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Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category

The Pianist, The Painter, The Singer, The Statesman

Periodically, my mother’s interior design class toured Chicago area properties.

On one, day-long tour, they visited three luxury homes that set on Evanston’s high bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan.

One home featured fine examples of classic contemporary design: simple lines, solid colors, smooth finishes, subtle textures, geometric patterns, and sleek woods, tiles, glass, and chrome.

From its trimly landscaped and broadly sweeping circle driveway, to the double set of solid red lacquer front doors, to the nine-foot main hallway that trailed through the house, to the four glass doors at the rear, that overlooked the lake.

The sprawling, one-story structure suited its owners: a concert pianist and conductor, and his wife, an artist and author.

The music room stood out. Its two most striking amenities: the magnificent black lacquer Steinway concert piano and the 12-inch square, black and white marble tiles that covered the floor.

Features also included the following:

1. dome ceiling with a huge globular skylight;
2. solid black marble fireplace;
3. two walls lined with white-enameled bookcases, stuffed with books, bound volumes of sheet music, also wood and ivory artifacts;
4. couches and easy chairs upholstered in matching white-on-white striped damask.

All of the other sixteen rooms featured equally elegant, yet comfortable appointments. It was a home that clearly represented the personalities of the owners, and met their needs perfectly.

Shortly before the design school students’ visit, the owners had decided to retire in that house. And, they’d put their South Florida home up for sale.

Nearly twenty years after touring that home, my mother was led into the luxury apartment of a former opera star, Adeline Arrigo. Interestingly, she had performed with the concert pianist on philharmonic stages throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Madame Arrigo resided on the second story of a red brick, three-story walk-up built in the early 1900s by her husband’s Sicilian family. The South Racine Avenue building, located on the southeast side of Chicago, set across the street from University of Illinois’s Chicago campus. And, the three-story building had five large apartments – all occupied by “Arrigos.”

The focal points of the two bedroom apartment were the portraits of Adeline and her husband, the late Victor Arrigo. On every wall, every shelf and every table top were representations of the owners famous lives. Adeline, the opera star. Victor, the Illinois statesman that drafted, then championed the Federal Fair Credit and Collection Act. (Note: A stronger version of the law is in effect today.)

The traditional apartment also featured:

1. 12-foot high, white-sponged stucco ceilings;
2. white plaster, also deep red painted, walls;
3. tall wood-paned windows in each of the eight rooms;
4. white marble, wood-burning fireplaces in three rooms;
5. crystal chandeliers;
6. lustrous hardwood floors; and,
7. large oriental area rugs depicting eighteenth century country scenes.

The apartment was appointed with elegant, yet comfortable seating in every room. In the living room: deep red velvet-upholstered sofas, and black leather fireside chairs. In the bedrooms: European-designed settees and chairs, covered in deeper pink or soft rose moiré. Plush velvet upholstery covered the dining room chairs. And hand-sewn satin, moiré, and crushed velvet pillows set on every piece of seating.

The two distinctive period homes – the sprawling contemporary house of the 1960s-1970s, and the large traditional apartment of the 1940s-1950s – provided a very similar peak into elegant yet understated living. In their respective spaces, the owners and residents had created environments that supported their need for creative thought, good taste, peace and contentment. All had surrounded themselves with meaningful symbols of who they were as persons. And, what they represented.

The Chicago area featured many architectural and design masterpieces. I never had the privilege to visit the residences described above. Yet, I have had the opportunity to work on many similar homes. In doing so, the greatest pleasure has been in meeting the unique persons that have lived there.

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Fine design deserves to be preserved with the hand of a fine painter-craftsperson.
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

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WHY PAINT?

Artist Bob Ross used to say, “Painting should not be agony.”

I agree.

Over the years, I’ve met and/ or worked with construction industry painters that fit into one of these categories:

1. Some painters loved what they were doing; and it showed in their work, and their attitude about life.

Example: “Bob, the Painter,” my father, smiled a lot on the job. And often he stopped to admire others’ workmanship… to watch a bird in a nearby tree…to double check his own work.

2. Some painters, overall, liked to paint, and seemed to be fine with the likelihood that they’d be doing it for years in the future.

Example: Jesse hummed on the job… drank, and tried to share, cantaloupe juice made by his wife… took on any task that needed to be done.

3. Some painters liked to paint and did a good job; but they wanted to do something else career-wise, and to earn a living.

Example: Larry and Wayne wanted much more independence than a foreman painter had. So both went into contracting, and demonstrated that they were okay with the added responsibility that entrepreneurship required.

4. Some painters really didn’t like to paint; but they lacked the will, nerve and resources to try anything else.

Example: “W” dreamed of doing something where he could visit more with others on the job, and get paid for it. But, he had no real support system in the U. S. to help him try something new.

5. Then there were a few painters that had an intense dislike for painting, and much associated with the trade. And, increasingly, they demonstrated their disdain and discomfort.

Example: W.R. complained about everything, it seemed. He showed up intoxicated… violated safety rules…put crew members at risk…misused products.

What each of those painters knew about their jobs was complemented, or contradicted, by their respective attitudes about painting, and their own lives.

Which painter would you like to work with on a regular basis?

Into which category do you think that others might place you?

Into which category do you believe that you really fit?

Something to think about, right?

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Whatever you do for a living, including painting, give it your 100 percent at least 85 percent of the time. The remaining 15 percent? Take a good look at how you’re doing, and why.
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

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.

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.

Decorative Finishing: The Lacquer Table

My childhood home had been an antique shop previously, in the 1950s and early 1960s.

 

Luxurious oriental wallpaper – black silk textured panels – still covered the walls of the largest room. An elegantly dressed Geisha knelt in the center of one of the panels, bordered in etched goldleafing.

 

All of the wallpaper was faded and worn from age. Each panel bore the signs of water damage.

 

On the longest wall was depicted a Teahouse scene. A dainty china tea service set on the low, glass-smooth black lacquer table. For seating, large silk-covered pillows were arranged on the floor. Rice paper sliding door panels could be seen in the background.

 

I did my homework, seated in a red-enameled, round-backed cane chair. Pulled up to a restored circa 1940s oblong, drop leaf table. My wandering eyes floated toward that Teahouse scene. Specifically, the lacquered table.

 

I promised myself that I’d decorate my first dining room in the oriental style.

 

In my early 20s, the inspiration came to design and build a small Oriental table, out of ebony wood.

To get the perfect black, lustrous finish, I applied nine coats of Glidden’s high-gloss enamel. Each coat was allowed to set and “cure,” at least four hours. Then, I did a light and thorough damp feather sanding with No. 1000 sandpaper. Followed by a complete surface “wipe,” using a barely damp, soft muslin cloth.

 

In 2010, the need for a laptop computer table motivated me to build a “lap table” sized version of that lacquer table. I did not apply as many coats of the black, high-gloss finish enamel, because of the lack of workshop space. And, the curing/drying time between coats was reduced – according to outdoor environmental conditions.

 

The mystique remained for the sleek, elegant oriental décor. Yet, a deeper appreciation for the natural in furniture finishing, refinishing, and restoration work had taken over.

 

In early 2013, a couple from Asia stayed at the hotel for over ten days. They were purchasing a second home in Celebration. They showed me two photos of a badly abused, 52-inch square table that came with the house.

 

The couple wanted to shorten the oak table, to 20-inches in height. Then, they wanted to refinish the table. To a mirror-smooth black lacquer. They wanted to do the entire project themselves. With a little guidance from me.

 

The husband and wife team turned out to be very talented. And handy with tools – painting, decorative finishing, and power.

 

One day after work, we met at their new house. A sprawling two-story, with many porches and balconies.

Using a level and steel ruler, we measured and marked the table legs for shortening. By my next visit, the couple had sawed down the legs. Also, they’d carefully cleaned and sanded every inch of the table.

 

At their request, we actually video-cammed the basic procedure:

 

  1. Repairing the table’s cracks, gouges, splinters, etc.
  2. Filling and smoothing out all surface imperfections.
  3. Dry and moist sanding the surfaces multiple times.
  4. Applying a very thin white sealer/primer.
  5. Applying five of the nine finish coats – with very fine, and gentle, sanding between each.

 

By the time the couple applied the fifth finish coat themselves, my job was completed. They had mastered the finishing process, at a high, non-professional level.

 

I never saw the finished Lacquer table. Until June of 2015. The couple and I spotted each other at a Home Depot. They invited me to their home the following week.

 

Upon my arrival, they urged me to take a very close look at their work.

 

“What a beautiful job!” I excitedly told them. And it was!

 

At their beautiful table, they served tea and homemade shortbread wafers, on a set of hand-painted china.

 

By the way, the Lacquer table sets in the middle of their traditional, oriental dining room. In their traditional, oriental decorated home.

 

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Some of the best decorative finishing is done by the most surprising craftspersons.

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Thank you, Tau Hong and Sum Li.

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

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

Renovating It: 108-Room Hotel

Cousins in the Indianapolis area purchased a 108-room hotel that needed a complete renovation. Structurally, both buildings were solid. No rotting, cracks, holes, breaks, etc.

 

The improvements could be made in stages. So the new owners decided to follow the wild suggestion of the drywall foreman under the construction management company:

 
“Replace nothing that still works, or can be restored. Unless it does not meet code…”

 

STAGE ONE: Bringing the entire property up to code.

 

This has required a large outlay of capital.

  1. New roof on the two building.
  2. New plumbing (copper tubing.
  3. New wiring, switches, sockets, plugs.
  4. Replacement of all A/C window units, and repair and rebuilding of main A/C systems on roofs.
  5. Replacement of stair and corridor steel railings and banisters.
  6. Resurfacing of pool and replacement of heaters.
  7. New security system, including videocam surveillance and computer systems.
  8. Replacement of one half of all wall joists and drywall in each front office.
  9. Replacement of two-thirds of all wall joists and drywall in each of seventy guest rooms.
  10. Repair and replacement of kitchen equipment.

 

STAGE TWO: Getting the hotel ready for occupancy.

  1. New carpeting in guest rooms and all public areas.
  2. Ceramic tile cleaning, repairing and polishing in 108 guest baths.
  3. New wi-fi wiring and routing system.
  4. Furniture repair and refurbishment in all guest rooms and public areas.
  5. Cabinetry and counter repair and re-laminating in all guest rooms.
  6. Fixture cleaning and restoration in all guest rooms, public areas and meeting rooms.
  7. Landscape revitalizations: clearing out, pruning, replanting, etc.
  8. Re-asphalting, striping and marking of parking and no-parking areas.

 

STAGE THREE: Repainting and refinishing of all exterior and interior surfaces.

  1. Cleaning and repairing of al wood and concrete surfaces.
  2. Prepping all surfaces: filling, patching, sanding, etc.
  3. Priming all metal surfaces, new lumber, bare metal, and stripped surfaces.
  4. Priming all new drywall and floating seams between new and existing drywall sections.
  5. Spray painting exterior walls, floors, doors, etc.
  6. Spray varnishing and clear coating all exterior wood decking, benches, built-in seating, fences, railings, signage frames, etc.
  7. Brushing or rolling of all fascia and trims.
  8. Popcorn spraying interior ceilings of front lobby, halls, offices, restaurant, public rooms, and meeting rooms.
  9. Spray painting all interior ceilings, walls, doors and trim in guest rooms and public areas.
  10. Brushing/rolling interior trim, wainscoting, baseboard, etc.
  11. Refinishing all wood cabinetry, shelving, mirror frames.
  12. Refinishing all wood furniture in public areas, also restaurant and two meeting rooms.

 

STAGE FOUR: Decorative finishing and covering of select areas.

  1. Marbleizing tops of tables in lobby, office reception area, meeting rooms’ central lounge.
  2. Installing wallpaper on back rotunda wall of front desk area.
  3. Faux finishing one wall in each bathroom of front office wing.
  4. Installing commercial grade wall vinyl in all public restrooms.
  5. Installing Indy-500 3-D scenic mural on main corridor of wall entering restaurant.

 

The 108-room hotel will reopen on November 1, 2017, in time for the holidays.

 

Several new, alluring amenities will grace the premises:

  1. Cyber library and graphics studio.
  2. Children’s WI -FI, 3-D “Pit Stop” studio.
  3. Self-service snack/night bar = foods, non-alcoholic beverages.
  4. Self-service laundry and dry cleaning center.
  5. Enclosed meditation flower garden and bird and butterfly sanctuary.

 

Terry, the oldest of the cousins in this new venture, becomes very animated when he talks about the hotel. At 54, he says that he has been learning many new lessons during “this exciting process.”

 

A few facts: Approximate cost of Stages 1-3: $2.1 million:

 

Construction management company: Over 30 years hotel/resort renovation experience.

Subcontractors: Selected per industry recommendations. No bidding.

Project tradespersons: All hired through respective local union offices.

New staff painter/decorator: Selected from painting crews that have worked on the project.

 

Question: How many other smaller hotels need a fresh, new start in life?

 

My belief: Older commercial properties hold just as much promise as older houses.

 

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Revitalizing and reusing older properties and structures deserves more of our attention.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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

Painting It: The Fast and Easy Way

Just to clarify things: Easy and fast is not necessarily the most recommended way to paint something. However, for everyone, we sometimes want things to go a little easier or to happen a little quicker.

 

Painting is no different. By taking some precautions, we can guarantee some degree of quality, no matter how fast or easy the work is. Having the right amount of skill is usually the ticket.

 

There are any number of items that can be painted the easy way, and as fast as you might want to complete them. Example: Using an airless spray system, I once prime finished just under 3000 linear feet of molding in less than an hour. When calculated using a brush and/or roller, it would have taken the entire day. Yes, a high level of productivity can be achieved daily, depending on the situation.

 

A FEW PREP-LEVEL TIPS

 

  1. Make an assessment of the project.
  2. Determine the steps needed to complete the project. The general rule is: The fewer steps there are, the easier it will be to complete. And, you will be finished in no time.
  3. Next, evaluate how difficult it will be to complete each step. Example: To paint a louvered door, you must (a) sand each piece of wood or metal as the case may be, (b) dust the surface, and (c) apply the paint using your chosen method. Here, the process of sanding can slow the paint process down quite a bit. It would be no big deal, if all you had to do was paint it.

 

So, how can you make a job easy, or develop a faster way of doing it? Let’s take the easy part of it first. You might want to follow the steps below.

 

  1. Answer this question: What is the largest size brush to use for painting this surface? A 1-inch brush is used for detail and glass framework. A 4-inch brush is used for flat, open wall areas and wide trim such as crown molding. Determine which one’s best suited for you and the job.

 

  1. When selecting a roller system: Relate the viscosity of the paint to the type of surface. Applying paint with a roller is easiest if the paint spreads smoothly, and you don’t have to dip the roller every five seconds. Example: Use a 3/8 inch roller cover when painting brick or concrete block. And, you will fight it the entire time.

 

  1. What can be easier than using a spray gun? Assess the surface and which spray tip is the most appropriate to apply the paint evenly. For those of you familiar with tip sizes, a 3-11 is best suited for trim painting and multiple small objects. It is possible to work yourself to death painting large wall spaces with a small tip. Recommendation: A 4-17 or 5-21 are the optimum choices here.

 

 Now: How can you paint this faster than, say, the last time? Think: Spray it!

 

A well-seasoned painter, with comprehensive knowledge in spray painting, will know intuitively how to get the most out of his spray work. Here are several things that he or she might bring to the attention of a less experienced painter.

 

  1. Completely strain the paint prior to siphoning or pressurizing. This step cannot be stressed enough.
  2. Make sure that all system filters are clean. Replace at regular intervals.
  3. Make sure the spray tip is not worn, and does not leak as you trigger the gun.
  4. Assess hourly use of each spray tip per manufacturer recommendations with type of paint.
  5. Thin paint or coating material to the proper viscosity NOTE: This will increase ease of paint flow and pumping efficiency.
  6. At all times, maintain a posture and spray gun motion which is perpendicular to the surface. 7. Cover everything within close proximity to the work that does not get painted. Use plastic sheeting, paper and drop cloths.
  7. Use a mask as necessary – one appropriate for the product, space, exposure, ventilation, etc.

 

How to Optimize Ease and Speed in Unison

 

Normally, I would consider it difficult to work fast and for the work to be easy at the same time. It takes some concentration to achieve what you’re looking for. There a few things you can do.

 

  1. Spray finish as much as possible before having to bring out the roller and brush. Your productivity will be considerably higher; and the hand tool use won’t have worn you out.

 

  1. Use a roller system in place of where you typically would have used a brush.

 

  1. Upgrade or vary the brush size from what you would normally use.

 

  1. Provide the highest level of surface preparation available.

 

To make a paint job easier, it is not necessary to cut corners or costs. Ease comes with experience: knowing how to complete a task using a sound and simple method versus getting too involved.

 

Start simple and build from there. Example: Don’t try to strip wood without using a chemical remover.

 

Fast means: You will be done sooner and generally make more money. Just don’t sacrifice quality and end up back where you started: behind schedule.

 

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I hope that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob,”

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

 

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