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The Sign To Freak Out!

June 13, 2011

I really could have used one of those British “Keep Calm and Carry On” signs this week.  Or even the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that says “Don’t Panic” in large friendly letters on the cover.  That was, however, not the case.  The only sign I had this week was a sign of crisis, a sign of distress, a sign…to freak out!

My friend, Marlene, was in a jam and needed a business sign painted for a new coffee shop that she is opening in town (much to my husband’s bliss.)  I was super blessed to be able to do it for her.  Or so I thought.  That was before the crisis.  But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.  We got the board (4’X8′) and I had my husband cut scallops out of the corners to give it more of a sign, less of a sheet of plywood look.  Then came the process:  A coat of primer, tan background paint, projecting the image of the logo onto the board and carefully tracing around it, *note, I have no professional sign painting tools – this is all by hand, baby!  Then I proceeded to carefully paint the logo image and lettering, getting the leaf color right on my fourth try.  Remember this, the third time is not always a charm.  Sometimes it is chartreuse.  Thinking the battle of the greens was my one hitch for this project, I went to bed feeling a sense of accomplishment and peace, planning to clear coat the sign the next morning.  Little did I know that the horrible sign disaster of 2011 was about to descend upon me.  Clear coat.  So many choices, brands, and styles.  Instead of going with my gut…because I was super conscientious about wanting this sign to be perfect for Mar, I asked someone for advice.  Usually not a bad idea.  Usually.  Unfortunately in this case it was a monstrous bad idea.  I normally don’t like to bash products but if I ever use a Valspar product again – shoot me.  The offender was Valspar Premium Enamel Clear Gloss.  They are playing fast & loose with their use of the term “Gloss”, let me tell you!

First of all, I usually prefer Krylon and or Minwax products.  Second of all I was iffy about using a spray rather than a brush on sealer.  But, thinking my advice was sound, I sprayed my first layer of this stuff on the sign.  I thought it looked a little hazy but figured that it wasn’t dry.  I left and came back 45 minutes later.  It still looked hazy.  It was dry to the touch.  I started to panic.  As I gave closer inspection I noticed that there was a dry, fine, white powdery substance coating the surface that I could wipe off with my hand. What the?????  I wiped the entire sign off with a clean, soft, dish towel.  It still looked hazy but at least the white powdery stuff was gone.  Panic mounting, I made haste to our local hardware store in need of a miracle. After discussing my dilemma with 3 trusted store employees, I came home with a different spray product, Krylon this time, to test on a separate board first to make sure it would work.  Painted test piece, waited for it to dry, sprayed bad product, waited for it to dry, sprayed new product, waited for it to dry.  Test #1 was a total fail.  The Krylon product reacted negatively with the Valspar product.  I couldn’t blame it, I reacted badly to it as well.  But yellowish blobby formations would not help my hazy sign.  At this moment I went into Winnie the Pooh mode, muttering, “think, think, think” while tapping my forehead.  Of course! It is just because I put such a light coat of the Valspar on, right?  Another coat will make it thicker, more glossy.  That had to be it!  So, yes, I cringe to admit it, I did spray another coat of this offensive product on my sign.  Guess what?  The sign got even hazier.  I mean really really bad, like it had been sitting in a barn for about a year and was covered in dust.  Needless to say my panic meter was going off the chart.  I wiped off more of that white powdery stuff (I use the word stuff but I really mean another short word that also begins with s.)  And the rest of the day alternated between me crying and me swearing like a sailor.  Good thing my husband wasn’t home because he so does not like it when I go all potty mouth.  But like I told him, there truly were no other words that were fitting for that situation.  I then had to call Mar and inform her that she may not have a sign after all. I was dreading the thought of having to start over from scratch. Would all that hard work just go down the drain?  Mar thought I might be over reacting so I asked her to come look for herself. “Oh,” she said, “I see what you mean.” Then on closer inspection, “It’s powdery!?” After my panic was validated by Marlene, I made another trip to the hardware store where, as I should have done to begin with, I went with my gut and bought a brush on Polycrylic.   Another test.  Paint, wait, bad spray, wait, brush on poly, wait.  This is getting ridiculous.  Then I went to check on Test #2 and oh my gosh!!!!!! It worked! What relief! I don’t know how it did it and at this point I don’t even care, but the haze did clear up.  Long story short, two coats of poly later and the sign looks great again! Phew!  I think I need to go lie down now and administer dark chocolate.  P.S. Pictures of the sign are coming soon.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Patti Coleman permalink
    June 13, 2011 7:17 pm

    Gosh what a story, I can just see you trying to figure out what the heck to do. I am sure it is an awesome sign and every time I see it I will think of you!

    • Sandy permalink*
      June 13, 2011 10:50 pm

      Thanks! I sure was sweating bullets there for a while. Thank God it all turned out alright! The sign should be up in the next day or so.


  1. It is Finished! « a very STURDY design

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