I would have any of his people over at my house for dinner!
- Lois Gries, ASID, Chicago
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Archive for July 2011

A Dog’s Advice to Painters About Animal Safety on Painting Projects

Abby's Picture as Staff Writer on Pet Safety

Our dog Abby was recently promoted to Staff Writer on pet safety for our Chicago area painting and decorating company. Her column in our company’s newsletter will be titled “Dear Abby on Pet Safety”. To subscribe to her column, fill out the box in the right-hand column of our Home Page. Here is her first post.

Pet safety on painting projects is important because of the special relationship I have with my owner. If something were to happen to me while you are doing your work, I might end up having to share my dog house with you – I do not want that to happen! So, here are a few tips that would help you in keeping me safe.

First, talk to my owner about which room I should stay in while you are here. I might need to keep an eye on you, but it is best if you do not let me roam around. I have been known to make messes by getting my nose, paws, even my ears into places where I should not. That stuff tastes weird anyway!

Second, it would be a good idea to check with my owner to see if they have an electronic fence for me. Make sure I have my collar on in case I sneak out on you. Also, ask if you might need to let me out mid-day so I can do my business. My owner and I would appreciate that a lot.

When you do work around my house, do not drop stuff on your tarps like razor blades, nails or screws. I can cut myself on those things. God forbid I should swallow one of them!

Another pet peeve of mine (no pun intended) is the leftovers from your lunch boxes. If you leave them in your job site trash bag, I will find them! Believe me, my owner will not be happy when I rummage through your stuff to get to the good stuff in there. On top of that, I can injure myself going through that bag. So, pretty please, take the food with you when you leave my place!

Rescuing a Wood Front Door from the Brink

The sun and solid wood front doors are not on friendly terms. In fact, they are enemies! As painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area, we were recently called on to rescue such a front door from the attacks of the elements. The door had great bones. It was made of solid knotty alder wood and was handsomely decorated with iron studs and a peep door cage.

Wood Front Door - Before Refinishing

Wood Front Door - After Refinishing

Understandably, with such good looks, the owners did not want to hide them with a storm door. Consequently, having a southern exposure, the finish had badly deteriorated, to the point where moisture had rotted the casing in several areas. A molding had also begun to warp. It was definitely time for an intervention.

Upon examination, we determined that the entire casing needed to be replaced. That gave me an excuse to pay a visit to my favorite lumber Store in the Chicago area: Owl Lumber. I personally hand-picked the knotty alder lumber to replace the casing. Our carpenter then milled it to replicate the original profile and completed the installation. The rest of the work involved our finishing expertise.

Our first step was to remove the weather stripping. Before stripping the old finish, we also removed the metal decorations on the doors in order to protect them from the adverse effects of the stripper and improve the overall look of the finishing. Upon completing the stripping and three coats of a tinted flexible varnish of choice, we reinstalled the metal decorations and the weather stripping. Voila!

We explained to our client that, with such an exposure to the elements, we should put them on a low cost, two-year maintenance plan, which will keep their door looking great and keep it out of trouble.

A Chicago Wall Art Creation – Part 1: Involving the Client

A current wall art project is the epitome of our slogan as a painting and decorating contractor in the Chicago area: “We paint in partnership with YOU!”. In this case, the “you” is our client, the means is our color and concept consultation service and the object is a large wall art composition (16’x8’) our client wants to create for a large wall in his front stairway area.
Our client is an engineer and, therefore, very detailed-minded. He also likes to use his hands to build things in the physical realm. He approached us to help him design a large dimensional wall art creation. He told us he had some ideas and wanted to be involved in the creation of the physical elements, but was totally stymied in the development of the concept for the artwork and the decoration of the elements.

Sketch for Wall Art Creation

During the consultation, he described what he likes and dislikes regarding shapes, materials etc. We also presented him with a large amount of images and patterns to gain further insight into the elements of a design that would both appeal to him and, equally as importantly, permit him to use his hands and tools in creating the physical elements of the design, while having the design meet the spatial requirements.

This week, I presented a trial sketch of the ideas we came up with. He admitted that, at the outset, he had a fear that this process might not work. However, when he saw the sketch, he said: “You understood me – this is what I was hoping for. I am happy!” We could not have hoped for a better outcome: our client was not only pleased with the design, but also saw how he could use his skills to get involved in the creative process. Two days later, he was meeting with a buddy to discuss creating the physical pieces of the artwork. He is on his way now!

Once he is done with creating the physical elements, we will meet with him again to discuss color, texture and finishes for the elements. Our company will then proceed with the painting and decorating aspects of the project.

This is an outstanding example of how we use a consultative approach to involve our clients in the creative process of making vision of “home’ come alive.

A Vision of Painters

I view painting as a challenging and rewarding career opportunity. First of all, paint technology is in a constant state of innovation and improvement. A major impetus to innovation has been the stiffening of EPA regulations. Products that had been part of the painting landscape for generations have simply disappeared from shelves. A myriad of new waterborne products has emerged, each one requiring slightly different methods of application and even new tools. Also, boutique companies have emerged all over the country, which provide specialized products for a host of painting applications. These changes require painters to educate themselves and stay current with paint technology. The Internet has made gaining that knowledge easier than ever.

Painting Careers1

Painting is also a field that requires focus and the active engagement of all human senses for optimal performance: mind, eyes, touch and ears. The ears, really? Yes. I have often said: “listen to what the wall is telling you”. For instance, did you know that the sound of a brush gliding on a surface gives you information on the amount of paint still remaining in the brush? I call this active engagement of the senses: vigilance. Vigilance is the ability to be focused mentally, so that, as a job unfolds, all issues can be handled effectively, in a cost efficient manner.

Painting also has an aesthetic and artistic dimension. Painters make things look better by adding to their aesthetic qualities in four different ways: symmetry, harmony, balance and order. As painters gain competency in applying aesthetic principles, they become trusted advisers in helping to beautify a client’s environment.

Painting Careers 2

Over time and through dedication, a painter learns to master the medium, the tolls and the techniques necessary to produce the desired result, every time, while making it look effortless.

That brings me to the last part of my vision for painters: the heart. Engaging the heart is the biggest opportunity of all. Painters can be problem-solvers and creators of beauty in people’s lives. When that becomes the true motivation, it inspires a passionate pursuit for being a true painting craftsman! The rewards are awesome: self-respect, pride, satisfaction, recognition, status, even fame and money!

Painters who share that vision for their work have a home in my painting and decorating company in the Chicago area.