Chapter 15: I Am The Lord Of The Nurnies!

After I got the electrics and water for the darkroom working, I cleaned everything up and was able to do a shoot using it (and everything was wonderful)    Every time I re-engage the project I can be pretty sure I'll get dust on things, and shavings on the floor, etc - and have to clean it up again. I had a shoot scheduled this weekend that had to cancel so that inspired me to try to push and finish the whole thing off.

It's a bit odd-looking at this stage; the temptation is to wait until it's all done, but I kind of like the time where you can see the partial transformation most clearly. That's when the paint isn't quite on, and you can see the fake stuff mixed with the "real" fake stuff. Paint, as we'll see in a bit, is an amazing leveller, visually.

It took me two days of rabid nurnie-making, cutting foam, drilling "rivet" heads, climbing up and down ladders, and gluing screwing gluing clamping adjusting, etc.

Nurnies take a lot of work to make! I felt positively foolish, a few times, spending huge amounts of time to produce something that's completely useless, weighs about 2 pounds, and is going to be a pain in the neck to paint. But it's time to finish this thing.

Green foam sheeting installed at the head of the room

My vision of the front of the room was to have a bunch of stuff above the enlarger that made it busy but wasn't too distracting. So, I decided on a round thing, with some 'brackets' covered with 'rivets' holding it up. I thought I'd cover the wall with green foam since I a) had a bunch of it and b) it would serve as a moisture and light barrier.

Central disc-oid riveted thingie

Some of the nurnie-making is nearly instant. In this case, I just drew a circle with a piece of string and zipped it out with a reciprocating saw, then went around the edge every 3" and made a hole with a forstner bit, wiped glue in it, and stuck in a plug. Total time to make the circle thingie was maybe 15 minutes. A bit of liquid nails squirted on the back, and bam stick it on the wall. Next! Then I cut a couple bracket-looking things. The shape of the brackets had a certain amount to do with the shape of my left-over pieces of cardboard.

I wanted to have some big braces along the room, cut from 2" green foam, faced with cardboard. This was going to be a bit tricker - 3 stands of braces one each side means 6 braces (2 cut from one sheet of foam) and 12 facings. That's a lot of reciprocating saw-work.

Laying out and cutting a bracket: 5 to go

The nice thing about cutting the foam is you don't have to drill relief holes for the saw blade - just shove the saw right through and let 'er rip! It was pretty quick but extremely messy. As the saw cuts the foam, the "sawdust" gets a static charge that makes it stick to everything. By the time I had cut all 6 of the brackets out, I was covered with green dust.

Designing nurnies is both fun and not fun. On one hand, you can do whatever you want because things don't really have to fit, make sense, or work (which is why steampunk is so popular, apparently) on the other if things don't look right they really look wrong. I did some rough design, and made everything a bit sloppily to give it a weird look. I had to decide whether to make this perfect and clean and crisp - which would have probably been faster: just cut it on the table-saw. I decided that I had plenty of battery power in the iPad and put on The Pogues and sawed for about 3 solid hours (seriously)!

Designing the overlay

I wanted the cardboard overlays to look funky, have a few places for "rivets", and not be too hard to cut. As it was, I was able to cut 3 at a time by stacking the cardboard sheets, clamping them, and letting rip. I had to make the brackets one at a time because 2" thick material was pushing the limits of what I could do with my reciprocating saw. It was very weird to hold these bracket-looking things that weigh about as much as a cup of coffee...

The messy bit came when I made the mounts for the brackets. In order to support them, I cut 2x4s to be 2" wide then mounted them along the ceiling where the brackets would rest. The idea was that the cardboard sides would attach to the 2x4 pieces, and the 2" thick foam brackets would be glued between them. As it happened, that worked pretty well. One of my favorite parts about these projects is figuring out the correct order in which to make and assemble things, allowing glue to dry, etc. Another reason the brackets look the way they do is so that the foam can "float" within the cardboard sides - that way the cardboard can align with the ceiling and the foam with the wall. In the course of this project I discovered that the bathroom is not constructed straight - and decided to embrace that by letting everything just go slightly "off".  (Yes, for the record, I do know how to make stuff straight; it's actually easier) I had hoped to assemble everything just using liquid nails but I found that a little screw attaching the cardboard to the 2x4 was tremendously helpful.

A Quick Diversion

The Door

I took a break and did the door-frame. A few quick-cut strips of cardboard and more "rivets" and some liquid nails.

A quick coat of paint on the door! Shazam!

Back to the Brackets

Starting to Install Brackets

Installing the brackets was fun. Liquid nails on the wall-side, hold it for a minute until it starts to stick, then liquid nails on the cardboard overlay, press it to the 2x4, shoot two screws into it, then press it against the bracket to get it to bond, then do the other side. That sounds simple but it's a lot of trips up and down a ladder, plenty of opportunities to drop things, get glue in your hair, etc, etc.

The Brackets, Installed

It took a couple hours to install the brackets, then cut some key-pieces for the center, and some "riveted" overlays, then get the whole mass curing. All in all, I felt the results were very satisfactory. There's always this moment of fear wondering "will the paint make it look unitary?"  Right now, with all the clashing colors, it does not look at all steampunky.

From this angle you can see what the front of the room looks like, with the circleoid and side-brackets installed! It's all visually very busy and the paint will knock that back considerably.

Paint Hides a Lot Of Ills

Painted Bracket

I didn't finish this paint because my arm, being over my head all day, was limp as a noodle, and I was pretty much "done" for the day. I wanted to see how it would look, though, whether the appearance would have some kind of visual integrity. As it happens I'm pretty happy. The paint looks a bit "off" right now because it was wet when I shot this and the paint is cleverly made to shift color as it dries. That makes it wonderful for determining where I've been. Finishing painting this stuff is going to be a long slog but it'll be a relatively straightforward slog, and when it's done, it's done .

The Front of The Room

My arm was limp as a noodle but I still had paint in my tray and a fresh roller, so I hit the front of the room a bit to fill in large areas like the enlarger stand and the top decor. I'm happy with how the top of the room came out; seeing it all one color makes it look much more consistent.

Next Steps

There are no next steps! Just smear more paint on stuff and it's done!!!! I have a can of transparent silver over-glaze that I plan to sponge-swipe all over the grey surfaces as a final step; that ought to make them look more uneven and metallic. Then, I have a can of kelly green epoxy garage-floor paint that I will do the floor with (last, of course, to hide and drips) once I finish the brackets and walls. I'll have lots of the kelly green left over so I will probably do 2 coats in spots as well as use it on the top deck of the enlarger table and the counter-tops. I think the green will look very industrial in this context.

So - more painting - boring but straightforward, and this project is finished. I started in November 2010 and will be finished before November 2011. I'd have been done a lot sooner except I let everything hang while waiting for the water, which took 6 months longer than it was "expected" to.

I'll post a final update when the last drop of paint is dry.