The completion of this project marks the end of one of my most long-standing UFOs* -- it languished for eight whole years.
Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy of movies came out when I was in college, and for the three years that Elaine and I shared a dorm room, our walls were wallpapered with LOTR articles, magazine covers, calendar pictures, and other paraphernalia. I wish I had thought to take pictures, but alas, there is no evidence that we ever reached such a level of geekery. At the height of this obsession, I began working on painting the Hollin Gate on a huge piece of canvas. Unfortunately, life and and schoolwork got in the way, and at the end of my junior year I sadly took down my uncompleted project. I had only finished the white outlines and a fraction of the gray background, but I folded up the canvas and stuffed it into a storage bin, and somehow managed not to lose it despite moving eight times in eight years. I always thought I'd finish it someday, but after ROTK came out I lost some of the fervor and consequent motivation. Well, apparently a birthday party is sufficient motivation, because I finally finished it!
|All Christmas-ed up and ready for picture-taking on Saturday!|
|The arch is actually blank, but I cut out runes to say "happy birthday" so that I can change out the greeting depending on the occasion!|
I actually have no idea how I managed to sketch out the design for this on such a large scale; I didn't have a projector or transparency machine to help me out, and the only reference picture I had was the tiny one in my copy of FOTR, but somehow I managed to capture the very recognizable look of the West-gate of Moria. It's a good thing I did such a thorough job those many years ago, because it was quite easy to finish up the painting of this. Probably the most difficult part was pacifying Mr. Cation while this giant canvas took up all of our dining area, as that's the biggest non-carpeted space in our apartment.
|It reaches almost from the floor to the ceiling!|
Materials: Three yards of 54" wide heavy duty cream-colored canvas from the UCSD Bookstore, two 16 fl. oz. bottles of white tempera paint, one 8 fl. oz. bottle of black tempera paint, several different sizes of paintbrush
Time required: I don't remember how much time I put into this in junior year, but it took me about ten more hours to finish painting this. Even though it was just mindless filling in of space, it was tricky mixing the same shade of gray every time, and the canvas was also extremely hard to paint, with all its divots and ability to suck up huge amounts of paint. I managed to watch The King's Speech and listen to several episodes of Radiolab and EscapePod while working on it.
Total cost: A little less than $50, but most of it was so long ago it feels much cheaper than that. $6 in paint, $30 for the canvas, and another $10 in paintbrushes. If I were doing it again now, I would know that canvas can be gotten for much cheaper with coupons at Joann's.
Final thoughts: Last year's Christmas decoration was just a cardboard fireplace...I'm thinking that this is taking the DIY holiday focus piece to a whole 'nother level! Also, unlike the fireplace, which we ended up recycling, this is something I can fold up and keep and bring out at appropriate occasions. When we move to somewhere more permanent, I'd love to actually stretch it out onto a frame so that the edges don't look so grodilated. I thought about binding the edges with some extra-wide bias tape, but I don't much fancy trying to sew through canvas covered with a thick layer of paint.
|Walnut looking especially fuzzy in front of the door.|
Mr. Cation also got me the first Hobbit Lego set: Riddles for the Ring. It's just a tiny set, but I appreciate that Gollum's arms are articulated, as well as the ring's hiding place behind a couple of "rocks." It's also nice that they included an extra ring, because a piece that size is just asking to be lost... LOSSSTTT, my precious! Curse us and crush us, the precious is lost!!!
|Walnut makes a reluctant showroom model.|
|Gollum comes with a nice fish. "Give it to us raw and wriggling! You keep nasty chips!"|
|Lego made minifigs for each of the characters! I love that there's a warg!|