I was over at Annie’s ACE Hardware today (home of my Petworth/DC neighborhood maps windows) and had someone ask me exactly how these had gotten onto the windows in the first place.

“Do you do these, you know, on the computer or something?”

So you want to know how this got done? Well, I’ll show you. Interestingly enough, pretty much none of this was done on the computer!

Anne gave me a great deal of flexibility and control over the designs for the windows. She liked the idea of vintage elements, classic seed packets, bright colors (the building is beige and black), and neighborhood pride. The start of every mural project (and many design projects) is an illustrated plan, drawn to scale, so my clients can start to visualize exactly what their piece will look like and make adjustments.

Drawing and inking with my favorite Faber-Castell archival ink pens.

Starting the color process using Prismacolor pencils.

The finished plans were colorful and and reflected the vintage aesthetic Anne was going for. Still, there were a few revisions…

Anne decided that the right panel was too floral for a hardware store, and we decided to replace it with paints (their store has a huge paint section which I take advantage of on a regular basis), and to change the center panel to something more simple. We also needed smaller icons along the bottom to represent bike items, pet supplies, and hardware.

From here we moved on to painting. The pieces were painted on large boards (3’x6’ish) with Liquitex artist acrylics. I used blue painters tape (one of my favorite tools) to help create straight lines, so I could insure the map was drawn exactly to geographical scale.

After the lines were drawn out, sections were painted in a variety of different colors. Large named streets are all in white, but the line divisions between the colors in individual city blocks also show the alleyways that snake behind the buildings in our neighborhood, dividing each block up even further.

You can see the boards pre-checkering and pre-labeling (plus an exceptionally messy palette and the mural plan behind it) – they look so empty without names!

The finished set of Petworth window murals and plans with all revisions and finished copies. You can see how these changed and then how they moved from mural plan-size to full-size. You can also see my super-set of Sharpie markers and a congratulatory adult beverage off to the right. The Park View, Crestwood, and Brightwood maps followed shortly thereafter, when a plan for a historic photo to be in the third window fell through.

But how did they get from boards that fit in my living room to giant 12ft wide windows? We decided to apply them to the glass as window clings, so that they would let natural light through (and also have a gorgeous ‘stained glass’ effect), which required taking ultra-hi-res shots of each of the panels, digitally touching them up in Photoshop, then sending off to the printer to be turned into massive window clings.

The clings came rolled up in a giant cardboard roll, and Anne and I spent a chilly January day up on ladders in the (then empty) hardware store space, applying these things to the inside of her windows!

Yes, that’s me.

These are (unfortunately) blocked by shelves now out of necessity, but check out how beautiful they look with the light coming through them!

So there you go – the whole process behind the maps. You can see the windows from the outside over at Annie’s ACE Hardware (1240 Upshur St NW, in Washington DC). Go visit, it’s a fantastic store and a great addition to the neighborhood. There are also prints of all of the maps available in store! And yes, I know I left plenty of Petworth folks off of the Petworth map. Petworth was one shape, and Annie’s windows were another. I’ll fix it next time.

So, which other projects would you like a peek into the process behind? Leave me a comment and let me know!