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Archive for the ‘People make the difference’ Category

The Painter, Franzen, and Church Restorations

“ ‘Margret clung to the side of the overturned wood row boat. Knowing that her grip could not last much longer. Knowing that she would not make it. And the enraged waters of the North Sea would swallow her.

 

“ ‘Then, she felt a powerful hand grab her arm, and force her frozen hand from the boat’s rim. Encircling her chest. Then pulling her backward. Into the churning waves. Was she, in fact, being washed away? Or drowning?’ ”

 

These were the opening words of the true account written by the victim’s oldest brother, Franzen, in an e-mail to me. A native of Amsterdam, the third cousin was a “restoration painter of churches.”

 

“That’s why I became a painter of holy buildings,” he wrote. “To give thanks to the priest that saved my baby sister over thirty-two years ago.”

 

At a later date, Franzen took me on a virtual tour of the church in Bratislava, Slovakia that he’s been working on. It is a small structure, compared to the grand cathedral projects that he has completed in Europe and Canada. And, it holds a significant place in the painter’s life, perhaps in mine also. The church is the home parish of a group of Haytovkas originally from old Austria.

 

“Presently, I sandblast the upper spires on the roof. There are twelve of them, representing the twelve apostles. I push to finish spray before the heavy snows come. It is dangerous part,” the painter emphasized. “So high from the ground, over 4419 cm (145 feet) up. One slip of the foot. I worry. Then I remember Margret. The arms that saved her…”

 

Franzen said the upper exterior of the church had not been touched in over forty years.

 

“The surfaces were pitted by thick, pebble-looking layers of grime and pollutants from the large manufacturing plant located less than 1.6 kilometers (one mile) away. Underneath, most of the paint was chipped off. Brass was badly tarnished, and coated with sea salts and bird droppings.

 

“It was in much worse condition than the church officials believed. Much removal and repair work…”

 

Franzen said that he has been doing restorative painting since age twenty-six. Previously, he worked for a contractor that repaired and redecorated older homes, apartment buildings, shops, and large flats. My cousin explained that most of the properties were “…owned by the rich.”

 

For two years prior, he “studied the painting craft” at a trade school run by the Netherlands government. He called the training very intense.

 

“This church will be my last high project. I will be fifty-nine in December. My feet are not quite as sure as they were. I make plans to retire at sixty. Muriel and I take Gordon to cottage by sea.”

 

By the way, Franzen and his wife are caregivers for their son Gordon (28). He has severe traumatic brain injuries from a work accident in 2009.

Something tells me that both Gordon and the historic church structure, built over 250 years ago, are in very good hands.

 

Point to Ponder: A true craftsman preserves the lives of impaired persons and old buildings with equal dedication and selflessness.

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Paintshop: Decorative Painting Brushes and Tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DECORATIVE PAINTING TOOLS in PHOTO ABOVE.*

 

No. 1. Steel combs. Uses: Dragging, wood graining.

No. 2. Palette knife. Uses: Mixing artist’s acrylics or oils; scraping away paint, glaze in areas.

No. 3. Dragging Brush/overgrainer. Features: natural bristles one side, thick nylon bristles other.

No. 4. Badger-hair Brush. Uses: Smoothing oil glaze.

No. 5. Long-haired Spalter. Size 80. Uses: Smoothing oil glaze.

No. 6. Short-haired Spalter. Size 100. Uses Applying oil glaze, then smoothing it.

Nos. 7-8. Small Spalter/Mottlers. Sizes 40, 50. Uses: Wood graining, smoothing oil glaze.

Nos. 9-10. Toothed Spalters. Special oil brushes. Uses: Wood graining.

Nos. 11-12. Small, flat Brush/white nylon. Uses:Marbling, touch-ups, freehand painting acrylics.

No. 13. Small pointed round Brush/white bristles. Uses: Touch-ups, thicker veining marbling techniques with acrylics.

No. 14. Flat long-haired Brush/nylon. Uses: Marbling, fine detailing in acrylics.

No. 15. Long-haired Brush/nylon. Uses: Marbling with acrylics.

No. 16. Small pointed Brush/nylon. Uses Fine veining when marbling with acrylics.

No. 17. Long-haired Ox-Hair Brush. Uses: Marbling, woodgraining, freehand script and ornamentation (lines of varying thicknesses). TIP: Best with oils.

Nos. 18-19. Flat, White Bristle Brush. Uses: Marbling, woodgraining, corner touch-ups with oil-or-water-based paints.

No. 20. Flat long-haired Badget Lettering Brush. Uses: Marblig, freehand painting. TIP: Oils.

No. 21. Ox-hair Sign Painter’s Brush. Features: Long-hair cut flat at end. Uses: Marbling, freehand (for clean edges) in oils or acrylics.

Nos. 22-24. Stencil Brush. Feature: White bristles, slightly softer. Uses: With oils or acrylics.

No. 25. Round/oval thick nylon Brush. Uses: Spattering; coating thin, curved surfaces.

No. 26. Flat nylon Brush. Uses: Paint latex base coat, also acrylic glazes; baseboards, chiseling.

No. 27. Angled nylon Brush/nylon. A better quality brush. “Pre-used” in factory, leaves fewer marks. Uses: Latex painting, cutting in lines, hard-to-reach surfaces.

No. 28. Small flat, long-haired Brush/white bristles Uses: Oil paints.

No. 29. Flat 2 1/2–inch Brush/white bristles. Uses: Oil-base coating; squared-off ends; general purpose; precision edges,/trims.

Nos. 30-32. Round Bristles/white. Uses: Oil glazing; oil-based painting. TIP: Use separate brushes for separate functions.

No. 33. Well-worn round Brush. Uses: Stirring paints.

 


Decorative painting can create warm, personal spaces from bland, contemporary walls. It can create focal points out of any surface such as doors, trim, woodwork, even ceilings. It can create masterful heirlooms from worn, discarded furniture. It can transform jeweled and gold-leafed treasures from thrift shop and yard sale finds.

 

Decorative painting – creating the “right surfaces” – can make a room, area or piece come alive.

 

  1. Underscore or downplay its assets, and camouflage its drawbacks.
  2. Add new life, a new feel.
  3. Blend the old with the new – family antiques with store bargains.
  4. Make newer surfaces appear very aged, hundred-to-centuries old.
  5. Create a special, and different, touch with every applications, every tool on every surface.

 

With decorative painting, you can create a signature piece from every piece.

Decorative painting differs from standard interior painting in three distinct ways:

 

  1. Paints used. On top of two layers of interior paint, you apply two thin coats of transparent paint – “Glaze” – that you mix, then tint to the desired hue.
  2. Colors. At the heart of decorative painting, especially when carefully chosen and properly mixed. Produced by blending wet paints on palette, then placing translucent layers atop an opague base/ Result: Resonance, depth, a subtle glow as mixing.
  3. Pattern. The way you apply glaze contributes to uniqueness of each application. Using a wide array of tools, multiple shapes and sizes. You manipulate the glaze while wet to form patterns or different broken-color effects (eg. ragging, combing, sponging, flogging).

 

Decorative painting calls for creativity, skill, and patience. It alls for paint and finishing products that suit the surface and areas. It calls for the appropriate tools to achieve the desired pattern, texture, finish, and effect.

 

IS DECORATIVE PAINTING A GOOD OPTION FOR A SURFACE WHERE YOU PAINT?

 

Are guests of your hotel ready for unique surroundings and surface embellishments?

Are the patients and staff of your hospital looking for alternatives to the opague paint colors on the walls and in public areas?

Are your commercial clients seeking a personalized alternative to wallpaper?

Or, does your private customer want something other than the area rug to dress up a wood floor?

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* Photo and descriptions from: Recipe for Surfaces: Decorating Paint Finishes Made Simple. Text by Mindy Drucker and Pierre Finkelstein.** Photographs by Tony Cenicola. Copyright 1993, Quarto Inc., Fireside Books, Simon and Schuster, N.Y., pp. 42-43.

Mindy Drucker is a freelance writer, specializing in design and home decoration topics. Pierre Finkelstein is a master decorative painter. He is recognized worldwide for his skill in applying standard, matching existing and creating custom finishes. Born in Paris, he owns Grand Illusion Decorative Painting, Inc., New York City.

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“Painting with Bob” appreciates that you are following.
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Why People Like Flight Captains Sullenberger and Skiles Matter

Last night I watched the movie, “Sully,” on DVD. It’s based on the heroic story of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles, co-captains of the New York to Charlotte Flight 1549. Their miraculous belly landing of the US Airways jet on January 15, 2009, afloat the Hudson River, and the preservation of 155 precious lives still raises a lot of interest. And concerns.

 

What struck me was the courage, commitment and calm that both men showed after their hair-raising experience. The way that they handled themselves when being forced to defend their decision before a roomful of 70-plus National Transportation Safety Board, airline, legal, and even pilots union investigators.

 

Sullenberger’s and Skile’s clear-thinking and precise account of the second-by-second steps that they took re-demonstrated they did the right thing. They did the only thing available to two men of such character. Two men that cared so much for human life.

 

A FEW QUESTIONS FOR US TO ASK OURSELVES…

 

  1. How many of us, when pushed against the wall, would face a huge firing squad of big-shot “bosses”?
  2. How many of us would stand our ground, and force these power moguls to scrutinize their own expertise, calculations and conclusions? And then to correct their decision?
  3. How many of us would stand firm, and defend our values, our principles, against all odds?

 

Sullenberger’s and Skiles’s heroic landing, then their courageous defense of their decision, remain close to our family’s heart.

 

Charles “Chuck” Basham flew for Eastern Airlines for over 30 years. His wife, “Mindie,” my mother’s cousin, was a stewardess with Eastern for over ten years. In fact, that’s how Chuck and Mindie met.

 

Anyway, Chuck flew bombers in World War II. When he came home to the U.S., Eastern snatched him up because of his steel-strong nerves. His ability to fly in, through, under, and around any crisis. And survive!

 

The theory of major airline owners back in the 1940s and 1950s? If you could handle a military plane in war conditions, you could handle a commercial plane in friendly skies.

 

Still, Chuck could share stories of several very close calls that he had flying the New York to Miami run.

 

One concerned a near in-flight collision with another jet airplane, that was experiencing mechanical problems. Another concerned a severe lighting storm, 20,000 feet over the Atlantic coastline. A third concerned a near side-swipe by a large corporation-owned Cessna.

 

In each of these situations, Chuck had to face a review board similar to that faced by Sullenberger and Skiles.

 

“It was never easy to do. But it was necessary,” he said, “to get them to set the record straight.”

 

Chuck showed the same calmness and clear head on the ground. After he retired.

 

In 1993, he and Mindie opened their doors and provided a safe place for my sister to stay. For as long as she needed. They put their Fort Lauderdale intercoastal home, and themselves, at great risk in doing so.

 

Without a doubt, they saved my sister’s life, physically and psychologically.

 

It’s twenty-four years later. Both Chuck and Mindie are gone. My sister survives. And, thanks to the courage and quick-thinking of those skilled in-flight relatives, our entire family has enjoyed a much longer life together.

 

And, as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger stated, at the end of the film, to a group of the real-life Flight 1549 survivors, in a hangar in 2016, that’s what it was really about. All of the spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that had survived, too.

 

Thank you, flight captains and crews, that do your best to keep us safe in-plane, in-flight, and on-the-ground. And against some odds that even you never talk about. To anyone!

 

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Stay safe, everyone. And, do your part, to live safe, too. RDH

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Many thanks for checking in at “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Franzen: Restoring Churches and Lives

“ ‘Margret clung to the side of the overturned wood row boat. Knowing that her grip could not last much longer. Knowing that she would not make it. And the enraged waters of the North Sea would swallow her.

 

“ ‘Then, she felt a powerful hand grab her arm, and force her frozen hand from the boat’s rim. Encircling her chest. Then pulling her backward. Into the churning waves. Was she, in fact, being washed away? Or drowning?’ ”

 

These were the opening words of the true account written by the victim’s oldest brother, Franzen, in an e-mail to me. A native of Amsterdam, the third cousin was a “restoration painter of churches.”

 

“That’s why I became a painter of holy buildings,” he wrote. “To give thanks to the priest that saved my baby sister over thirty-two years ago.”

 

At a later date, Franzen took me on a virtual tour of the church in Bratislava, Slovakia that he’s been working on. It is a small structure, compared to the grand cathedral projects that he has completed in Europe and Canada. And, it holds a significant place in the painter’s life, perhaps in mine also. The church is the home parish of a group of Haytovkas originally from old Austria.

 

“Presently, I sandblast the upper spires on the roof. There are twelve of them, representing the twelve apostles. I push to finish spray before the heavy snows come. It is dangerous part,” the painter emphasized. “So high from the ground, over 4419 cm (145 feet) up. One slip of the foot. I worry. Then I remember Margret. The arms that saved her…”

 

Franzen said the upper exterior of the church had not been touched in over forty years.

 

“The surfaces were pitted by thick, pebble-looking layers of grime and pollutants from the large manufacturing plant located less than 1.6 kilometers (one mile) away. Underneath, most of the paint was chipped off. Brass was badly tarnished, and coated with sea salts and bird droppings.

 

“It was in much worse condition than the church officials believed. Much removal and repair work…”

 

Franzen said that he has been doing restorative painting since age twenty-six. Previously, he worked for a contractor that repaired and redecorated older homes, apartment buildings, shops, and large flats. My cousin explained that most of the properties were “…owned by the rich.”

 

For two years prior, he “studied the painting craft” at a trade school run by the Netherlands government. He called the training very intense.

 

“This church will be my last high project. I will be fifty-nine in December. My feet are not quite as sure as they were. I make plans to retire at sixty. Muriel and I take Gordon to cottage by sea.”

 

By the way, Franzen and his wife are caregivers for their son Gordon (28). He has severe traumatic brain injuries from a work accident in 2009.

 

Something tells me that both Gordon and the historic church structure, built over 250 years ago, are in very good hands.

With equal dedication and selflessness, a true craftsman preserves the lives of impaired persons and old buildings.

Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Welcome to Palmer’s Hotel for Children!

The Palmers lived in a 20-plus room, white-framed house at the edge of Valparaiso, Indiana. Its three-story structure stood at the top of a long, hilly lane surrounded by tall, sturdy shade trees. (Perfect for climbing, by the way.) At least three dormers rose from both the front and back sides of the roof.

 

Seven days a week, the place became “Palmer’s Hotel for Children.” And, it served as a fun and safe place to “visit” for young people between 3 months and 13 years of age.

 

The “Palmer’s Hotel” had every amenity that a child could possibly wish for:

 

  1. Huge, grassy back yard with lots of room to roam.
  2. Dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, goat, lamb, ponies.
  3. Swing sets and Jungle Jims.
  4. Roomy, enclosed tree house with two sturdy ladders, with deep and generous steps.
  5. Basketball hoops, small softball diamond, badmitten net, crochet sets.
  6. Moveable play house.
  7. Vegetable garden and strawberry patch.
  8. Fruit trees and berry bushes: apple, peach, apricot; blueberry, blackberry, raspberry.
  9. Grape arbor.
  10. Two large plastic wading pools and long garden hose for hot days of summer.
  11. Small wagons, carts, tricycles, 2-wheel bikes.
  12. Two sandboxes.
  13. Games and more games.
  14. Boys and girls toy chests and stuffed animal baskets.

 

Oh, did I mention food? Sandwiches (your choice of filling and bread-spread); veggie sticks, homemade cookies, juices.

 

Of course, “Palmer’s” best amenity was Mr. and Mrs. Palmer. The adopted grandparents that every child would dream up for himself or herself.

 

The biggest treat was staying over night. My sister and I got to do that only four or five times. Usually, while our parents attended a special Saturday evening function, in the community or in Chicago.

What was so great about a sleep-over?

 

Saturday nights were party time at the Palmer’s Hotel for Children.

 

  1. Walt Disney movies, board games, card games, floor games.
  2. Huge bowls of freshly-popped corn setting on every table.
  3. Choices of fruit juices and Kool Aid flavors.
  4. Home-made Kool-Aid Popsicles.
  5. Ice cream and cake or cookies to celebrate a child guest’s birthday.
  6. Cozy-like, dorm-style sleeping space – including a doll or teddy bear if you needed one.
  7. Pals – other guests – to play with.
  8. Lots of arts and crafts supplies to make things to take home.

 

One Saturday afternoon, Mr. Palmer wanted to talk with my dad when he dropped off my sister and me. Mr. Palmer asked Dad to come by at a later date, and give him an estimate on painting the exterior of that huge house.

 

My dad offered to volunteer a paint crew to do the job. The terms: Mr. Palmer would purchase the main paint supplies. And, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer would feed the crew some lunch on paint day.

 

The date was scheduled. I got to go along and “carry water” to the men. We all ate lunch at the picnic tables where we children ate our snacks when we were “visiting.”

 

Silently, I promised that, once I could drive, I’d go by The Palmer’s Hotel and volunteer to help out with their young guests. (I did several times.)

 

Silently, I promised that, when grown up, I’d go by and volunteer my adult skills to help out once in a while. (I did once.)

 

Eventually, I entered the IBPAT apprenticeship program, and began my painting career. I promised that I’d go by and volunteer my painting skills and crew to repaint the Palmer’s Hotel for Children.

 

It was that great of a place. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer were that great of a couple. Final Note: By the time I started painting for a contractor, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer had closed down their hotel for children. And, they had retired.

 

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All grown up now? Who can you help that enriched your life as a child?

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob” today.
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: While Trump and Clinton Talked about Eradicating Gang High-Crime Rates in Chicago…

I shared this true story with Celebrating Chicago Cubs Friends…

 

Friday Morning, Northwest Chicago – My mother was trying to convince an inventor client on the image benefits to his business in getting the exterior of his shop painted. The building looked like an abandoned barn in the middle of another bankrupted farm’s field.

 

Mom and Jerry stood at the open overhead doorway of his loading dock. It faced the alley. Walking in that alley were eight or nine members of a notorious gang. They wore black leather jackets with a dragon emblem on the back, tight blue jeans, knee-high black leather boots with noisy cleats, also bandanas and black leather caps.

 

To Mom’s surprise, her client called the group over as they passed the loading dock. He offered them the job of painting the barn-like, two-story building. Bigger surprise: They took him up on the offer.

 

Promptly, Jerry jotted down a list of the materials and supplies they’d need. He handed the leader 2-one-hundred dollar bills. And, he sent them to the nearest paint store, located three blocks west on West Grand Boulevard. He offered them his car keys to bring everything back; but they refused.

 

TWO FRIDAYS LATER…

 

My mother had an appointment to deliver the draft of a project contract proposal to Jerry. She pulled her auto up to the curb in front of his property. As she walked past the side of the house, toward the job, his wife darted out of the back door.

 

“What do you think?” She smiled. “They did a terrific job, even on the carved trim around the dormers and porches. This house hasn’t looked this good since it was built in the 1950s…”

 

Come to find out: The infamous gang had painted the exteriors of both the large, 2-story house, and the shop. And, they looked superb!

 

MOTHER’S BIGGEST SURPRISE…

 

Upstairs, in Jerry’s shop, worked nine black leather jacketed young-young adults. Members of a different notorious Chicago gang, associated with the Hells Angels. (Remember hearing about them?)

 

The group was busy packing shipping boxes with plastic-wrapped, soft-fabric insulated hot/cold tote bags for foods and beverages. Jerry’s inventions in the 1970s. Note: Most of the prototypes were stolen away, initially, by a woman to whom he’d given a job to help her get back on her feet. Talk about crime!

 

Anyway, Jerry had given temporary jobs to the “teen hoods. “ The scourge of society. “The no good hoods.” They’d been on the job three previous days that week, putting in seven hours. Free pizza lunches and two “junk food” breaks included each day.

 

That scene in his shop was not a new one. The man was just as well known for his giving jobs to notorious gang members, as they were for robbing, stealing and threatening every other business place in the area.

 

Frankly, both Trump’s and Clinton’s camps could have learned a lot from people like Jerry, about eradicating major gangland crime in big cities like Chicago.

 

Gutsy people that put themselves out there. Inventive people who offer doable alternatives, not ineffective and stupid threats to well-connected gang members.

 

Before the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians game on November 2,  2016, I was watching “campaign clips” for both Trump and Clinton.

 

“Bob,” my mother commented, “high gangland crime in cities gets derailed by people like Jerry. Not by politicians, laws and the courts.”

 

I agreed. An image of a black leather jacketed gang member in Osceola County, Florida, flashed in and out of my brain. We “met” when I spotted him making a drug sale directly outside the men’s restroom inside the local public library. He still completed the sale, then casually walked upstairs and sat in front of a public computer.

 

People on the front lines – on the streets – almost always know the better solutions to problems that politicians tend to talk a lot about. During presidential campaigns especially. Why is that?

 

Are we paying the wrong people to eradicate high level, gangland crime?

 

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob” – especially as we head into a new, and unprecedented, leadership and constituency relationship!
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Kathy’s Creative Carpeting Solution

Kathy U. needed new living room carpeting. With five active children and a busy contractor husband, the stone-fireplaced area took a beating.

 

Big problem: The family’s budget couldn’t cover that size of expense.

 

Challenge: So, the Porter County artist, homemaker and volunteer got creative!

 

Solution: Basically, here’s how Kathryn re-carpeted the room with a Currier & Ives picturesque view of the countryside.

 

  1. She selected a basic patchwork quilt color scheme.
  2. She designed a simple block pattern of squares and rectangles.
  3. For months, she haunted area carpet stores, warehouses, installation companies, etc. and purchased, or was given, over 150 remnants with similar fibers, weaves and backing
  4. She sorted the remnants by color-hue family, into large separate cardboard boxes.
  5. Next, she laid the pieces onto the bare floor, by this time stripped of the original worn carpeting. She paid close attention to placing colors and pieces so they complemented each other. And, their weaves all went in the exact same direction.
  6. Settling on the color-pieces arrangement, she consulted with the family. “Yes,” they agreed. It was a “GO, Mom!”
  7. Starting at one corner, she turned over each piece and wrote a number on its backing.
  8. Based on each remnant’s size, she drew a grid on the room’s floor space, using a carpenter’s pencil.
  9. On grid paper – 1-inch equals 1 foot – she transferred her remnant pattern. Inside each block on the grid paper, she wrote (a) its length and width and (b) number of remnant to fit there.
  10. She purchased many spools of heavy carpet thread through a carpet installation business.
  11. Starting at the far, lowest traffic corner of the floor, she replaced each numbered remnant on its matching numbered grid block. She made certain that the weave/grain of all pieces went in the same direction.
  12. On the backing of each piece, she drew its grid measurements, allowing a ¾-inch “seam” on each side.
  13. Using a carpet cutter, she spliced each remnant along the marked cutting lines.
  14. As she cut each piece, she replaced it to its numbered spot on the gridded floor.
  15. After all pieces had been cut and laid out, she double-checked for proper dimensions, color conformity, and weave direction. (See no. 11 above.)
  16. Over a period of six months, she hand-stitched the carpet pieces together. Note: A very tough job. Kathy said it was “hard on the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, and back!”
  17. Word leaked out about the woman’s unique creative project: the hand-sewn patch quilt carpet. Area media took photos of the newly carpeted room, and published or aired stories on Kathryn U.
  18. Friends, neighbors and relatives appeared for the open house when Kathryn unveiled the beautiful hand-stitched, wall-to-wall carpet.

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Necessity may be the mother of invention, but a creative soul is the mother of true art.

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Thank you for taking a pause to visit “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016, 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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