Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Jane Austen Skateboard AKA The Darcy Deck

While looking for ideas as to what to make for the Jane Austen crafting exchange for the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice I had with Miss Jessica my eye wandered to this skateboard deck I had had for many years. You might at this time be asking why I had a random skateboard deck just in my office, well, I'll tell you how that came about. A handful of years earlier when I had just started as the secretary of Madison College's Art Club the board thought it would be fun to have a screen printing workshop run by an acquaintance of the club's president. One of his specialties was doing skateboard decks and he offered to sell anyone who wanted one a deck at cost. I couldn't come up with a reason not to get a deck because there were so many interesting designs I saw people doing and I thought it would be fun. It became a fixture in my office that often fell on my foot, usually when I wasn't wearing shoes and as time moved on, more and more of an annoyance that was just taking up space. But then when the crafting exchange came about I knew that the time had comes to use this deck.

One of the first things I remember about Miss Jessica when I met her was that she was a skater. There was a time when I visited her in New York and she was getting back into it and I actually went shopping with her for a new helmet at this way trendy store in Times Square. Why it took this crafting exchange for me to connect my blank deck with a present for her is beyond me. Originally I had this idea of just having her favorite Austen quote done up in fancy hand-lettering that a friend and fellow Madison College student was doing for me but in the end, what with the squareness of the workable area, I decided to go for a more graphic old time advertisement approach similar to a design I had submitted to Madison's Frosty Dog Jog a few years earlier. I already had many of the icons I ended up using from doing The Jane Austen Centre brochure redesign for a class assignment. What I added was not just a story of Jane's life, but many of the recurring jokes that Miss Jessica and I over the years shared about Jane Austen and the various adaptations her work had spawned. This finished design has such jokes as Mr. Hurst's nickname being Fatty Fat Buckle. Seriously, just watch how he "sits" on a couch in the 1995 miniseries and you'll understand why. As for the "Dancing" and "British" you must shout the former when they say it on screen and the latter when a particularly British male dancer appears! The key is usually their teeth.

Originally I was going to do this all by wood burning, and even bought a nifty wood burning kit. The thing is I had never actually done any wood burning up to this point and I was on a tight deadline as I was seeing Miss Jessica in a few weeks and I really didn't have time to master it. Because, to say that my first attempt was dreadful is an understatement. I quickly saw there would be no way to maintain the thin lines and the delicacy of the type. What was interesting though is that the process for transferring the design onto the wood actually looked really good. You print an inversion of your design and then get it photocopied. The key is that it has to be a photocopy because it needs the static and the heat set on the paper which you will then transfer onto the board using the wood burning kit you have not bought in vain. And this looked really cool. Of course because of the wood burning snafu I had had to sand some sections and this distressing that resulted looked even cooler. Therefore I decided to just go with it, distressing some sections, emphasizing others. And yes, I did add gesso. Because, if you haven't guessed by now gesso is one of my most favorite things in the world and can literally be used for and on anything. After the gesso had dried I then sealed the deck and now it hangs proudly on Miss Jessica's wall, showcasing her love of Austen and her love of skateboarding. Two things that you'd think would cancel each other out but just make her that much cooler. 


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