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In Focus

Apparently, I have a “thing” for large projects.

Like when I redid my entire kitchen on a whim, or when I make an entirely new layout for my light show, for example.

Typically, when I start a project, every second of spare time goes into it until it is done. Some projects take longer than others.

The latest project has already taken several weeks, and I’m barely to the halfway point. I’m painting plywood cutouts.

Now, if you know our pressman, you will know what I am referring to. He gifted me seven large plywood cutouts about 4-5 feet tall. They are a Santa in a sleigh and six reindeer.

When I received them I thought they were cool looking, but the more I looked, the more I thought they needed a little help. These cutouts were not painted but were covered in paper that was glued onto the plywood. They were weathered, faded and tearing beyond repair. Plus, Santa was wearing a gray suit sitting in a gray sleigh...that was hard for me to pass on. There wasn’t much color to these holiday decorations.

So, I made the decision to change that.

I started with Santa. I took a ton of photos before carefully pulling off the paper, trying to keep it as intact as possible. I was worried if I’d be able to replicate it since I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. The plan was to use the original paper to trace the lines I needed for the outlines of the objects. But what I found underneath made it so much easier.

After all the years these cutouts had spent outside, it left an impression on the plywood, literally. The sun tattooed lines directly on the plywood. I was elated. Granted, I wouldn’t be able to prime the wood as I would have preferred, but I was not about to lose those perfect traceable lines.

All I knew was if I could paint Santa and the sleigh full of toys, I could definitely paint the reindeer. Santa took me quite some time to complete. After clearing the paper, and sanding off the glue on the edges, I traced everything out in pencil, followed by black paint. I essentially made it like a blank coloring book page. It actually worked well.

Some of the toys in the sleigh were fine, some were totally outdated, or there were a few I didn’t want to mess with. There was a rocking horse that had to stay, but I was not digging the black and white color. I went with bright pink with glittery purple hair. A vintage corded telephone was nixed and replaced with the one thing I can draw a box, and I painted it to look like a wrapped gift. The brown teddy bear is now a multicolored tie-dye, Santa has his classic red suit, and the sleigh is various shades of green. It’s so much better, more colorful, and should be easier to see at night. Granted, it took several layers of paint due to the lack of primer, but it still got sealed. It was my first time using polyurethane. And each side is getting many coats.

Now I am on my third reindeer. They are all cut the same shape and it’s to the point I don’t need the coloring book outlines which is making the process faster. A plain brown reindeer is just so boring to me. Their harnesses were upgraded to red and green instead of black and white. I added some metallic bronze to the fur, and a light gold to the antlers and white parts of the reindeer. I mean...they’re magical right? Sparkling fur for the win.

The particular deer I am working on is missing part of a back leg. I rebuilt it the best I could with a paint mixing stick and some flat pieces of wood. I cut it to size and angled it to match the leg. I realized no matter what I do, this leg is going to stand out. So, I made it really stand out by making a “prosthetic” leg out of candy canes and a peppermint wheel. Because...why not? I’ll have to think of a back story for this deer.

All I know is I still have four reindeer to go, and I have been at this for a month already. But I’m determined to finish it...and figure out where I am going to display it this Christmas....

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