Sunday, April 28, 2013

Three Months ... One Rain Barrel

Splish! Splash! Another rain drop hit my dash as I was driving to Cincinnati last week. On Thursday, April 18th I drove to the Cincinnati Zoo to check out the newest exhibit at the Go Green Garden – the Rain Barrel Exhibit and Auction. This day was the culmination of three months of planning, painting, and hard work and was an exciting day for all involved.

[see the Rain Barrel Event at the Cincinnnati Zoo]:
This semester I took on one large project through the Rivers Institute: transforming a very large Rain Barrel from plain brown to an intricate map of the communities around Dayton and the surrounding rivers that connect us.

[see picture of the Rain Barrel at the Beginning]:

 We started this project at the end of last semester with our application for a barrel and creating our design. After hearing so much about the River Mobile and getting our first glimpse at a recent River Steward class we decided to use the map from the side of the River Mobile and sketch it onto the barrel as best we could. We also wanted to involve all the stewards in this project so we planned to have the stewards paint their handprints on the remainder of the barrel – to show how we are all connected – the people and the rivers.

At the end of January our huge rain barrel was dropped off on our doorstep and we started work right away. Cue sanding, priming, priming, and painting the barrel white 3 or 4 times… Then our barrel was finally ready to receive our sketch. This was the hard part – taking a map from the side of a tractor trailer, shrinking it to 2X3 feet, and attempting to sketch & trace it onto a 3D 60-gallon drum. After several days and nights of sketching and erasing, darkening lines and redrawing buildings so they weren't falling over… we were pretty satisfied with our sketch – I would say it turned out pretty fantastic for a couple of mechanical engineers and a biology major!

[see pictures: the sketching process & the finished sketch on the barrel]:

 Next steps: paint EVERYTHING! For the next month we painted and painted and sometimes painted ourselves more than the rain barrel. We painted UD’s chapel, the 5 rivers in Dayton, the Dayton Art Institute, the headwaters near Tory/Piqua, and much more.

[see picture of finished barrel]:
Then we gathered numerous stewards into our studio and painted their handprints on the two-thirds of the barrel that were remaining.

[see picture of steward handprints]:
The final steps were to paint a thin coat of sealer on the whole barrel to protect our beautiful design from the elements [since a Rain Barrel collects rain, it has to be outside to work properly]! Then the unveiling event finally arrived – on April 18 – and I was able to see all the Rain Barrels that were up for auction at the Cincinnati Zoo. We were actually lucky and our Rain Barrel was bought / sponsored at the beginning of the whole process! A UD alum who currently lives in Cincinnati liked our sketch / plan for the barrel and purchased it before we began painting it!

[see picture of me on stage with the Rain Barrel; see picture of the other Rain Barrels up for auction]:

I had such a wonderful time working on this project this semester. I was actually cooping this semester in Troy so I wasn't on campus that much but this project was the perfect way for me to be still very involved with the River Stewards. I also really enjoyed how much fun painting the barrel was. I haven’t ever painted on such a large scale before and I would say it turned out very well! This project also really highlighted the “interdisciplinary” nature of the Rivers Institute and I hope I can be involved in similar projects like this in the future!

Can’t wait to go kayaking this summer – who knows, maybe I’ll be painting a kayak next!

River Love,
Abigail Spohn
Mechanical Engineering

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