Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Asian Cabana Project

For the past two years, my beloved partner Theresa Rose has hosted an end-of-summer pool party at her home. Each year she has picked a theme and made a herculean effort to decorate her pool area to match these themes. Last year it was a beach theme (no big stretch there but you have to start somewhere) and she had a local student come in and paint a mural on her pool cabana of a sort of stick figure "surfer dude". It was nice, it was colorful... but it didn't hold her interest for long.

This year she decided early on that she wanted an Asian theme. She had completed all of the major landscaping (and it was pretty major) around the pool area and now wanted to redesign it to fit her theme. She had ideas and asked me to bring them to life. The pressure was on...

Her ideas involved scroll-like elements, kanji characters, and lots of red, silver, and black. She painted over the existing decorations and we started with a torn scroll-looking element in shades of red on the front wall. Next we created rag roller painted layer of silver to add texture and dimension to the other walls. Then came the fun part...

I began to research kanji characters and created a visual dictionary of dozens of words and phrases for her to choose from. We picked silly and fun things like "Naked man changing" and "Naked woman changing" for the dressing room doors and "Make an effort for pure water" on the pump room. I also designed a scroll that I was going to paint a trompe l'oeil* scroll with "Faith" on its center and real bamboo ends.

To paint the kanji, I made and cut stencils for each character and painted them on with a stencil brush. The scroll was a combination of stenciled kanji and hand-painted branches and blossoms, with the bamboo nailed in place. I used rough twine tied to the top to "hang" the scroll on the wall. I also used some of the leftover bamboo and twine to create door handles.

As a last detail, I took down a series of old stickers that were placed on the plexiglas windscreens surrounding part of the pool area. They were originally put there to keep birds from crashing into the plexi and had been there for decades. Removing them was pretty awful but they were in tough shape and Theresa wanted them gone. Want to remove ancient horrible stickers? Use vegetable oil. It works even better than Goo-gone and is more eco-friendly (yeah, there are answers to many things on the Internet). I replaced the stickers with ones that I designed and had printed through an online vendor. Considering they were one-of-a-kind prints I thought the prices were very reasonable.

All in all the results were pretty good. Theresa added lots of little decorative details, including tiny lanterns made from miniature red and black Chinese take-out boxes. I created templates for a moon and a star and we punched holes through them so the light glowed through holes in the outlined shapes. The party was a wonderful success and although a lot of hard work it was a great project.

What's up for next year? Only time will tell...

Here is the front of the cabana:

The doors to the changing rooms:

A close-up of the kanji (naked woman changing... eek!) and bamboo door handle:

The cherry blossom "Faith" scroll:

The replacement windscreen stickers:

A close-up of one of the stickers. I was pretty pleased with the print results:

* a visual illusion used to trick the eye into thinking a painting is a 3D object.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This came out beautiful! The pictures don't do it justice. I'm glad I got to see it in person :) Between the vision and making it happen, you both did an amazing job :)

September 15, 2009 at 9:07 PM  

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