A Certain Lack of Focus

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Colors of Failure

If you've ever been to Caribou maybe you've noticed the black boards they have on the wall, announcing their coffee specials and daily trivia? Or maybe not, I know I mostly didn't pay any attention until one day when they took it down at the end of the evening to put up the next day's trivia question.

I'd always assumed they were writing on the chalkboard with chalk... silly me. Turns out their chalkboards also work as dry erase boards! Then I assumed that they were using special dry erase markers, but no they assured me, they were normal run of the mill dry erase pens. AND it's magnetic, which is how they stick all the coffee magnets to it. I realize I'm a bit overexcited about this, but I thought this was just the coolest thing ever, or at least the coolest thing involving dry erase markers.

Fast forward a few months, I'm sitting at my desk thinking I'd like to write myself a list... and post it... somewhere convenient. In fact I realized I need a dry erase board. So I set out to get one, but I'll admit I went in knowing I wasn't going to buy one. Because I wanted a BLACK dry erase board.

After a very quick search that revealed, as I suspected, that there were no readily available black dry erase boards for sale, I decided to make one. I started by measuring the space where I intended to hang it, and getting a piece of plywood cut to fit. After drilling holes, I put it up to make sure it fit right.

Then comes the fun part right? I went out and get some magnetic primer and blackboard paint, using the excuse that it would come in handy later when we make a puppet theater (more on this later I hope) and yes I realize that puppet theaters need not be either magnetic or blackboardy but it's called rationalization people. I put on the first coat of magnetic primer. It was rather bumpy and rough (but then it is primer) but I told myself it would work out ok when it was finished. So I washed my brush and waited for it to dry. After a half hour I was able to try it out, the results were a little bit disappointing. The magnet I tried did seem to have some attraction, but not enough to keep it from sliding off, just enough to make it seem sort of reluctant to do so. So I put on another coat. And washed my brush again. And waited for it to dry again. There really wasn't much discernible difference in the magnet's enthusiasm. I checked the label and found out that they expect you to need something like eight coats before it actually does anything, and even then it's not all that dramatic of a magnetic effect. I guess it shouldn't be all that surprising since they must do it by putting little ground up bits of iron into the paint... that can't be all that strong I suppose. So I put on another coat. And washed my brush. Again.After the last coat dried, I could just barely get the magnet to stick, so long as I held the board at a slight angle. I was sick of magnetic paint at this point and although the can claims it's enough to cover a large wall with ten coats, my can was half empty. So I decided the next day I'd start on the blackboard paint.

*Caribou image taken from flickr.

Continued tomorrow, because I'm being called away for the night...

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