Monday, July 1, 2013

The Polytab Method

Youth practicing on the polytab.

One of the innovative features of the Central Identity Project is the method that we are using to paint the mural. Up until now, community murals in Minneapolis have been painted straight onto the wall. But for our mural, we are using a technique called the Parachute Cloth Method, or the Polytab Method, pioneered by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Detail from the 6th floor of the Mozaic Parking Ramp in Uptown, Minneapolis.

Our artist, Greta McLain, was trained in this method in Philadelphia and is using this project to bring the technique to Minneapolis and share it with others. She has used it once already in Minneapolis in her project at the Mozaic Parking Garage/ Art Park Murals in Uptown Minneapolis.

How does this technique work? Imagine it like putting up wallpaper. The design is printed on the polytab using a super big crazy printer. Then we paint. Afterwards, the poly tab is fused to the wall using a super strong gel. The artists work very closely and meticulously during this part of the installation, flattening the polytab on the wall to make sure that no air bubbles are trapped inside. Then layer after layer of a clear gel is painted on top of the polytab to seal it into place.

Why are we using this technique for our project? This technique is ideal for us for a number of reasons. One, this method creates a final product that can better withstand our crazy, below-zero temperature winters. Two, this technique makes it possible for our mural to be painted in a series of community workshops around the neighborhood, as the polytab can be broken up into sections and transported around town.

Finally, this method ensures that everyone can participate, not just those that can climb up onto scaffolding. Because the polytab will be laid out on tables at the workshops, anyone that can stand or sit at a table will be able to make their mark- our elders, individuals in wheelchairs or with a disability that makes it hard for them to stand and small children. We want everyone in the Central neighborhood to have their chance to make their mark!

Want to learn more about this technique? Come to our workshops, or contact us about setting up a time to talk or to volunteer during installation.




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