I would have any of his people over at my house for dinner!
- Lois Gries, ASID, Chicago
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Children Creating a Mural on Virtues

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

The road leading to virtues is a life journey, wrought with twists, turns, obstacles and scary choices. They guide us to living joyful, contributing lives, from a “True-North” perspective. Do these words paint images in your your mind? They do for these two youngsters who will be painting a mural on a twenty square foot canvas for their school to enjoy and be inspired by. How did all this happen?

Mural Project – Brainstorming Session

Every year, our Chicago area painting and decorating company participates in a community project as a thank you for all our blessings. These projects have included painting the sets for local theatre companies, the painting of mural scenes on public benches, among many others. This year’s event is special in that it involves working with children in creating a unique piece of art that is expressive of their views on life. The mural project was conceived by our company as a raffle item at a large gala held earlier this year as a fundraising event for Science & Arts Academy of Des Plaines, Illinois. The mom who won the raffle passed up an $8500 Rolex to get the mural project for her daughter and her best friend. That was some inspired mom, with a clear sense of her “True North”!

Hands Holding Compass

Last Saturday, the two moms brought their daughters to the school for their first session with us. The purpose of that meeting was twofold. First, we introduced them to the history of murals going back to the cavemen, with modern examples of how murals meet people’s needs today, taken from our inventory of completed mural projects. The second part was a brainstorming session with Rita, our Color and Concept Consultant (and my wife) and Fran, our Muralist. In their interactions with the girls, they were able to facilitate the articulation of the kids’ vision for their mural. As the girls were speaking about their views on virtues, our muralist was capturing their thoughts with sketches. At the end of the session, we had a rough sketch of the mural, a list of the mural elements and yes: homework!

Below are some of the elements the girls came up with for their mural: two hands holding a compass, winding path, gate, obstacles, storm clouds, rain, lightning, sun, flowers, wolf and animals. They already completed their first post-meeting assignment. They met last week to find inspiration pictures online for their various painted elements. They even found one for the two hands holding a compass! At their next meeting, they will redo the preliminary sketch developed in the first session. Part of their homework assignment also includes their keeping a journal of their discoveries and learning during the mural project. Stay tuned for more updates on their exciting mural painting project!

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Rebuilt Victorian Porch

Rebuilding Banister with PDC – Part 1

Rebuilding Banister with PDC – Part 2

As Painting and decorating contractors, we do the maintenance painting and restoration work on many historical and “period” houses in the Chicago area. One of those properties is in Oak Park and is an 1870’s Victorian house. The front porch faces North and is in the shade all day long. Consequently, it is quite vulnerable to the ravages of moisture and weather.

The banisters were made of 10”x2” pieces of lumber held together side by side, tooled and beveled to create a beautiful pattern. Unfortunately, that design created scores of possible access points to moisture due to movement between the boards or the boards and the bottom rail. The bottom posts were equally vulnerable because the moisture would gather at the bottom of the lower rail, next to the posts. Needless to say, the banisters had to be rebuilt on multiple occasions over the years.

The owner of Donatelli Builders , whom we use in all our historical wood repairs, believes in using materials that offer the maximum longevity possible. So he told me about the possibility of using PVC to recreate the banister and posts designs. I talked to the owner about the idea and he all for it since the original design could be faithfully replicated, while achieving greater longevity at the same time.

One word of caution is in order about using PVC and dark paint colors. On the North side of a house, color choices do not affect PVC. However, before using PVC on the other sides of a house, the LRV (Light Reflectance Value) of the colors to be used must be considered. The lower the LRV (darker colors), the light/heat will be absorbed by the color and the higher the risk that the heat will distort the PVC, causing it to loose its shape.

Using modern materials can help prolong the life and beauty of vintage designs, as well as help reduce the maintenance costs to the owners. However, they must be used judiciously.

Rebuilding Banister with PDC – Part 3

As painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area, Painting in Partnership, Inc. is built around the concept of Craftsmanship. Our Craftsmanship begins with a Commitment to “do the right thing” and couples with the Knowledge to “know what the right thing is” and the “Skill to pull it off”. These craftsmanship fundamentals enable us, to deliver to our clients: Peace of Mind, Pride in Finished Work and a Delightful Painting Experience, every time, every craftsman.

Painter Craftsman at Work

When we look to hire a painter, in addition to painting skills, there are six major qualities we look for. They are:
1- Love of One’s Work: Someone who loves to paint, because it is satisfying and adds beauty to life.
2- Thirst to Learn: Someone who displays initiative in their learning process, through research, experimentation and perfecting one’s practices and tools.
3- Focus and Intensity: Someone who focuses and engages all his/her senses in the coordination and mastery of the great many variables involved in painting. Someone who enjoys maintaining a healthy body, fit for the high daily physical demands of painting.
4- Pursuit of Excellence, Within the Constraints of Time and Purpose: Someone who understands that the ultimate challenge of a true craftsman is to achieve the desired quality in a time efficient manner, while respecting the constraints that may exist.
5- Openness and Desire to Share One’s Knowledge: Someone who willingly shares their knowledge with others and is open to learn from anyone.
6- Passion: Someone who has energy, enthusiasm and a positive attitude. Passion is the result of engaging one’s heart in the work process. This is the quality we most seek in a painter candidate. This is the quality that distinguishes a good “technician” from a true craftsman.

These are the qualities that will enable someone to develop as a true craftsman over time. As a company, we hire people at different stages in their development as craftsmen. We help fill the skill gaps through hands-on training opportunities and the use of our Craftsmanship Operating Procedures (COPs). Painting in Partnership sees itself as a training ground for craftsmen. We write our job ads to attract people who see painting as their avocation, not just a job.

Here is a commentary that Steve, our most senior craftsman, wrote on the fundamentals of craftsmanship:
“Craftsmanship only happens when all those fundamental traits come together. The challenge is unifying them on a daily basis. For me, being energized and engaged is probably the most important aspect of craftsmanship, because without the energy, nothing can come together. I believe craftsmanship is a life-long endeavor and a work in progress. There are setbacks along the way, but believing in the prospect of doing things well, in a timely manner is the key.”

If you have residential painting experience and have a craftsman’s attitude, we are very interested in talking to you.

Categories : Careers in Painting

After a three-year search for a painting contractor they could trust to refinish their prized garage door, they found our company on the web and hired us for the project. This client lives in Oak Park, a near suburb of Chicago. A few years ago, they purchased a ninety-year-old house, which they completely remodeled. The only remaining portion of the house left untouched was the garage door, which was in sore need of restoration.

Doug Fir Garage Door – Before Refinishing

Doug Fir Garage Door – After Refinishing

As shown in the “Before” picture, the old finish looked foreboding. It was thick, had wrinkled and crackled in a veiny pattern. The door looked like it had not seen a can of varnish in at least forty years. What saved it from ruin, was that, first, it was made of Doug Fir and, second, it was facing North, away from sunrays. All the wood components were perfectly sound. However, since the varnish in the lower panels had long worn off, dark water stains had substantially marred the wood in many places. The same thing was also true of the areas where the varnish had crackled and exposed the wood. After stripping the wood, we used a wood brightner to lighten those areas as much as possible.

Replacing a Doug Fir door of this quality would be extremely expensive. The wood grain was also very tight, which would indicate that old growth lumber was used. West Coast Doug Fir is the second tallest conifer in the world, right after the Redwood. It has been known to reach heights of four hundred feet. It is a very decay-resistant specie, as demonstrated with this garage door.

Our client did not know that their door was made of Doug Fir. They just knew that they had a great old door, well worth the preservation and restoration effort. Thirty eight hours of work later: voila! The garage door now matches the house’s great bones and noble history.

Categories : House Painting

Oak Railing – After Painting Spindles

As painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area, we are often asked if we could paint the spindles in a wood staircase. Almost always, it is the lady of the house asking this question. Women are often less found of the “Wood Look” than men. Painting only the spindles can be not only a good compromise between the two spouses, but also a smart design touch.

Just painting spindles on a wood staircase is a labor-intensive endeavor. To do a quality job, there cannot be any paint on surfaces other than the spindles. To accomplish that result, we have to tape off the steps around the bottom of the spindles and sometime the top as well. Next we scuff-sand the spindles and then apply one coat of bonding primer to ensure a good adhesion to the old finish. The spindles then receive two coats of waterborne enamel. After adequate dry-time, the tape is removed, along with any paint residue. To be efficient and to produce the best result, two people should simultaneously do the priming and painting steps.

Keeping the peace in the household about the “wood look” by painting spindles is not only a smart idea, but also a good design choice as well, as shown in our picture

Categories : Wood Refinishing