My gift to baby Lawrence—also known as Captain Lawrie, Lovely Lawrie, Little Tinker, Little Stinker, ‘Ickle Sausage or simply, The Captain—was also a gift to myself. I spend my days drawing pictures on a computer, which is a very agreeable way to earn a living, but nothing beats the squidge and splatter of paint in your hair.
Lawrie’s parents were interested in a tree mural for his nursery and asked if creatures could be incorporated into the design to keep their little man entertained between snoozings. There are many tree decals available on the web and inspiration was not hard to find. I used Adobe Illustrator to sketch out the basic design, picking colors from Lawrie’s Dinotastic Curtains.
I was a little stumped—no tree pun intended—at how to physically transfer the 6 inch-tall sketch onto Lawrie’s 9 ft-tall wall, without the use of a projector. I found one website that detailed how to create a homemade projector out of a very bright light-bulb, an old cardboard box, some sticky tape, a Sharpie, a pencil and some acetate, but that all seemed a bit like a disappointment waiting to happen (and too risky considering that I was travelling from New York where I live, to London where The Captain lives, and only had two and a half days to complete the project.)
So here is what I did instead …
I up-sized the Adobe Illustrator file to 9ft tall (108 inches). Yes, you really can do that; Illustrator is amazing. I divided the design up into 8.5 x 11 inch rectangles and took screen shots of each rectangle. I then printed out each screen shot at 100% on letter-size paper so that each print-out was ‘actual size’. I have this odd mix of hot pink and neon yellow paper that I rescued from my old office dumpster and so I used some of that. I still felt guilty for using all that paper (35 pages) but, in my defense, I did print double-sided. I laid out the printed pages on the floor, like a big tree puzzle, and took some large tracing paper that was also rescued from said dumpster, and traced my printed pages. Four pieces of printed paper translated to one piece of tracing paper. I ended up with 17 pieces of tracing paper that could be easily rolled up into a cardboard tube and packed in my luggage. Ta da!
Once in London, I taped the 17 pieces of tracing paper to the wall with masking tape, and used Saral paper to transfer it to the wall. Easy! The process took about two hours, with baby-cuddle breaks.
Now came the fun bit: Buying paint! Captain Lawrie, his mummy and I took a trip to a shopping center near his house. After getting slightly distracted by all the teeny-tiny goodies in Mothercare, Next, Mamas&Papas, M&S, and by the blueberry muffins that we ate at Thornton’s Café, we took a look in Hobbycraft for some acrylics. I do love the thick and gloopy Winsor And Newton Galeria Acrylic Colour that Hobbycraft sells, and have used it with success on the SuperDragon painting project I completed last year. The paint is glossy like cake batter, and easy to work with, but the color selection was just not right for Lawrie’s mural. The mural design utlizes a muted/dirty/dusky palette, whilst Galeria is bright and vivid. Plus, let us be frank about this, it is crazy expensive at £17/$26 a jar.
We all three toddled off to the DIY store, B&Q, and were happy to find a massive selection of wonderful color options in their interior wall paint range, called “Colours by B&Q”. We purchased ten or so of the “Tester” pots at the bargain price of £1.10/$1.70 per pot, choosing Matt Spring for the leaves, Matt Morello for the blossoms, Matt Sky for the creatures and Matt Laurel for the tree. The blue, pink and green paints required some simple blending with acrylics (brought with me from NY) to achieve the right swatch to match the curtains.
Painting was slower than anticipated, but very rewarding. Everything required at least two coats to make it nice and smooth. The painting took about 13 hours, but with the beautiful company of Lawrie, his mummy, and the radio, it was a pleasure. Lawrie’s parents have a ridiculously sweet manx cat called Rudyard “Kippy” Kipling, whose disproportionally long hind legs and a lack of tail, cause him to hop about like a rabbit. It was decided to eliminate the cat tail from the mural in his honor.
I hope that you enjoy it, Baby Lawrence, and that your birdie, hedgehog, squirrel, butterfly, and Kippy-cat buddies make for fun times!