige, renown, and wealth, or men of equal stature from out of town.


The bar’s appointments were, indisputably, the very finest in any hotel between Chicago and New York City to the east, or San Francisco to the west.


* Hand-carved, imported black walnut front door, entered from the hotel’s marble corridor.

* Rich marble and dark walnut foyer entry.

* Finely polished ceiling-to-floor paneling.

* Small collection of original oil paintings by masters.

* Custom-made tables, chairs and bar stools.

* Sparkling, gold-edged mirror behind the curved bar.

* Velvety plush deep crimson carpeting,

* Philharmonic-quality music system.


Many of the harvested woods had been hand selected by The Drake’s eminent architect Benjamin Howard Marshall and co-founders and brothers, John P. Drake and Tracy Corey Drake.


Ewauld seemed to know every visitor by name. On sight. Without introduction. Instinctively, he knew what to say to each man, and how to say it. He knew much about each man that visited the Coq d’Or. He knew how to respect them, and protect their privacy. (This was before Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)


He ensured that the Coq d’Or, at all times, represented The Drake at its best. In kind, the owners of the international hotel treated Ewauld with the utmost of respect and appreciation. (Including financially.)


Ewauld had the kind of personality that made everyone feel welcome, respected and relaxed.


Ewauld was a man of short stature. His distinguished wavy silver hair nearly as famous s the hotel that he served. His uniform: Impeccably-fitting black or dark blue pin-stripe suits, white pleated dress shirts, matching or deep-red silk ties. And, black dress shoes that shone!On occasion, he wore a European-cut tuxedo suit, but never a dinner jacket.


Eva served as hostess and manager of the Gift Salon in the Arcade. Its elegant amenities featured:


* White and white-gold marble-veined floor.

* Glass cased, lined in red or ivory velvet.

* Gold damask-upholstered settees, and carved arm chairs, imported from Paris.

* Crystal chandeliers that lent a soft glow, that complemented the fine jewelry sold there, and the fine ladies that shopped there.

* Dainty china tea cups, and elegant tea service.

* Red, Velvet-lined gold gift boxes, and white-gold satin ribbons bearing The Drake emblem.


Every aspect of the Gift Salon’s operations was handled by Eva, personally. Displays, items sold, pricing, “client services,” boxing and wrapping of purchases, Salon’s stationery design, hand-written “Thank you” notes to clients, etc.


Her business mind was sharp, and almost photographic. Her personality: warm, friendly, “endearing.” She possessed a subtle wit, her eyes always sparkling with glee. She knew how to treat fine ladies, because she was one.


Like Ewauld, Eva was short. Petite and elegant, in a country-manor way. She wore her silver-blonde hair short, with soft waves around her delicate face. She dressed in tasteful, one or two-piece dresses, or finely tailored suits. Fine fabrics, soft and basic hues. Two-inch pumps, always in a neutral shade. One strand opearls, or a simple gold necklace around her neck, matching ear rings, a ladies Bulova watch, and her gold wedding ring.


One of the Meitzner’s “perks” was their upstairs apartment at The Drake. An apartment that set unused, except during the busy holiday season at the hotel, and in very inclement weather. Days off- always taken together – were enjoyed at their cozy apartment on North Lincoln Avenue. Vacations were spent at their cottage on Lake Geneva, north of Chicago. A place as cozy as The Drake was elegant.


Ewauld and Eva never had children. Ewauld and Eva took my mother under their wing, when she worked part-time at The Drake. A design student and alone, she appreciated the watchful eye of the Meitzners, and other regular staff members.


A Surprise from The Meitzners


In May of 2015, my mother received a custom-made carton, bearing a shipping label with The Drake’s newer logo. Inside were two small wooden boxes, each bearing The Drake’s original emblem design. Both hand-carved, each box had brass hinges and a brass lock and key. Each box had a brass plate on its lid. One was etched with Ewauld’s name, the other with Eva’s name.


It had been over 50 years since my mother had worked at The Drake. Both Ewauld and Eva had died before 1990. Mom’s last one-on-one communication with anyone at the five-star hotel had been in with the former general manager: Sir Patrick Kane.


Who had sent the little boxes? Someone knew how much Ewauld and Eva still meant to their former co-worker, and “little duckling.” And, cared enough to find her, and make certain that those keepsake boxes were placed in her hands.


Historical Note: The Drake was founded in 1919-1920. In December of 2014, The Drake joined the Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since 1980, the hotel has been a part of Hilton International.



The Drake is located, off of North Michigan Avenue, at 140 East Walton Place,

Chicago, Illinois. Phone: 1.312.787.2200. Reservations: 1.800.553.7233.


Thank you, everyone, for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.


Planting Seeds Where We’re Planted


Over the years, our family has planted seeds that thrived and blessed the earth, the people, and the communities in which we’ve been planted. We’ve planted our share of seeds that grew less hardy. We’ve even planted a few seeds that withered, and died.


We’ve tried to live by this message:


Plant good seeds wherever you are planted. Wherever you find yourself at the time.


Questioning my own contributions…

In early 2013, I took a few more intense looks at the value and hardiness of the seeds that were being planted at the hotel. Including by me! I paid closer attention to life at the hotel.


Every staff member had been struggling increasingly. The entire hotel family tried its best to manage the challenges of working under an ever-tightening budget, personnel cutbacks, external mandates, etc. (An on-going, common challenge with many hospitality businesses.)


We struggled with serving our guests well. With supporting each other – and our hotel family – to the best of our abilities, and limits. We tried to do our respective jobs confidently, effectively, and safely. And, do our respective parts to protect, preserve, and promote the hotel.


For over a month, I asked myself questions like:


  1. What contributions can I make to help my teammates’ lives be better?
  2. How can I improve my way of doing things to make the hotel a great place to work? A great place to stay? What needed changes can I make?
  3. Where do I fit here? How do I fit? Do I still fit here?
  4. Do I still fit here?


Key answers came from a former staff member. A great workplace “seed-planter!”


Planting Seeds with 850 other “Seed-Planters.”


In a speech recently, my mother encouraged conference attendees to plant seeds wherever they’ve been planted. To carefully select the kinds of seeds to plant. To properly plant them. And, to “tend” to them they grow.


She talked about the yields expected, by others and ourselves. She talked about the yields that can be reaped from crops grown from healthy seeds. Even the smallest, most fragile ones.


She reflected on the agricultural and humanitarian roots of every family. She offered a simple explanation of how a seed is planted, and its value to the whole.


“One seed is planted one time. Each seed is planted in its own tiny space. Even when that tiny space is shared with other seeds planted in very close proximity. Every seed is precious, and of immense worth in its own way. Leaving behind essential benefits – nutrients – for the soil, the people, and the community.”


Most of the 850 attendees sat alert and listened. A few persons texted on their smartphones, held low in their laps. Very few dozed.


Planting Seeds in the Workplace


Everyone eyed the large screen ahead, when my mother started showing how seeds grow in the world of the workplace.


“Daily, each of us plants seeds that impact the world. Far beyond the tiny space that we take up, in doing our jobs. We may or may not realize how we pollinate the seeds that others will plant next. Wherever they will have been planted. Seeds that will produce crops that still others will harvest. Passing on benefits to even more people and more communities.”


Near the end of the 30-minute speech, the photo of a large field of luscious-looking Big Boy Tomatoes appeared on the screen. And, the following:


“A few questions:

  1. At the end of the day, are we supposed to know if and how those seeds, that we have planted, will benefit others?
  2. Isn’t it enough to know that we have planted the best seeds available to us?
  3. Isn’t it enough to know that we have planted them carefully and caringly? And, that we have tended and nurtured them just as conscientiously?”

A True Story…


Shortly after my mother’s third birthday, her mother (my grandmother) showed how to drop tiny Pine, Evergreen and Blue Spruce seeds into soil-filled, wooden flats in the greenhouse. A few months later, Grandma transplanted each seedling into a huge truck patch behind their Sears farm house.


On a lumpy little pillow, my mother would sit on the moist earth. Helping her mother plant, by laying one seedling at a time near the shallowly dug trench. Quickly, she learned the difference between a Christmas tree seedling, and a weed.


A few weeks after that lesson, Grandma led her to the garden patch of young seedlings. And, Grandma taught my mother about patience.


“She taught me how to weed. Slowly and carefully. With each 3-to-4 inch growth I touched, your grandma let me know if I’d selected a weed, or a tree seedling.


“If she tipped her head and rolled her eyes, it meant that I’d made a good choice: a weed. If she tipped her head to one side it meant I might want to reconsider. It was a tree seedling.


About Planting Seeds…


Planting seeds where we are planted tends to require much more than our immediate attention, patience and “learnedness.” It requires our enduring presence!


It requires us to return to the “truck patch” – and tend to those good seeds, or seedlings, that we planted carefully and conscientiously. It requires us to help others to do the same.


The process of growing tiny seeds into a healthy, bumper crop takes “a feel for the land,” my grandfather used to say. Lots of ingenuity, energy, courage, and persistence. To harvest that crop requires knowledge, common sense, and timeliness. To reap the real benefits of that crop requires us to spread them around to others first.


“The Fine Art” of Planting Good Seeds


A year before my grandfather died, he talked about the “fine art” of planting good seeds. He referred to his country retirement home in southern Indiana.


“It was the garden,” he said, that kept him “grounded.” Tilling the soil and deciding what to grow. Planting the seeds where they would get the nutrients, sun, and drainage they needed. Fertilizing, watering, and weeding. Then deciding when to harvest which crop, and so on.


Grandpa emphasized: “It’s very fulfilling to see the seeds you planted grow into a harvest and benefit others. Then propagate into more seeds, more crops, more harvests.”


Planting Seeds at Work


“The same could be said about work,” I told a former teammate recently. “Sometimes, we must opt for the more difficult individual choice. To protect the many good seeds planted already at the hotel. By others and by me. And, to protect the great staff members that had been doing their best to plant good seeds, too.”



As the hotel workplace changes, so do the seeds planted by team members that work there.

Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.


Upcoming Blog Topics for 2016

Hello, Everyone,

Looking forward to a new year full of opportunities – and challenges (of course)?
How about checking in here, when schedule permits? And picking up tips to help your painting job easier?


10 Upcoming Topics…


1. Building a Spray Booth: Affordable Options.

A. The Portable

B. The Recyclable Space


2. Hotel Painting Tips for Engineering/Maintenance Techs: An Update.


3. Spraying Dos, Don’ts, and Maybes.


4. Painting Methods: Adapting for Ability Changes.


5. Painting Methods: Adapting for Environmental Changes and Challenges.


6. Painting Methods: Adapting for Property/Structural Changes.


7. Painting Methods: Adapting for Company Policy Changes.


8. Our Brain’s Memory: The Basics.


9. Memories Are Made of This: Four Main Types.


10. Our Brain’s Memory: At Our Workplace.


Painting and decorating offers a full spectrum of creative opportunities. Even in pursuing the most mundane tasks. And, embarking on the most exciting new projects. Enjoy them all!



Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.


Decorative Finishing: Goldleafing and Silverleafing


A five-foot high wall set on either side of an entry to the new Macy’s in Aventura Mall. Architectural specifications called for each wall to be covered with sheets of pure Silverleaf.


A decorative “leafing” artist was engaged to apply the delicate sheets. Originally from Shanghai, she followed the traditional method as she worked with each small square. Slowly, meticulously and patiently.


She demonstrated immense respect for, and understanding of the properties of those razor-thin sheets. Harvested from melted, then solidified, then thinly-sliced pure gold.


I watched her work, whenever I was prepping or finishing surfaces in the same general area.


Periodically, I noticed tiny clues of concern in her eyes. Also, controlled frustration..


At long last, she completed the painstaking project. The architect rejected the finished job. The problems were apparent, especially to the artist herself.

1. The area – two half walls – was too large for genuine leafing, without any flaws.

2. The Silverleaf sheets were too fragile to guarantee a perfect job.

3. The sheets, which tore very easily, had done so. Especially at certain corners.

4. Leafing was tedious-intensive work, that could not be rushed – eg. by a deadline.


Macy Stores’ executives opted for complete removal of the Silverleaf.


After removal of the Silverleafing…

…my job started.


First, I prepped the entire surface area to its original “new construction” condition.

Next, I primed both walls.

Last, I painted the walls in acrylic enamel. Very attractive. Not beautiful like the Silverleaf.


About my “Leafing”  experience… 


I’ve done small leafing applications – eg. silver, gold, copper. Examples: Columns, frames of murals, walls, furniture, mirror frames (small, large), trims, railings.


Each beautiful when completed. And, as each sheet and every section came out perfect, I was thrilled.




1. Use proper adhesive prep. – eg. Rabbit glue.

2. Use hair blow dryer to lay leaf down.

3. Make sure burnishing tools are polished.

4. Use Badger Hair mop or comb for brushing down leaf.

5. Make sure gilding pad stays firm, yet soft.

6. When applying a sealer or clear finish, use airbrush or detail spray cup gun.

7. Wear rubber-soled shoes to help eliminate static electricity.

8. Use an artificial leaf when speed and productivity are required – eg. commercial application.

9. When learning, compare application methods to see which one is easiest for you to perform.

10. Try leafing on ornamental object, with a smooth surface. This helps to diversify your capability.


Try these small “leafing” projects to get you started – and to learn the craft:


1. Wooden jewelry box

2. Candlesticks, or simple candelabra

3. Lamp base, or smaller mirror frame

4. Wood molding, chair rail, crown

5. Cabinetry molding – smooth surface, simple design and construction

6. Door or drawer knob or handle

7. Desk-top picture frame


“Leafing” is an art. A fantastic outlet for a painter’s finer creative aspirations.



No need to turn over a new leaf. Just cover a little surface of your life with Gold or Silver.


Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

HEAT ILLNESS: Special Life-Saving Prevention Tips for Painters. Part II




PLEASE DO: Before the prolonged hot, humid and full-sun season starts…

1. Get approval to adjust your uniform requirements, to fit extreme hot, humid, sunny conditions.

2. Get approval to adjust regular tasks and projects to minimize exposure to extreme conditions.

3. Get approval for a plan on how you will work in these extreme conditions when you must handle, or help resolve, property emergencies.


PLEASE DO: During prolonged hot, humid and full-sun season…

1. Schedule exterior painting during the coolest times of your work day.

Example A: Dawn-to-10 AM. Example B: 5 PM-to-dusk or dark, or later.


2. Plan to work on surfaces and areas opposite full-sun exposure.

Example A: West and north sides of buildings when sun is over east and south sides.

Example B: East and south sides of buildings when sun is on west and north sides.


3. When handling, or helping to resolve, any property emergency, follow your plan.

NOTE: There are times when exterior painting must be done immediately.


4. Wear clothing/uniforms made of fabric that (a) reflects sun and (b) allows sweat to evaporate.


5. Wear short, white painter’s pants when you must work in temperatures 90 degrees and higher. Regardless of the time period involved.


6. Wear a cap or hat with a visor, when working and/or walking in the sun. TIP: Wider is wiser.


7. Keep a drinking water supply with you at all times. TIP: Cool or cold. Avoid ice cold.


8. Carry packs of small snacks in your pocket. Examples: Walnuts/almonds, Peanut M&Ms, raisins, Trail mix, granola bars, energy bars.


9. Carry frozen ice pack in small cooler on your golf cart or pushcart. Stick in healthy snacks. Examples: V-8 or orange juice; apple, banana. Help to stabilize potassium, sodium, hydration, etc.


 BOTTOM LINE: The painter on duty must get his/her work done. One way or another.


Watch out for yourself when the heat and humidity start to climb. And, the full-sun sets in for an intense and long visit!


Help set the standard for others to watch out for themselves. And, to help pay it forward…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Learn and Live “Heat Illness” Free. Go to:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone, especially old coworkers and friends.
And, many thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

HEAT ILLNESS: Preparing-for-Prevention Tips for Painters. Part I



Heat illness is very dangerous, even deadly. Especially to workers that are exposed to excessive levels of heat, humidity, sun, and poor air supply/ventilation.


According to OSHA, “Employers have the responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from excessive heat (and humidity).”


As painters and decorators, we are our own best advocates in preventing heat illness on the job. We have the responsibility to become “heat illness savvy.” To know our own abilities and limits. To become aware of our teammates’ abilities and limits under the heat. And, to work smart!


NOW – during the cooler months – is the time:


1. to develop our own plan to prevent and treat on-the-job heat illness symptoms,

2. to determine how to handle our workload during the sustaining hot and humid months/season. In Florida: May through October.


NOW is the time to get the facts out about heat illness.


1. Talk about the 4 main types, and their symptoms, risks and warning signs, and, safety issues.

2. Publicize the illness locally – both in workplaces and throughout the community.

3. Orient everyone on the team and staff about what to look for. The need to be on the alert.

4. Train team members and staff what to do, when, and how. The need to respond promptly.

5. Commit to on-going heat illness awareness and advocacy at the workplace.




1. Know your body.

A. What is your tolerance level to heat, humidity, and sun exposure (direct and indirect)?

B. What are your exertion limits within that tolerance level?


2. Know your work environment.

A. What is the highest temperature range in which you must work during the hottest, most humid season? How many hours a day? How many days a week?

B. What is the actual temperature felt by your body? Hint: Add heat index to reported temp..

C. What is the longest period of time during a work day, that you must work continuously in that actual temperature? Example: 4 hours.

D. How many days during a week must you work continuously in the actual temperature?

E. What is the clean-air and ventilation level in your work area(s) on a continual basis? Rate it: excellent, good, fair, poor.


3. Know your job’s physical demands.

A. How many hours a day, in hot and humid conditions, must you exert yourself physically and continuously? How many days a week?

B. At how fast of a pace must you do your work? Rate: Very slowly-to-very fast.

C. For how long a period must you keep up that pace? Example: 45 minutes; Example: 2 hours.

D. How many breaks do you get, ordinarily, during your workday? Example: 2.

1) At what times, other than lunch, are you given scheduled breaks? No. of minutes? Where?

2) How many additional breaks are you allowed during workdays in hot, humid conditions?

3) How often can you take a break when hot and humid conditions exceed your tolerance level?


4. Know your physical limits in meeting the physical demands of the job.

A. How many pounds can you lift, carry or move at once, under mild weather conditions?

1) How many pounds under hot and humid conditions, without experiencing any symptoms?

2) Do you need to use a cart or other conveyance piece of equipment to move, carry or lift

B. How long can you climb and stand on a ladder under mild weather conditions?

1)How long under hot and humid conditions, without experiencing any symptoms?

C. How long and often can you bend/stoop/crouch within one hour, under mild conditions?

1) How long and often can you can do these, under hot and humid conditions? No symptoms?

D. How long can you stand and how far can you walk without resting, in mild conditions?

1) How long can you hold or carry anything that weighs your “pound limit,” without symptoms?

2) How long and how far under hot, humid conditions? Without experiencing symptoms?


5. Know what your first heat illness symptoms may be.

A. What have been your first heat illness symptoms in the past? List them on card; put in wallet.

B. How long had you been working in hot and humid conditions before any symptoms hit you?

C. What medical conditions do you have that could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms?

D. What medications do you take that could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms? Include over-the-counter products – eg. antihistamines, aspirins, nasal sprays.


Do you have a low tolerance level to hot-humid-poor ventilation environmental conditions?


If so, may I suggest…

1. Get checked out by your physician. Also, “Complete Metabolic Panel” and basic blood tests.

2. Avoid hot, humid, poorly ventilated, and intense full sun.

3. Work in cooler, shaded areas when extreme hot/humid conditions do exist in other areas.

4. Do not allow yourself to be placed in any situation that might cause, trigger and/or exacerbate your susceptibility to suffering heat illness symptoms.


READ: “Heat Illness: Special Work Day Life-Saving Prevention Tips for Painters. Part II”



Save a life from heat illness. Teammate, boss, guest, visitor. Yours!


 May you and yours enjoy a healthy, fulfilling and safe 2016.

And, thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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