Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I’m a Big Whining Baby (Part II)

My hatred for painting stems from the following episode, which took place in February 2004.

It was winter, and I decided it was time for my very first DIY project. I thought I’d paint our spare bedroom and give it a snazzy faux finish just like we have in our living room and dining room. Determined to do everything exactly right, I got out several books on painting and faux finishing and dutifully practiced on pieces of cardboard before tacking the real thing.

Having mastered the technique on cardboard (or so I thought), I began the long prep process. I washed walls. I spackled. I sanded. I taped. I removed strikeplates. All the tedious stuff that makes me want to scream. Finally I was ready to paint. I applied two coats of the base color (a pale butter yellow). It was time consuming, but it looked fine. (Note: The superb taping and draping of the dropcloth.)

Once those two coats were dry, I was ready to get fauxing! There are several ways to apply glaze for a faux finish. The way I chose was to “rag” it on, that is, apply the glaze with a wobbed-up rag. Actually, many, many, many wobbed-up rags. Rags quickly become sodden and useless and end up in heaps all around the room.

I screwed up almost immediately on the first wall, where I tried to "fix" two blotches and made them about 10X worse!!!! I felt exactly like Mr. Bean in that Mr. Bean movie where he was in an art gallery and he somehow smudged part of "Whistler's Mother." When he tried to fix it, he ended up removing almost all of the paint from the masterpiece. Pretty darn funny. Of course, it's not so hilarious when it happens to you in real life. (Note: In reality the walls are not quite as screechingly orange as they may appear on your monitor. They are a sort of terra cotta/Italian villa color-effect.)

Apparently, I was in denial about the blotches and actually thought I had fixed them because instead of stopping and starting over, I kept going--painting two more walls, both of which looked horribly amateurish. There were lines of demarcation, where I applied the glaze in stages (the way the book told me to, but which is in fact not a good way to do it). I finally realized I needed to stop after the third wall. By the time I faced facts, a whole weekend had been sucked up fauxing to no avail. I had absolutely nothing to show for it. I had to start over.

Really, the walls were just laughably bad. And what was most irksome was that I tried so hard to "do it right." I read up on it; and I practiced on like 10 pieces of cardboard. Of course, all those pieces of cardboard were basically the width of my roller, so I didn't quite anticipate the lines of demarcation problem. The book warned of that being a problem, but said that if you maintained a "wet leading edge" you'd be fine. Wrong. What I really needed was a roller 11-feet-wide, but I guess they don't make those.

The next weekend, I repainted the wrecked walls with two coats of base coat. I think I actually had to do a couple of the walls three times. Oy. After losing three weekends and a good number of weekday evenings, I finally could stand it no longer. The walls don't look as craptacular as they did after my first attempt, but they are barely acceptible. If we ever sell the house, we will have to paint over them. What's annoying is that I know there are people out there who can do this sort of thing the first time round and have it look great. Well, I cannot. Let's just say that my talents lie elsewhere. In fact, I had more to say about the whole dreadful ordeal, but it is making me exceptionally cross just remembering it, so I think I will end this entry right now!

Edit--Wednesday AM:
I just reread this, and I apologize if the writing is not up to my usual standard (such as it is). As I was writing this entry, I found myself wondering why on Earth I was spending valuable time reliving an unpleasant experience and I started to get pissed off at myself.


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