Thursday, March 7, 2013

S3PP: The Glorious Wooden Curtain of Houses - Please god, don't let myhouse burn down...

S3PP - Season 3 Premiere Party
The Curtain of Houses

This project was born from a snippet of something I watched on the DIY network... In typical DIY fashion, some hunky guy was working on a project and showing us, the viewer how to do it... I don't remember much about this episode - except for the hunky guy but I digress.

He had taken a bunch of blocks of wood and made a wooden curtain out of them.  He then attached it to a rod and hung it outside of the bathtub as a divider of sorts.  The blocks had been painted with all kinds of nifty artwork... flowers and plants and leaves... girly crap.  I don’t remember how long ago this episode aired but it must have at least been a couple of years ago.  One dastardly day in November, it all came back to me.. and my Game of Thrones Curtain of Houses was born.

This kind of thing will work with a variety of mediums.  You can paint stuff on the blocks, adhere images (Which is what I did...), stain them all different colors, glue charms on them... whatever floats your boat.  The first thing I needed was a picture of every house sigil I could find... this is where the internet comes in very handy.  Most images are floating all over the internet and are pretty high quality so when you reprint them they look pretty all right.  Plus since I printed them on the smallish side, I didn't need to worry too much about that horrible bloated jpg look.
All in all, I ended up with 53 images, all of the same size.  I copied them into a word document and sized them all so that 8 of them fit onto 1 sheet of cardstock paper.  I chose the thicker paper in hopes that the image would come through more clearly although I'm sure regular paper would work just fine.  After printing them and cutting them out, I ended up with 53 2X3 inch graphics.  To add a little more umph I found another graphic which I printed bigger, about 5X5... "Winter is coming."  Oh yeah it is!!

Now I had 54 pieces of paper and nothing to do with them.  They ended up camping out in an envelope for a while while I got the boards ready... Hope you don't mind a little elbow grease because this is where is gets a little tricky.

I visited my local home improvement store and purchased a huuuugggeeeee long board - 3.5 inches in width (I think... around there...) about 3/4 inches thick and about 8 feet long.  I had the guys cut it down into 3 smaller pieces but not so big that they're sticking out of the back of my truck like a bunch of jerks while I'm driving down the road.  While there, I also grabbed 2 1.5 in dowel rods and about 3 boxes of screw hooks in the smallest size I could find.  By my math, and lets face it my math sucks, I needed 277 screw hooks to complete this project.  I also picked up some poly-crylic in a medium sized can and you'll need some wood stain if you don't have some already.  More about that below...

I'm a lucky girl, I'll tell you that.  I have a miter saw (I think it's called a miter saw... I have a strage obsession with power tools but can't ever keep the names straight...) and with said "whatever" saw, I cut the boards down to 3X3.5 inch blocks.   Oh, and plus one larger block, a smidgeon over 5X5.  Now since I am lacking in anything resembling a work table at my house, I piled all of my cut boards on a 3X4 foot piece of plywood and created a make-shift table on my ottoman.  Hazzah for creativity!

Elbow grease: The art of making grease from your elbows by moving them in a repetitive motion vigorously...

I must have spent HOURS sanding these blocks down.  Now, you don’t have to sand them, but I did just to finish the edges a little better.  I sanded every edge and corner on these things to make them nice and smooth and soft - plus its a great buffer while you're trying to stomach the football on TV since you're watching a team that you don't give a hoot about... An added plus - your hands are covered in tiny grains of wood so you can't really dive into those nachos.

Ok, so they were FINALLY sanded down.  Next, they need to be stained.  I did this in waves since there was so many of them and again, since I don't have anything that resembles a workspace, my kitchen table had to make the sacrifice for me.  Strange that I don’t have a work area though now that I think about it... I make Christmas ornaments every year out of wood, you'd think I'd have something put together by now!  I'm going to save that little nugget of information for later... Anniversary present?  Hmm..

I spread a huge piece of cardboard on my table in layers to make sure that nothing would damage the old thing.  It's old and rickety but it's functional and I like it.  Besides I think I would like it a lot less with huge smears of dark stain all over it.  Because I make ornaments every year I already have an assortment of wood stains but if you need to get some for this project, just get the little cans.  One little can of stain should be plenty for this project.  I also steered clear of the stains that had added varnish.  You don’t need it for this project and without it, your blocks will dry much much faster.   I used a few different colors of stain to give it more variety but they were all dark-ish colors with some slight variations so none really stand out more than another.  I also took this opportunity to stain the wooden dowels that I bought as well. 

Ok, remember those awesome house sigils we printed up?  Now that the blocks are dry, we will need to make them wet again.  This next step will require that polycrylic you grabbed at the store - I use this stuff for everything.  It finishes your ornaments really well and works as a make-shift adhesive too!  Grab yourself a very soft brush - anything too course will peel the image right off your paper and ruin your day.  Working very carefully, one block at a time, put a thick layer of polycrylic over the block and place your sigil in the middle.  It’s important that you cover the front of the block as completely as you can so that the sigil has plenty to grab on to.  Once your sigil is placed, very carefully paint another coat of polycrylic over the top.  Don't apply too much pressure of your sigil will lose some ink.  This is the voice of experience talking to you...

Now that all of your sigils are placed and dry, your blocks are ready for those emmer effing screw eyes... 277 blisterful pain in the fingers screw eyes that will cramp your fingers and make you cuss.  Oh yes, this is the price we pay for fantastic!  You've been warned!

Every block that I created had 4 screw eyes plus the big block.  I placed my screw eyes in a cross like pattern, one at the top center and bottom center, and one on each side approximately 1 inch from the corner.  Over and over and over.... Yes, the blisters came and I cussed a lot but this project is totally worth it.  As of this very moment that I am writing this, no one has anything like this in their house.  And if you succeed on this adventure, you'll join me in the awesome club.

I waited to do the big block until I was almost done connecting the rest of them so that I could measure it out correctly.  Now the fun part - placement and connection!  I divided the sigils into 2 piles with the most popular houses (Stark, Lannister, Greyjoy, etc..) in center closest to where my big block would be.  I didn't really place the rest according to popularity, just tried mostly to avoid to similar sigils too close to each other. I used a pair of pliers to very carefully open the screw eyes and hook them into each other.  Each row was done separately and then hooked together.  My curtain has 3 rows.  Once one side was done, I connected it to one of the dowels with more screw eyes, leaving enough space at the top for one half of my big block. 

When I was done with that joyous task and my fingers were bleeding and I was basking in a pit of self loathing and despair, I measured out where I needed to place the hooks in my big block that would connect both parts of my curtain.  4 hooks to go, you can do this!

Once it was done, I walked away from it and the angels started singing and I swear I saw George R.R. Martin in the clouds smiling at me... I done good.  Oh yes.  But, sadly, I didn't stop there...

So my thought was that this would be hanging up for all to see during GoT season, right but most people don't want it hanging up all the time so what do we do when it's not Game of Thrones season?

I raided my computer for family pictures, that's what!  I grabbed a few of my favorites and left the majority of the blocks blank so I could add more as we shared more momentous occasions... first days of school, weddings, birthdays, etc.  I applied them in the same way that I applied the sigils and I gotta say, it looks pretty awesome. 

We hung it up, Game of Thrones side and stood back... the thing looks freaking amazing.  So we ordered a huge map of Westeros and hung that underneath... guess we won't ever be seeing the family side because we've kinda turned our living room into a "Thrones" room... awesome..

So that's how I made the Curtain of Houses.  Hope yours turns out awesome too!  If not, you can just oogle over the picture of mine... which will be a lot less funny when I actually get it up.


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