Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spy Silhouette and White Board Project


Hey there, Homies!  Welcome back!!  I want to share with you a couple of projects that I completed over the last couple of weeks, the first of which I’m actually concerned about sharing.  In the wake of the recent senseless movie theatre massacre, I’m hesitant to promote this silhouette of my son holding a gun.  This project has been in the works for several weeks and my son is very proud of it.  He has also been very excited about the idea of me sharing it with you because it is oh-so-spy-like.  It is also a perfect addition to his spy room seen here: Tween Spy Room - my first ever blog posting.   I decided that, rather than explain to him about the tragedy and fill his mind with such disturbing news, we would go ahead with this post as planned.  I hope no one finds it offensive or insensitive.  It is certainly not meant as such.

The idea of a spy silhouette came to me when I was creating this spy-themed room.   But with the deadline of the spy themed birthday party quickly approaching, which was when he would reveal his new room to his friends, a few of the remaining projects got put on hold (and then forgotten about) until after the party. The spy room was already really cool without the last little projects completed, so I guess they ended up at the bottom of the priority list.  I like to do things in stages anyway so I can ponder different ideas before making a final decision.  At least that’s what I tell my husband when he kids me about not completing the last 5% of projects. 

Of course, the silhouette idea is not a new idea.  I remember my mom and grandmother having silhouettes of my brothers and sister hanging on their walls.  My siblings are all close in age, and their silhouettes were done at the same time, before I was born.  Don’t worry, I was not intentionally left out of the silhouette thing.  It’s all good!  I think silhouettes are just lovely, classic, traditional, and a great family heirloom.  And it’s AMAZING how much the profiles look like their subjects!  Over the years, I have also seen a lot of black wooden lawn silhouettes of animals, people, etc. - you know the ones - and they always make me smile.  So, I decided to try my hand at a silhouette cut-out of my little spy using 1/8 inch plywood (because I had a nice scrap of that in my scrap pile) - sort of like a lawn silhouette for inside the house!  I guess when my son grows out of the spy theme, I can always stand that guy out in the yard to ward off intruders! LOL
To make this guy, I started by taping a large piece of craft paper to the wall where I wanted the silhouette to hang. In this case, I wanted the silhouette to be facing the doorway and/or hallway, as if he were guarding the door.  What a messy magnet board hiding behind the door!!!


Next, I had my little spy-in-training stand in front of the paper.


After the shades were closed and the lights turned off, I positioned a flashlight to make the shadow fit onto the craft paper. I ended up having my son stand on a stool because, with the angle of the flashlight, only half of his legs were showing in the shadow and we wanted him to appear taller. My son wore one of his fedoras (Yes, he has more than one.  He’s so cool!) and held his cap gun for this spy silhouette. Although he’s wearing shorts, when I traced the silhouette, I made him appear to be wearing a trench coat.


After the shadow was centered on the craft paper, I took a pencil and outlined the shadow. Getting this boy to stand still was definitely the hardest part!  I finally had to put my hand on his shoulders to hold him still while I traced.


It wasn’t a perfect trace, so I just sketched in the parts that didn’t quite line up. If you don’t know this little guy, I can tell you that it is a perfect profile of his face. I was amazed at how much it looked like him!  So cool!

Next, I cut out the silhouette and placed it on the plywood, being careful to avoid knots and splits on the front and back of the plywood that might interfere with the jigsaw cuts.


When I got the silhouette placed where I wanted it, I used a few pieces of tape to keep it from moving around, and simply traced it onto the plywood with a pencil.


It just so happens that there was an outlet located in the spot we chose for the spy to stand (of course).  I traced over the outlet at the same time that I traced the silhouette just to get an idea of where it was, but my tracing lines weren’t perfect.  So I measured the distance of the outlet from the top of the baseboard, and measured the height and width of the outlet.  It’s nice to take photos so I don’t have to write down the measurements.  If I don’t do one of the two, I forget EVERYTHING by the time I make it back out to the garage.


Using a square tool against the side of the plywood to make sure the spy was standing straight and level, I drew the bottom of the silhouette which will sit atop the baseboard.


Then I slid the square tool up the plywood just a bit to mark the bottom of the outlet, and then marked the top of the outlet.  As you can see below, my original line from tracing was not straight. 


The next part stumped me for a minute.  I wanted to make sure the vertical lines of the outlet were straight and square.  Initially, I just held the square in place, but since one side of the square tool has a lip to hang over the side of a board, it didn’t sit flat onto the plywood and I was concerned the outlet hole would look like it was leaning.  Then I remembered we had another flat square tool (without the lip) and came up with this idea!


I kept the first square in place, aligned against the edge of the plywood, which I used to give me horizontal straight lines.  To get the vertical straight lines, I used the other flat square to lay flat against the first square.  I could have just used the flat square and eyeballed it, but this way was sure to give perfect 90 degree corners. 

After I had everything traced in pencil, I outlined it again with a Sharpie.  When cutting things out of wood, sometimes pencil marks become hard to see, especially when covered in saw dust.  Since this piece was going to be painted, the Sharpie marks were not an issue and made cutting much easier. 

Isn’t he cute?


I used a jigsaw to cut out the silhouette.  I learned the basics of using a jigsaw in a woodworking class I took once.  The main thing you need to know is that it cuts pretty much just in a straight line.  But you can cut slight curves if the curve is gradual.


Otherwise, you have to cut in sections.  In the photo below, when I got to the curve of the hand, I had to stop and come in from another angle. 


Some of the smaller areas that are hard to reach with the saw blade can be cut by simply making several small cuts perpendicular to the line you are trying to cut, instead of ON the line, until the piece is gone.  (Below).  I hope that makes sense.  Any rough areas can be sanded down.


At the end, some areas were impossible to cut because the jigsaw was bouncing the board so much that the jigsaw wouldn’t catch the wood and cut.  And the only place to hold the board steady enough for the blade to catch and start cutting was just too close to the jigsaw for me and I didn’t want to lose any fingers.  Drilling holes in the plywood allowed me a better, steadier place to start my cuts. 


That’s also how you start cutting out in the middle of a board, as opposed to starting at the edge, like when cutting out for the outlet hole below.


O.M.G.!  It looks just like him!


My little spy LOVES his spy shadow!  Let's not even talk about the hair, please.


Using various sanding tools, I sanded out the rough edges.


After a couple of coats of black paint, it was ready to hang. 

I drilled pilot holes in the silhouette so that the plywood wouldn’t split when I screwed it into the wall.  Also, I used my stud finder to determine where the studs were, which determined where the screws holes needed to be.


So now this spy shadow guards the door to the spy room.  I love how it turned out!  Now I'm thinking of some other cool things to cut out of plywood.  Just think of all the possibilities!!


The thing I like best about this spy shadow is that it reminded me of something that I hadn’t thought about in 10 years, and probably would have never thought about again if I had not worked on this project.  It was the day my son first saw his shadow when he was a toddler.  We were playing in the driveway and he looked up and saw his own shadow on the garage door.  He tried to walk away from it but it followed him and he got so scared and started crying.  Of course, I thought it was so funny, and thought he was so cute, and I tried to explain to him about shadows.  I made my shadow appear on the garage door too, and we jumped up and down and made our shadows do silly things.  After that, he liked shadows.  At bedtime, we learned to make shadows on the wall using our fingers and a flashlight.  I forgot all about that until now.  Sweet memories. 

Before I go, I’d like to highlight one other project in this room that was put on hold and that I can now mark off the list…..…….the white board. 


The white board idea was intended to camouflage the secret door to the weapon cache, making it look like “just a white board". 


I bought the white board kit when we modified the bed, at the beginning of the remodel, but it just didn’t get done.  I simply removed the door from the hinges so that I could lay it flat, taped off the area that I wanted to be a white board, mixed the product, and rolled it on.  This product has a pretty long dry time so I did give it about a month to dry, just to make sure it was cured.   We had some rainy weather which increases the cure time, and since that paint is quite smelly, I left it out in the damp garage to cure.  Then I simply used Velcro to attach the white board markers to the left side of the door – SO  NO ONE WOULD GET CONFUSED AND USE THE WRONG MARKER!


For some reason, the little notes I keep leaving on this board keep getting erased. Smile  I guess they're not very spy-like notes.

The last thing I have planned for this room is a storage/file cabinet for under the desk.  I’m on the lookout, I just haven’t found the perfect thing yet, in the perfect size, at the perfect price.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you like the way these little projects turned out as much as this Home Girl does.   Mission Accomplished!
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