Monday, May 22, 2017

Tiki build-along, pt. 4

Okay, as a side effect of my tikification project, I had to remove the two outdoor speakers from the patio roof. Previously, I'd not given them much thought--they're out of the way and sound comes out of them when I turn on the stereo. What more is there? Well, getting them down was easy enough, but completely disgusting.

As you can see below, the previous owners of our house--they of the "Never met anything Tanglefoot wouldn't look good on" inclination--decided to smear Tanglefoot all over the tops of these speakers. In the decade or so since they went up, untold generations of insects, reptiles and possibly small mammals have met their demise atop these speakers, and since decomposed into a sticky, organic goo. Naturally, some of this vomit-inducing composition got on me during the speaker removal. I decided that crap had got to go.

Here's a close-up of some of the nastiness. This is what I have to deal with. Yuck. For some reason the previous owners seemed to think if you put Tanglefoot on something, critters would try to avoid it. Where they got this notion, I've no idea, but the opposite actually happens: A bug gets stuck, and that attracts a bigger bug looking for an easy meal. Which gets stuck as well. So then a gecko tries to eat them both. And gets stuck. And all of them die, which attracts more insects looking to feed on their rotting corpses... you get the idea. So I took them into the driveway and hosed them off with a jet nozzle to remove spider webs, mud dauber nest and assorted dirts before I tackled the Tanglefoot. The way to remove Tanglefoot is to scrub it using mineral spirits. It's not fun. It's labor intensive. But it works. Eventually I had two clean-ish speakers. The speakers were originally white, but they'd discolored over the years to a greyish-white, with some brownish discoloration in places. It would not clean off no matter how much detergent I scrubbed it with. Know what did come off? The plastic. Because of UV radiation degradation--even tucked away out of direct sunlight--the plastic casings had become brittle and crumbly. Clearly, I couldn't just put the speakers back up like before.

I disassembled the speakers, removing the mounting brackets and speaker cone cover. I got a couple cans of spray paint--one tan and one darker brown--and used masking tape to cover the speaker wire connections and the speaker cone. Then I sprayed each down with a couple coats of tan and let them sit in the garage overnight with the dehumidifier running.

I didn't have a lot of time to devote solely to the speakers (although, as these things do, I ended up spending a lot more time than planned) but since I'd gone this far, I wanted to make them fit in with the tikification happening on the patio. So I took masking tape, cut it into wedges, and masked out some patterns on the speaker.

Then I laid down a couple coats of brown over the speakers.

After 15-20 minutes or so, when the paint had dried to the touch but hadn't yet set, I used an Exacto knife to peel up the corner of the tape so I could remove it. Back in my model-kit making days, I learned that if you let the paint set up completely, it'd form a solid sheet and peeling up the tape would result in big chunks of the paint coming up from the painted surface as well. So removing the tape once the paint is not-quite-wet anymore prevents that from happening.

And the result is a series of light-colored wedges breaking up the heavy brown. It's nothing spectacular, I'll admit. It's vaguely tribal but more importantly, it was pretty simple. I toyed briefly with the idea of cladding the speakers in bamboo or reed, but that would get dirty very quickly and take forever to make and attach. This is much simpler and easier to keep clean.

The biggest challenge was what to do with the speaker covers. At first I thought I'd just go with solid color, but that evolved to thinking I should do tikiesque patterns, which evolved into making tiki faces. So that's what I did. Just like the speaker bodies, I painted the cover tan, then used masking tape to create the face pattern, followed by a coat of dark brown. This is the first face I attempted, and just between you and me, I think this one turned out the best. I just made it up as I went along, with no advanced design sketch or the like.

Here's tiki speaker No. 1 re-installed on the patio ceiling. He looks pretty good up there, no?

Here's tiki speaker No. 2 re-installed. It's a more complicated design but I don't think it's got the pop of the first one. Still, my eldest daughter thinks they're both cool. Regardless of their individual merits, they're a vast improvement over the Tanglefoot-goo speakers that previously hung there.

As a value-added bonus, I also replaced the defunct doorbell on the back patio. When we're outside, we can't hear the doorbell if we have visitors, so the previous owners (wisely) installed a doorbell extension on the patio. Over the years, however, barn swallows built nests on it and spiders built webs in it, with the end result being it died. So I replaced it, but the doorbell cover was--you guessed it--white. So I attempted the same tiki repurposing I did with the speakers. This one's interesting, but I think it ultimately looks more Native American in design than tiki. I'm sure it'll blend in when I have the wall decorations up, but from now on I think I'll sketch out my designs beforehand.

Now Playing: Esquivel Esquivel!
Chicken Ranch Central

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