I call this project: “Tomi and Emily recreate American geography”
Remember this blah wall in “my” classroom?
Well now it looks like this:
Not bad, huh? Not great, but definitely an improvement. It’s certainly more ” artistic rendering” of America than “geographical accuracy”, that’s for sure. All of Appalachia became a whole lot lower… the Pacific coast, on the other hand, became pretty complex… and the coasts of Mexico and Canada were just guesswork. But like I said, it’s an improvement! Be positive!!
And at least it’s finished (more or less… see below). This was a project that had been in the planning stage since, hm, about February. I talked it over endlessly with colleagues, school administration, and enthusiastic students. Somehow every time I planned a step forward, nothing ever came of it, or something got in the way, or plans changed. Finally at the beginning of last week I had a “now or never” moment, when I just got fed up with everything (mostly with myself, I mean) and decided to dive in. Unlike some of my dive-right-in projects (ahem, half-stripped wallpaper in the hallway, cough), this one didn’t falter midstream. Luckily!
The actual work went very quickly. I spent about an hour tracing an outline – and by an hour, I mean that 40 minutes was spent tracking down a working projector, and 20 minutes actually tracing. We asked a friend of ours, who paints murals as a side job, about paint and he pointed us in the right direction. Then Tomi and I spent a couple of hours on two afternoons painting.
Here’s the step-by-step:
Coasts and borders mostly finished. Notice the very faulty outline of Novia Scotia / New Brunswick (the northeast corner). We had to get a map and re-do that part. And I just noticed right now, with another mini-heart attack, that we painted Novia Scotia off the map. Oops; add that to the list of re-touches.
This (above) is what it looked like at the end of the first day.
The second day was harder. We didn’t have a great plan for painting all the contours. Or rather, I did have a great plan, which was using the projector to again project the map and trace them. First, getting a working projector was nearly impossible, because the IT situation in my school is atrocious. And even when we got it, it was really hard to see. So…. we started to improvise a little.
So that’s how it stands now. Next week, I want to do a bit of touching up:
– get rid of the paint dribbles (that new, long island west of Florida, maybe)
– whiten the yellowed patches, and touch up the white walls
– smooth out Mexico
– raise Nova Scotia back from the ocean
– touch up Vancouver island
There is also the possibility to add some pictures around the sides of the map. The original plan, way back when, called for some sepia-toned pictures of various American landmarks.
In addition to fixing the problems listed above, what else should be done? Here’s the poll: you can vote for as many as you like, and you can vote more than once (if you feel that strongly about it 🙂 )
PS. Some tips:
If anyone is considering a similar project, here is some advice (i.e. what I wish I had know before I started). First in connection with the projector. First, get yourself a projector that you can use for the duration of the project, and don’t move it! I ended up using three different ones and it was always super hard to align the stupid thing. Also, don’t try to trace a color anything. Really, just don’t: the colors that look lovely and separate on your computer screen will be fuzzy and pixel-y when projected on the wall, and you will hurt your eyes (and your brain) trying to trace them. If I did it again, I would only trace from a black-and-white line drawing.
Also, have enough pots or bowls to hold all your colors. Probably anyone with any sense of planning would have thought of this, but we had two plastic tubs for mixing colors in, so we had to dump out “finished” colors to mix new ones. Except… you’re never finished with a color: if you make a mistake (paint a wrong line, dribble some paint) and want to retouch, you have to mix up the exact same shade… which is a tiny bit difficult.
And get a variety of brushes. Really, you’ll need way more different sizes than you think, and more brushes than you think – especially if multiple people are painting. We had 6 brushes ranging from 2″ (50 mm) to 0.5″, and that was kind of enough for two people, but we really could have used some smaller brushes for smaller details.