Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Tiki build-along, pt. 8

It's July in Texas! And do you know what that means? It means 90 percent humidity and 100 degree temperatures! It also means my outdoor projects--including the tikification of the back patio--are on hold in favor of things that can be completed in the relative comfort of air conditioning. Fear not--the tiki bar and pool are getting quite a bit of use now as myself and The Wife retreat to our personal tropical paradise on a nightly basis.

The long and short of it is that I'm not likely to have much in the way of build-alongs for the remainder of the summer. Just so you know. But before I temporarily sign off on this particular series, I want to share my efforts on the ceiling. Most traditional tiki bars have interesting ceilings. Very often they're adorned with lauhala matting, fishing nets, bamboo, reed and other texture-rich materials. They look great. They're also almost always inside, in climate-controlled environs. That's not the case with me, and my primary concern was 1) that it not act as a haven for dirt, spiders, wasps, etc. and 2) be easy to clean. Obviously, that's something of a challenge, to hit those targets whilst still being suitably tiki. The existing white ceiling had to go, though, lest I get a scolding from the legendary Bamboo Ben about "No white ceilings!"

Fortunately, The Wife and I had a plan for the ceiling even before we were bitten by the tiki bug. There's a tradition in the Southern U.S. of painting porch ceilings blue. Supposedly this discourages insects (ie mud daubers, spiders, etc.) from nesting there. The blue confuses them, thinking it's the sky, supposedly. We tried this at the old house, painting the unfinished drywall a sky blue. And it seemed to work. A section of the garage we never got around to painting did have mud dauber nests, but the painted sections stayed clean. So for the tiki porch, we'd paint the ceiling blue to simulate a marine environment.

First up, I pressure washed the ceiling. It was amazing just how much dust and grime had accumulated over the years. What had been a dull, grayish-white became a much brighter dull white. Then I used an edger to paint all the corners where the ceiling met the walls. I laid plastic tarp on the ground and taped more plastic to the walls where I was painting, to catch any drips. Regardless of how careful you are, there will be drips. There are always drips. Also, regular broom handles aren't really designed to handle the stress of paint rollers. I snapped two of them and had the roller fall on top of me, making me look part Smurf, before I got smart and bought a metal handle with a reinforced screw thread. No more broken handles.

Note the ugly, UV-yellowed ceiling fans. Until we started painting the ceiling blue, we didn't give them much thought. They kind of blended in with the dull ceiling and went unnoticed. They were effective at moving air on the patio, though, and on hot days make it quite comfortable, so removing the fans entirely was never considered. But oh, how hideous these old fans now look!

Surprise! The Wife gifted me with two new, tiki-appropriate ceiling fans for our anniversary!

Naturally, the old ceiling fan mounts were incompatible with the new ones, so what should've been a 30 minute switch-out ended up taking most of the day. But eventually, I triumphed. And the new fans look fantastic. The lights aren't terribly tiki, though, so I'm reading threads on and taking cues from people like Tiki Skip on how to scratch-build tiki lights. Eventually, the existing lights will be replaced with tiki versions. Two fans down, three to go!

Now, let's discuss best laid plans. In going for an undersea, marine vibe, I took another cue from another home bar build on Tiki Central and tracked down some Valspar color crystals to add to my paint. This is essentially very fine silver glitter, and I added four packets per gallon of paint (It seems Valspar has recently discontinued this product, so finding it in stores became rather hit-or miss, and online options are in price gouging territory). The idea is to simulate a glittery, underwater look, and I have to say the effect is subtle but nice with angled light. The next step, however, didn't work out quite so well. We thought we'd paint caustic ripples--the refracted light pattern you see in swimming pools, etc.--on the ceiling. Simple enough, right? Wrong. I got an assortment of pattern photos and used a projector to throw them onto the ceiling. Looked great! Then I took a lighter blue paint--with the glitter added--and painted over the projected pattern. Looked great! The I turned the projector off. Looked terrible! The fake wood grain texture of the ceiling panels did me no favors, but even without that, it just looked a mess.

We discussed various options for trying to salvage the idea, but ultimately decided it would just be a case of throwing good money after bad. Sometimes you have to accept failure and move on. So move on I did. The caustic ripple patterns had only been step one. Step two is what I hoped would really sell the undersea concept--silhouettes! Again, I used the projector to throw the image where I wanted, and used a black Sharpie to quickly sketch the outline.

I did the projecting and sketching at night, for obvious reasons. Some of the images were too large to do all at once, so I had to break them up into sections, completing one outline then moving the projector and lining up the second section with what I'd already outlined. Tedious work. Also, sweaty work. Even with the sun down, the humidity was sweltering and I was soaked completely through by the time I finished.

In the daylight, I used a 3/4 inch flat brush to paint in the silhouettes. I thought this part would go quickly. I thought wrong. Two hours per silhouette, minimum. Aching neck, aching shoulders, cramping hands were bonus prizes. And, much to my chagrin, a single coat of paint wasn't enough. Single coats looked splotchy and uneven, requiring a second coat to even things out. But the sea turtle--the only one that's received both coats--looks pretty darn good. This one greets visitors when they arrive. Eventually, I'll paint over the ill-fated ripple patterns. That'll be tedious work, so I need to run out of excuses not to first.

Here's the hammerhead shark, the largest silhouette. He's somewhere along the lines of 6-7 feet long. I knew I wanted a big shark on the ceiling, but didn't think a tiger or Great White would present well in silhouette from underneath. A hammerhead was perfect. He still needs a second coat.

I pretty much had to do a manta ray as well. They're huge and instantly recognizable. He needs a second coat as well.

There is more paint work yet to do. Because the water ripple pattern didn't work out, there's a lot more blank blue ceiling that needs attention--there's 64 feet of it, after all. The farthest end will feature a mermaid in profile, but I'm holding off on that one because it will be the most detailed and I want it to be realistic, not cartoonish. That's not an easy target, and I'm still trying to come up with exactly the image I want. And I need more undersea silhouettes to fill in some of the other blank spaces I wasn't anticipating. An octopus seems all but certain at this point, and maybe a sawfish. Beyond that, I'm undecided. Regardless, I'm happy with what I've got at this point.

Now Playing: Talking Heads The Name of This Band is Talking Heads
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