Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Activist Wheatpaste toolkit

An Activist Wheatpaste Toolkit

What You Will Need:
In Summary:

1. Posters
2. Portfolio/tube/backpack
3. Bucket/squirt bottle
4. Paint Brush/Paint Roller
5. Rags/Sponges
6. 6 in 1 painting tool *
7. Disposable latex gloves*
8. Transportation

Breaking it down:

1. Posters to inspire the populace to RISE UP
2. Something to carry the posters in: a large portfolio case big enough to accommodate a 24" x 24" poster is Ideal. However, One could be made out of cardboard and tape. Handles can be fashioned out of rope. Another option is a large diameter cardboard tube, but this is not ideal as access is a little difficult. What you want is something that will keep the posters from getting trashed before they make it to the Wall, but be easy to access in a hurry. This is where an assistant can be helpful.
3. A vessel to carry wheatpaste in. Some people like to use a bucket with a lid and a handle. Others prefer a squirt bottle such as a dish soap container. It depends on the volume of work you expect to distribute. And your personal style.
4. A means for applying the paste such as a wide paintbrush, the wider the better, but of course, silly, dont make it wider than the opening in your chosen vessel. Some people like to use a paint roller, in which case, you definitely would require a 5 gallon bucket to accommodate the roller. You could use a brush broom, the pole can help with reaching a higher spot on a wall, which makes it harder for the underpaid worker to remove it later, so they will get paid more because it will take longer. (down with Capitalism!)
5. Rags are great to have because it can get really messy, also you can use the rag to smooth the poster down after it's glued up. Sponges ditto, although it's harder to wipe your hands off on a sponge. I guess that's what jeans are for.
6. 6 in 1 painting tool is optional. I love this tool, though. Google it. You can use it to remove staples, screws, nails or other crap that will get in the way of a smooth surface for the Poster to adhere to.
7. Disposable Latex Gloves can be useful if you are a neat freak. I never use them. But my hands are shot already, Wheatpaste is terribly sticky and will make your hands ashy in a heartbeat.
8. Transportation. There are many methods of transporting ourselves. My favorite is a cargo bike. Walking is pretty great, though. You can use a push cart to carry the supplies. Or a car, but cars are not easy, parking is an issue. It's up to personal style, the important part is that you make a conscious choice, taking into consideration how much distance you want to travel, how can you carry the goods, what looks the least suspicious to GP. (general pubic)
Wheatpaste is Amazing.
There are many variations on ingredients.
Bleached White Flour
Wood Glue
Wall paper Paste
Corn Starch

I prefer Wall Paper Paste & Wood Glue Combo, but those are not the cheapest ingredients

I normally never measure anything, I go by intuition and consistency.
For the sake of this Skill Share, however, I will suggest a recipe I just got off the interweb:

1 cup of Bleached flour
1/2 cup of rice flour
3 teaspoons of cornstarch
2 cups of water
I would highly recommend putting Wood Glue, like Elmer's in this mix. It makes the posters stronger and more weather resistant.
If this is not enough, double the proportions or triple them.
The important part if you are using flour is that you have to heat it up, cook it, really, in order for it to get really smooth and thoroughly dissolved. Find your jam, become one with the wheatpaste, man.
Use a metal whisk to get rid of the chunks and blobs. What you want is something like a rue if you are a chef, you know what I mean. You want it to be thick like a smoothie, but thin enough to paint with.
Clean out your pot before it dries or else you'll be out a cooking pot.
Street Etiquette
Where to Paste Up
Strangely enough, many people consider decorating the world to be "vandalism" We disagree. However, within this basic fundamental difference in values, we do discern from disrespectful and respectful choices of appropriate locations to paste.

1. Never go over other Artist's Work. This is just plain disrespectful. You will also start a war with that person, whether you intend to or not. Do Not Do This. Especially if the work you are Pasting up Is not Yours. The person who designed the poster, signed it, wishes to remain in the good graces of the community of street artists, so PLEASE DO NOT PASTE OVER OTHER'S ARTWORK. Exception: If there is other work already partially covering it, work with it. Think: Collaborative Collage
2. If there is a shit ton of Posters on a wall advertising an Event, this is the one exception to the above rule. That, is not exactly "Art", although one could make the argument that advertising is an artform, for the sake of this skill share, it is NOT
3. Do Not Paste on Businesses, Banks, Bus Stop Shelters, Cars, Trucks, People or small dogs. Again, think RESPECT. Also think: SURVELLIENCE CAMERAS
4. DO Paste onto Construction Walls, Condemned Buildings, Funky Doorways, Bridges have some cool spots. The best surface is WOOD. Second Best is METAL. Do not paste onto Glass or Plastic. Concrete sucks for wheatpasting. It's too bumpy, you wont get a good connection, the poster wont last as long.
5. Look for unscrubbed places with lots of layers of Graffiti. If it looks like it's been there awhile, that's a good sign. That means it doesn't get scrubbed very often and the Poster will stay up longer. The Goal is to find places to paste that has good visibility but also will last a long time.
6. If there are staples, nails or screws obstructing the smoothness of the surface, do Use the Metal Scraper. I can't recommend the 6 in 1 tool enough. It's the Shit.
This is my method. If you find a method that works better for you, DO IT! This is YOUR TIME TO SHINE!
I roll up to a spot, feel the wall, if there are staples, I take them out with the above mentioned 6 in 1 tool. Scrape the wall down to make it as smooth as possible. Take out a poster and lay it face down on the sidewalk. Paint the wheatpaste on the back of the poster generously and then paint onto the surface of the wall, in an area slightly larger than the Poster. Next, take the poster and position it on the wall, smoothing it out with your sponge or rag or bare hands depending on how feral you are feeling. Paint a layer of wheatpaste over the top of the Poster. That's right, right on the face of it. This helps to seal it. Make sure all the corners and edges are really well adhered, this is IMPORTANT to the longevity of the Poster! Smooth out all the air bubbles and hair bubbles. Hair bubbles dont exist, silly.
Give it the once over to make sure it's adhered well to the wall. Stand back and admire it, but not for too long! Move to the next location!
It's great to have a companion or two, to help with look out and prepping the wall, but don't get paranoid. Most important: Have Fun and be relaxed. Cops have a nervousness radar. Don't set their radar off.
Wheatpasting can be easily done alone. You don't have to worry too much.
Going to jail is not the worst thing that could happen, just remember that retina scans are voluntary! Carry pouches of mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper with you. Also write phone numbers on a piece of paper and stick it in your pocket.
If people start talking to you while you are working, either ignore them or politely ask them to move along, or invite them to wait on the other corner to speak with you when you are done.
Speed is important, but so is being meticulous. Find a Balance between the two.