Re: Flat Black

Dennis Storzek

On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 08:40 PM, Jon Miller wrote:
    While I don't doubt any of the explanations for the pictures. I am interested in the first  2 of Tim's photos.  Why is the lettering black.  Did they spray it with wash off paint to have the black letter remain? 
A comment... May people have mentioned "spray." I'm going to take the position that very few shops were spray painting in the first decades of the twentieth century, and the spray equipment that was in use was more a pump to get the paint up on the work. The paint was then finished with a brush.

Calcimine can be over coated with oil based paints and stencil pastes, and still wash off. A common problem encountered in renovating buildings in urban areas is finding that the walls and especially ceilings had been painted with calcimine at some point, then repainted with successive coats of oil based paints. The modern trend of using water based latex emulsion paints introduces enough water to the surface, and holds it there long enough, that the calcimine loosens up and all the subsequent layers of paint come off in sheets. One of the reasons that renovation contractors typically cover EVERYTHING with drywall; letting the painters start with a clean fresh surface.

My favorite wash-off paint story... For a number of years back in the eighties I worked for the Chicago Transit Authority, often at Wilson Ave. in the Uptown neighborhood. There is a multistory brick building that backs up very close to the tracks, the roof line being just perfect for a flying leap to the top of a moving elevated train. The stunt has been done several times, in more than one movie.

The building had, for years and years, rather decrepit windows, while I was up there the neighborhood started to gentrify and all the windows were replaced with modern double glazed units with bronzetone aluminum trim. About two years after this was done, along comes another movie company that wants to use the building to film the 'leap.' So, in come painters in bucket trucks, who paint all the window frames a dingy gray, with purple-gray highlights dry brushed on the flat surfaces to make them look weathered. It took them about three weeks (the building was a city block long.) They then shot the scene in a day between the morning and evening rush hours.

The next day the bucket trucks were back, and they pressure washed all the gray paint off.

If there is a financial reason that justifies the expense, temporarily painting something, then washing it clean, is easy to do.

Dennis Storzek

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