In aid of Books Are My Bag an unsuspecting bookshop in Colchester called Red Lion Books let me paint all over their shop window. For my glass-based artistic debut I decided to depict a scene from my latest literary masterpiece, The Mystery of the Haunted Farm. In this book ghost stories meet agriculture to give you zombie ducks, ghost cows and a Frankenhorse.
I began the window design by realising that I’d done my preparatory drawing the wrong way round and that I would have to wing it. Here’s me filled with panic doing a speedy redesign:
As it turns out painting on glass is rather tricky. Before setting out for Colchester I found myself doing some extensive googling to figure out how exactly to do this. I discovered that there’s whole forums dedicated to shop window painting (which once again confirms to me that there’s something for everyone on the internet). It seems that the best way of painting on glass and then being able to remove it again is to mix powder paint with washing up liquid instead of water so that it’s thick enough to stick and then do multiple coats. This worked fine on my french doors at home but took a bit of getting used to because painting on vertical, slippery surfaces is frankly silly.
Once I got to this stage I thought everything was going swimmingly but that was not to last. The brown and pink paint started to flake off like a kind of colourful, soul destroying dandruff. Instead of bursting into tears, which was my initial option, I added some PVA glue which thankfully stopped the flaking. I must try it on my scalp.
From then on I started to succeed and with a constant supply of tea and fancy sprinkle covered biscuits I was done just before closing time.
I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at Red Lion Books for letting me deface their window and being so lovely about it. I’m assured the Haunted Farm window is going to stay up until it falls off, which hopefully won’t be too soon.
The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan is published by Nosy Crow and out now. You can find out more about Elys and her work at elysdolan.com and elysdolan.tumblr.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook at @ElysDolan and facebook.com/elysdolanillustration