• Brenda Ehly

ANTS! by the Numbers

Updated: Dec 21, 2018




I can hardly believe it, but as of December 3, Duluth, Georgia's Hill Street mural, Dream Big, is officially, and finally complete. It may not look any different, but the difference is enormously significant. December 3 is the day that one last, awesome volunteer stepped up to seal the wall with an acrylic varnish specifically designed for outdoor murals. Applying it by hand with a brush was not practical, and applying it with a roller would have been DISASTEROUS. A roller agitates the varnish, creating millions of bubbles which dry to a hideous haze, effectively ruining the underlying painting. Do NOT ask me how I know this. My hero volunteer owns a commerical sprayer, which was abolutely the right tool for the job. He actually volunteered a LONG time ago. Since then, we've both been waiting for three, successive sunny days, when one or both of us didn't have work conflicts. If you've looked out your window lately, you'll have no trouble believing that we've been conspiring since May to pull this off.


So, now I have mural closure. I really don't think of myself as a muralist, but I have NO regrets. I love Duluth, and this was an incredible experience. Thank you, everyone who participated and cheered us on!


Volunteers: 44

Volunteer hours: 92

My hours at the wall: 92 (not counting design and prep)

Total man hours involved at the wall: 184

Rate of painting: 3.35 square feet per hour (estimated 4)

Length of wall: 117.5 feet

Area of wall: 600 square feet

Pants I wore out scooting along the sidewalk because I was too lazy to use a car crawler or skate board: 2

Gallons of paint: 8

Gallons of masonry sealer: 5

Gallons of varnish: 5

Ants: 7

Olives: 7

Chocolate chip cookies: 1

Shades of color: 20

Actual number of ants inadvertently entombed in the course of painting: insufficient data

Coffee delivered: 4 cups

Homemade brownies delivered: 1 batch

Homemade cookies delivered: 1 batch

Brunswick stews delivered: 4 cups

Chick-fil-a nuggets delivered: 1 box

Step ladders loaned: 1

Paint roller loaned: 1

Drop cloths loaned: 3

Laughs and smiles generated in the course of painting: incalcuable. Especially generous were the comments of the students driving, walking, and cycling by.

Number of times someone driving by said something encouraging: I can't count that high!

Number of times someone driving by said something less than encouraging: Just the one lady driving by, who seemed confused by my narrative of the greater meaning of the wall. She wasn't unkind - just scowled and expressed disappointment that I wasn't going to install a sign which would contain a rational explanation for painting ants and olives on a retaining wall.

Brushes consumed by painting on poured concrete: wish I'd kept count - WAY more than I anticipated!






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