You guys, it's a do-it-yourself tutorial. From me! Yes, this is a first. It even (SPOILER) has a happy ending.
We've got this website here, Okinawa Yard Sales, that's sort of the Craig's List of Okinawa. (There is a Craig's List for Okinawa, it just doesn't get much use.) Pretty much as soon as we moved into our house, I started checking for patio furniture. Most of it was really expensive. Shockingly so. But then I found a set for $50 that looked pretty good. Table and four chairs, little rust. Looked like it would fit my criteria of "I could drag it into the storage room by myself in the event of a typhoon while Raj is gone." I went for it. I even talked her all the way down to $48 since that was all the American dollars I had in my possession. And I got free delivery of the table thrown in since it wouldn't fit into my Passo by about one inch. Fortunately, the owner had a van.
Upon further inspection, there was kind of a lot of rust. As the furniture was cream-colored, the rust really stood out, too. So I thought I'd spray paint it. The chairs have what the internet calls sling style seats, woven plastic. Here's the only before picture I have, taken from inside for the purpose of texting.
A couple of internet people said once you take those sling seats off to spray paint the frames, they never go back on right. Then another person said she tried to tape and cover the seats in plastic but that didn't work, the paint bled through, and everything was ruined forever. What to do? The answer was this special Rustoleum paint that adheres to everything! Metal! Plastic! Squirrels! (The first two, anyway.) I would buy that product and use it for both the frames and seats. Easy. Assuming the Exchange carried it.
And they did! In bright red, orange, yellow, and blue. So I re-examined my options. I considered asking the neighbors to borrow a wrench so I could remove the seats, but the extent of the rusting over led me to believe I wouldn't be able to get them off anyway. So I bought Scotch Blue Painter's Tape and hoped for the best.
First, I sanded off as much of the rust as I could. Then I double-taped everything. I did one line of tape placed very precisely, then a second taping to hold plastic over the seats. Here's one chair midway through the process.
This took a while. The curvature of the seats meant I had to use lots of small pieces of tape to get it lined up in the crevasse there. And let us not speak of taping off the glass on the table. Once that was done, I started making enemies of all of our neighbors priming and painting in our back yard. These are the products I used. That primer is pretty potent stuff and should really only be used outdoors, I think.
Here's a tip from me to you: before you begin a spray painting project, figure out how much paint you will need. Then buy twice that much. You'll thank me when you, unlike me, do not have to stop during both the priming and painting stages to go back to the store. Eventually, I did get everything primed.
And I do mean everything. My black flip flops are the casualty of this project. I didn't think to put footwear suitable for painting in our express shipment. Oh bummer, now I have to go shoe shopping. Tip #2: Should you forget to put your flip flops on during one phase of priming and discover that the soles of your feet are coated in primer, you can get that right off in the shower with a pumice stone and a little elbow grease.
It poured rain overnight (as it did most afternoons and evenings during this entire project) but that turned out to not cause any problems. Though I'm learning that Okinawa is pretty much perpetually windy, which made holding the spray can far away to apply light and even coats tricky if not, at times, impossible. Fortunately, I managed to avoid drips (as far as I've seen anyway) despite my less than ideal technique.
Finally, the moment of truth: removing the tape. Would everything be ruined forever?
Nope. There was one spot where some primer had bled through the trash bag, but it came right off with some nail polish remover. (That lantern there is Off! brand and has a candle to warm some mosquito repellant stuff. The three bites I got while outside just long enough to take this picture tell me that we're going to need a bigger lantern. Or several. A fleet of lanterns. Or bats.)
And so, we have a successful project! From me! Sure, it's possible that by the time I bought spray paint, primer, sand paper, tape, and gloves* (and including the future purchase of black flip flops) we may not have really come out very far ahead of just buying new patio furniture, financially speaking. And the benefit to the environment of reusing rather than buying new may be more than offset by the amount of crap I sprayed into the air. But it did give me something to do with my copious amounts of free time while Raj was gone. And at least a teensy amount of justification for all of the Yard Crashers and Curb Appeal I watched during some of those other hours. It was educational!
(*Turns out the gloves are also really good for opening jars when your hands are slippery because you've been cooking with butter. So their usefulness is not confined to this project.)
I have to say, given the lack of control I have over other things, such as the hiring freeze and Raj's deployment schedule, it was nice to take on something small that could be completed fairly quickly and have something to show for it at the end. Now I'm eyeing the rest of our stuff to see what needs painting next. The Ikea Malm dresser my former roommate left behind, for instance. I think it might want to be red. Though my Swedish is a little bit rusty.