Friday, June 30, 2017

DIY Outdoor Painting Station

If your weather has been anything like ours, your family is probably spending a ton of time outside. A couple of weeks ago, I was wandering around Lowes and saw some plexiglass. I got an idea to create a painting station for my children in our yard. The inspiration for the project came from our local children's museum. The painting window is one of my children's favorite rooms.

So, this project is actually pretty simple and inexpensive. We use washable fingerpaint for ours, and let the rain or squirt bottle do the cleaning afterwards.


Piece of Plexiglass (Lowes has precut ones available, but will also cut the glass for you)
Two boards the width of the Plexiglass (I had some left over plastic composite wood which has worked well in the elements)
Two or four bolts and locking nuts (Long enough to go through both boards with room to spare)
Two brackets/eye screws (to hang from your fence or other surface)
Cup Hooks
Drill, Clamps, wrench, pliers and (maybe) a Saw
Painting supplies: brushes, buckets, squeegie, squirt bottle

Step One: Drill Holes and Attach Bolts

Start by clamping your boards in a plexiglass sandwich. I didn't have to cut my boards to be the same length since they already were, but you might if you get a new board.

Going slowly, drill a hole through the boards and plexiglass sandwich. You will want to use a drill bit that is wide enough to have the bolt slide through easily. I did four holes/bolts in my boards. Using a wrench and pliers, secure the bolts through the boards and plexiglass. Make sure they are firmly attached but not too tight. You don't want to crack your plexiglass.

Step Two: Attach Hangers

I had some of these metal brackets hanging out from a previous project. It was rather easy to add them to the back of my board through the top set of bolts, but you can easily attach them using a set of screws as well. I added some washers just so they wouldn't wear into the boards over time.

Step Three: Add Hooks

You can now remove the clamps. I added a set of cup hooks to my boards to hang these small buckets for paint. The buckets are from Target. I might also add additional hooks for the squeegie and spray bottle. I slipped some rope through the the brackets and hung it on my fence.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Myrtle Gets a Facelift


I have one of those compulsive personalities that requires many (many) lists, properly labeled plastic bins and planning. I like things a certain way and in a certain place. Owning Myrtle has taught me that despite all the lists I make of what order the remodel will go in and what I want to accomplish, she has much different plans. I suppose remodeling her is much like motherhood in that respect.

When she was all shut up for winter, I made all these detailed plans. This year I was going to tackle the windows, roof and paint her one of those Pinterest worthy paint jobs. I spent all my snow days reading about how to properly seal windows, how to DIY paint on a vintage camper and how to coat a roof. I was anxious to get started the minute the tulips started peeking up.

On the first stretch of nice weather, I pulled out the first window. I was going to clean it up, seal it up with butyl tape and put it back in. Easy peasy. I wanted to complete all the windows so I could move on to painting. The framing was still solid around the window, and with a lot of elbow grease, the old caulk was gone and the window was ready to go back in. Except it wouldn't. At least not to the point where it was sealed properly. I realized after much cursing and wiggling, that these replacement windows weren't going to cut it. So, despite all my plans, I learned the lesson Myrtle keeps telling me...I have to be willing to be flexible. So, I started hunting for original windows to put back into the camper (still searching by the way). I decided to leave the old windows, buy some new metal door awnings to go over them to keep the rain out (thanks Amazon!) and move on to resealing the sheet metal pieces and j-rails.

I pulled the first piece of sheet metal that was covering a hole that used to be a vent. I didn't need the vent, but to make it look nicer and ready it for painting, I did paint the sheet metal white. I was pleasantly surprised the caulk came off really easy and there was minimal wood to replace. I got that project done in just a few hours. Fresh off this good news, I removed a piece of j-rail. It also came off easy and didn't seem to have any damage to repair. Heck, why not keep going? So, I removed the next piece of j-rail by the cab over bunk area.

Myrtle started laughing at me. And by laughing, I mean the skin practically fell off her because the bunk area is all rotted away. Son of a gun! I should have known that this was going to happen considering the cab over bunk area is the only part of the camper with the original birch wood which is a strong indication that it's the only area the previous owner didn't reframe. So, this is what Myrtle looks like in the front right now until the Hubs and I take off the front skin to see what we're dealing with. (Here's hoping it's just a couple pieces to replace by the j-rail)

So, that brings me back to that paint job. The cool eye catching paint job that I've been planning since before I got her. It would seem that isn't going to happen this summer. In fact, with the search for windows and the slow moving resealing, there's a chance it will be a couple of summers away. I was bummed. I know it's superficial and the paint has little to do with her ability to take our family camping, but dang...I wanted that eye catching vintage look now.

Late one night as I cut vinyl for a father's day gift (blog post coming soon), I pulled out some vinyl from an outside project a few years ago. Then I think an actual light bulb came on as I had my epiphany. If I couldn't paint Myrtle yet, that didn't mean I had to forgo decorating her. I ordered some vinyl, and now I have the pleasure of introducing Myrtle's mini-face lift.

The supplies you need for this project are quite simple. Two 5 yard rolls of Oracal 651 outdoor vinyl did the trick for me (I buy all my vinyl from Expressions Vinyl and have been very happy with their pricing and quick shipping). I put the rolls through my Silhouette paper cutting machine. I made a very simple cut file with 2 inch wide circles with a couple of rows of half circles for the top.

While my machine was cutting all that vinyl, I prepped the surface for the vinyl. I gave Myrtle a bath and then wiped all the blue areas (where my dots were going) with rubbing alcohol.

Once all the vinyl was cut, I used a old school ruler to measure out the top row. I did half circles every 6 inches. Once the top roll was done, I just eye balled the rest of the rows. The aluminum skin is a great way to keep the circles level. I just used the horizontal lines in the skin as my guide. I didn't use transfer paper. I just peeled the circles off and placed on the skin slowly to avoid bubbles. I would use a spare credit card to get any extra bubbles out of the vinyl and to stick it to the skin. When I got to an obstacle, I would place a circle over the skin and obstacle and use a dull Exact-o knife to cut around the obstacle.

I am extremely impressed with how this turned out considering the amount of time it took (just a couple of hours over several days) and the amount of money (around $30.00). The Oracal 651 is rated for around 6+ years of durability outdoors. I really hope it doesn't take that long to get to painting or I might go completely crazy. The vinyl should come off with some heat and scraping. Since it will only be removed when it's time to paint, I won't worry about any scrapes it may leave in the surface of Myrtle.

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