I wanted to share some of my thinking and process of designing a bulletin board. The process I use to create a bulletin board is essentially how I plan most of my projects. This procedure can be applied to planning and executing a project of your own, whether it be an art project like this one, or if you're planning on organizing a part of your home and want to plan how you are going to do it the procedures for planning work just as well.
I also want to back up and introduce myself to anyone who doesn't know me. So, like everyone I am many things. I am a mom to two boys, an artist, a former art teacher, a former art curator, and many other things, and all these things have given me experience that strengthens my interest in creating and designing art for our home or projects with my kids. So, a lot of what I create comes with a background of how to put things together, because I have had the fun of creating knew things with my students, and installing the art of professional artists.
First, I either find a problem I want to solve, or I'm presented with a problem I need to solve. Finding or creating a problem I want to solve would be, "I want to make a painting for the living room". Being presented with a problem might be along the lines of, "All of our belongings keep piling up on the kitchen counter, what can I do to streamline this; so, our stuff is not a jumbled mess, but a place where we can organize and store our most used things".
Once I know the problem, I ask questions either of myself, like what materials do we need to solve this, what are the necessary items that must be included, what items can we do without, what is the objective of the project. So, I'm going to speak specifically about designing the bulletin board for my kid's school, but keep in mind, that the procedures I use to accomplish my task, could easily be used in the context of most problems.
So, let me back up once more. Parents volunteer to help with different tasks at my son's school. And one of these tasks happened to be making the bulletin board displays. I saw this, and thought, "This is me. I can do this." So, I turned to the teacher, and asked her a couple of questions to get an idea of what her expectations were for the bulletin boards. She showed me there were two in the hallway that I would be in charge of. I asked if she knew what she wanted displayed, and when they needed to be changed. The teacher explained, that there would be something the kids would make, and she would reach out to me through email when I needed to put it together in a month or so. So, knowing this, I signed up, and knew the following: I was responsible for two bulletin boards, and they would need to be changed out about every two months, and these board would feature something the kids make.
A little over a month into the school year, the teacher contacts me, and lets me know it's time to change the bulletin boards. I see her in class, and she shows me the apples the students will draw their portraits on, and says there needs to be one bulletin board for the AM class and one for the PM. I later confirm what text needs to be included, and ask how many kids are in each class; so, I can estimate how much room the apples will take up. I also take a copy of the apple shape home with me; so, I can use it for reference.
Then, I begin sketching. Initially, I sketch a bulletin board with the text I need to include, "AM KINDERGARTEN" and "SELF-PORTRAITS" respectively for each class, and play with the idea of creating an art historical self-portrait for each board. One historical portrait by Rene Magritte called "The Son of Man", a painting of the artist in a suit wearing a bowler hat, and an apple in front of his face. I thought this would be a playful way to tie into the apple theme. The second portrait would be a Frida Kahlo, she has portraits with animals, dragonflies, and leaves in the background. I thought the leaves could be part of the overall background of the bulletin board and tie them together visually.
So, once I had sketched my ideas, written down materials I would need, and any questions I had, I went back to the school and gathered supplies. I also brought my tape measure; so, I could measure and write down the dimensions of the bulletin boards. Then, I knew how much paper I would need, and I would be able to make everything at home. I got different colors of paper that was available on giant rolls of butcher paper, and card stock to use to make a banner for the text. I looked at the school's die cutting shapes and text, but they were too small for what I was looking for.
At home, I pulled up pictures of apple leaves from the internet, and then scaled the pictures to the size I needed, using the paper apple from the school for reference. I made the leaves about half the size of the apples. I found five different leaves; so, there would be some variety in the shapes. I traced these onto paper from my laptop screen, using the screen as a light box. I cut the leaf shapes out; so, I could use them as templates. My initial plan was to draw and cut out a lot of leaves and glue them onto the background. I started tracing leaves onto a roll of paper, then stacked different colors of paper together; I could cut several leaves out at one time. I had drawn the leaf shapes initially on the red paper, and once I had a few leaves cut out, I started to arrange them on different colored backgrounds to see what looked best, but I liked the way the traced black lines looked on the red paper best. I liked the leaf motif that was created like wall paper. So, my plan changed, and I now knew I needed more red paper, because this was going to be my background.
So, I looked at the dimensions of the bulletin boards, and measured the width of the butcher paper roll, and calculated how much red paper I would need. I also thought about how I would install the bulletin board. I planned on being alone, and I knew I could not successfully hang a long, horizontal roll of paper on my own easily. So, I planned to hang the paper in panels like wall paper. I could manage the width of paper on my own hanging vertically. So, each bulletin board needed three vertical panels for the background. They would be wide enough to overlap; so, I didn't need to draw leaves on areas that would not be seen, and overlapping would also prevent any possible gaps between panels. If I had tried to measure and cut the panels to the exact dimensions of the bulletin board, I would have had some gaps or areas that were not covered, because the bulletin boards were not square, and they were not exactly the same size.
Once I had my red paper, I went to work measuring out the panels, and cutting them to size. Then, I created a smaller template to cover up the areas I would not need to draw on. Then, I took my original leaf shapes I had traced from the computer, and traced them onto card stock; so, I could make thicker, more durable templates to trace more accurately than thin printer paper templates. Then, I started arranging my leaf templates and tracing with a sharpie.
Next, I created a template for the flag that would be used for each letter of the text. These flags would then be strung together to form a banner using twine. I thought about how I could easily string the text together, and also be able to unthread the text and reuse the letters in the future. So, my plan was to punch holes in the top of the flags and thread the twine through. Originally, I thought I could use a single hole punch, the size of a punch found on notebook paper, but mine is somewhere in a box in storage. They had one at the school; so, I kept this in mind.
Once, I had the template for the flag, I thought it would be nice if the flag had a border; it would stand out more on the background. I made a template for the border. Initially, I had planned on drawing all the text by hand or cutting out letters, then my husband suggested, "Why don't you go buy letters to save time". He's good about pointing out things that I overlook. I hadn't considered another possibility. So, I went to Hobby Lobby to see what I could find. They of course have all kinds of letters for all kinds of things, but I was able to find vinyl letters in an area that looked like sign making materials. I brought my flag template with me, and got the three inch letters that looked to be a good size for the banner. It took three packages of letters, because I needed a lot of "R"s. Each package was $6.99 each, but I was able to get one for 40% off, because there is a daily 40% coupon on one item on Hobby Lobby's website. I also looked at the hole punches while I was there, and found one with a smaller diameter than the traditional notebook paper hole punch. So, I picked up one of those as well for I think around $6.99 also, but I got this on a separate day; so, it was also 40% off this price.
I measured and marked where I wanted my holes to be located, and punched holes in my flag template, and then, traced this template onto the card stock. An easier way, would have been to trace three flags onto a sheet of card stock, and then photo copy it onto the rest of the card stock. That way, I would not have needed to trace the template for each letter.
Once I had the flags cut out, I created a small 3x3 inch square template that I would use to help me align the vinyl letters on the flags. I lightly traced the square onto each flag. Then, I would compare the square to the letter I would be using, and mark equal space on each side of the letter onto the square. I would then place the square on the flag, and transfer the mark from the square to the flag. I would use this to help me apply the letters accurately. The vinyl can be peeled off and reapplied; this is helpful when I would accidentally put the letters on a little crooked, or if they were not quite centered. For straight letters like "L" or "M", I would line up the edges parallel with the square I had drawn on the flag. For, "I" and "A", I would mark a center point on the top of the square and center the top of the "I" or "A" first, and align the top of the letter's straight edge with that of the square.
Once I had all letters applied, I threaded them onto the twine. I started from the back of the flag, threaded the twine through the holes, and then, through the punched hole of the next one. The twine was slightly coarse, and this gripped the paper; so, the flags stayed in place and did not need to be glued or secured.
Once, I had all of my background and banners finished, I laid them out on the floor, to see how the design was coming together. I realized my text was a good size for the scale of the bulletin board, but the addition of the flags added a few more inches to each letter. This made the text banners pretty large, and they took up a decent amount of space on the bulletin board. Fortunately, I had already nixed the idea of adding borders to the text, this would have made the flags even larger. So, I may make the title of the project a smaller font on the next bulletin board, and just reuse "AM KINDERGARTEN" and "PM KINDERGARTEN".
Now, it's time to install at the school. I brought the banners, the rolls of paper stacked in order of how they needed to be hung, a pencil, and a tape measure with me. I acquired a stepstool, stapler, scissors, and pushpins at the school. First, I hung the left and right panels, then I centered the middle panel. Then, I repeated the process on the second bulletin board. Then, I pushed a thumb tack halfway into the bulletin board where I thought the top banner would start. I wound the end of the twine around the pushpin and then pushed it all the way into the board. This held the end of the twine in place. Then, I repeated the process at the other end of the banner, and moved the push pins as needed to get the banner centered. Once, I was happy with the placement, I stapled the twine next to the pushpin twice. This is just for added support, incase the weight of the banner is too much for the pushpin. After I have all the banners in place, I started hanging the kids' apples. I roughly arranged them as equally as I could, but since I did not have them ahead of time to dry fit at home, they were not perfect. I left space for two apples that were to be added later. Next time, I will try to take my time, and figure out how to best arrange them symmetrically.
That being said, I am happy with the end result, and I am proud of myself for creating a bulletin board I enjoy, and I'm happy to have helped my kid's teacher.
Wooh, that was a big explanation, but I hope the detail helps any one looking for a little help with a project. Please let me know your questions and I am happy to answer. Thanks for reading and good luck with your project!