Georgia and Daughter have been blogging for exactly one year this month. We have loved and cherished every moment of crafting, painting, and dreaming. We’ve had some incredible opportunities. From inspiring readers, opening our booth and starting a side business, we would never have dreamed of accomplishing those things but are beyond thrilled with the experiences. However, an opportunity arose a few months ago and we are still a little shocked about the whole thing! Here is Daughter’s account of the entire story from beginning to end!
A few months ago, one of our dear friends and fellow Baby Blues, Kelley, mentioned that she was one of the project leaders for an upcoming 2014 Sustainability Summit in May. She had an idea for an artistic team building project and that I might be able to help. She said it so casually that I didn’t think much of it until weeks later, when we were sitting across dinner sharing margaritas discussing the art project. Did we mention that Kelley works for Coca-Cola?
Wow! Talk about nerves. I’m confident in my crafting abilities, my painting skills but I AM NOT a trained artist. I took loads of art classes in high school. I have a minor in Art History from UGA. I’m a wiz with the glue gun. But I repeat, I am not a skilled, refined artist. However, Kelley was willing to go out on a limb for me, so I put away my anxiety and gave it my best shot.
So here is the low down of the Coca-Cola Inspiring Change 2014 Sustainability Summit:
“The Coca-Cola Inspiring Change 2014 Sustainability Summit, held May 5-7 at both Kennesaw State and The Westin Peachtree Plaza, includes speakers, demonstrations and panel discussions regarding sustainable practices intended to advance knowledge and grow this environmentally responsible movement”
For the Summit, Kelley envisioned a large 10′ x 8′ sign to be placed on the KSU barn at their Hickory Grove Farm. She wanted it to be a ‘paint by numbers’ activity for attendees to complete on site. Those were my instructions. Simple, direct but somewhat vague. She gave me total creative freedom.
I started thinking, tinkering, researching. I wanted to respect the sustainability mission that both Coke and KSU were passionate about. I decided old barn wood would serve as the perfect back drop for the sign.
I have never bought anything off Craigslist. Granted, I have browsed and inquired but never went through with a purchase. I went online and found a couple located in Braselton, GA selling barn wood. After exchanging emails, my family and I drove down and looked at the aged barn wood. The wood was aged, weathered, perfectly imperfect and the right length and size! According to the sellers, the Southern Yellow Pine wood came from a farm in Athens, Georgia built around 1906. The boards were hand milled on site and removed by hand. The barn stood for more than 100 years and now will have a renewed purpose. We loaded up the wood and headed home!
My father-in-law owns a construction company and was generous to donate his workshop space and labor to help build and store the sign. The men used pressured treated 1″ x 6″ lumber for braces on the back. When the sign was completed, it took 4 grown men to move it!
The Logos & Paint
Kelley sent over three logos to be painted on the massive sign: Kennesaw State University, 2014 Sustainability Summit and “transform tomorrow.”
Again, I wanted to maintain the mission of the Summit so I researched environmentally friendly paints. Major paint companies have made great strides in producing ‘green’ paint and you can find several options at most home improvement stores. However, I found that milk paint would serve our mission best. I used Old Fashioned Milk Paint for their natural ingredients and core mission. Old Fashioned Milk Paint is made from natural materials including milk protein (casein), crushed limestone, clay and earth pigments. (Source: Old Fashioned Milk Paint)
The paint is bought in powder form and water is added to create the paint. This was my first attempt at using Milk Paint (I will post another article regarding the technique) and I definitely had a learning curve! We used Salem Red, Marigold Yellow, Tavern Green, Federal Blue, and Snow White. I asked the great folks at The Green Bean Exchange A LOT of questions about the paint, finish, technique, clear coat, etc. They were beyond helpful!
Since Kelley wanted this to be a team building activity, she only wanted me to paint the logo outlines. I sat staring at the blank sign for about 30 minutes deciding on position and scale. I divided the board into halves, split vertically right down the middle and then into thirds horizontally.
I used chalk to free-hand the logos. Thankfully, chalk is forgiving and I used a hand broom as my eraser. It took most of an afternoon. The boards were sturdy as I walked all over the sign!
After finishing the chalk outline, I committed to the paint outline. No looking back!
The Big Reveal
On the last day of the Summit, Kennesaw State University hosted the participants at their Hickory Grove Farm. If you are not familiar with the award winning KSU Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitably program, click here for more information. The program is impressive! Everything was perfection – the setting, the food, the staff, the projects.
Participants enjoyed a delicious meal rooted in their core mission, farm to table. I loved, loved their slogan, “Plow to Chow.” Everything was delicious but the brisket was the most divine.
After lunch, participants were encouraged to assist in a few farm projects. They planted 75 apple trees, created rain barrels, painted a chicken coop, and built raised vegetables beds.
I was inspired by their reuse of old tires as planters!
I couldn’t resist the KSU Farm Puppies: Bacon and Eggs. I could have played with them all day!
I positioned myself as the ‘rest’ activity. We propped the sign up against a fence and guests took their turn painting different sections of the sign.
The sign really came alive after a few coats of paint!
Everyone seemed to enjoy the painting process and the sign. I took it as a compliment when almost all of attendees took several photos of the sign and used it as their photo backdrops. Words cannot express how much I enjoyed this project and the event!
I left a gallon of Polyurethane with the KSU staff for sealing. I also left the remaining paint cans, in case their students wanted to keep painting. I can’t wait to see a picture of the barn wood sign on the side of an actual barn!
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to buy, haul, assemble, paint and haul again a 10′ x 8′ sign. A special thank you to Laura who sold me the barn wood, The Green Bean Exchange staff, my mom and dad – who hauled the wood from Braselton to Gainesville to Kennesaw, and my father- and uncle-in-law for their talented woodworking skills. A special thank you to my husband who was truly the best assistant. You have the patience of Job.
Also, a huge thank you to Kelley! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for trusting me with this project and I hope I made you proud! This project will go down in the record books as the most exciting, challenging and fulfilling project. It came out exactly as I had envisioned in my mind.