Painting and finishing the Cornhole boards

September 27th, 2010

Often, things that appear simple and beautiful require immense detail and hard work. Our Cornhole boards were no exception! After our students had developed their graphic concepts, inspired by Richard Serra’s action verbs (fold, twist, hinge, etc), it was time to turn our sketches into reality.


Screenshot of Adobe Illustrator

We began with a tutorial on Adobe Illustrator, a graphic software tool used to create “vector-based” illustrations for things like posters, business cards, signs, even cartoons and animations. Adobe is also one of our Studio H sponsors, and was kind enough to donate the software that our students now use. The key tools we learned in Adobe were the layout, artboards, size and resolution, fill/stroke, shape, pen tool, line tool, and how to set up grids and guides.

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Each student laid out their workspace in Illustrator, and using the various pen and shape tools, began constructing their design. The process is not unlike drafting: precision, angles, and line weight are all important, as is the sequence in which you draw. Putting each of the designs in Illustrator was no small feat, and took about 3-4 days solid to get them just right.

The reason we drew the designs in Illustrator was that we would then print our digital drawing, and use it as a stencil of sorts when we went to paint. The process went like this:

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We first printed the designs from Illustrator at full-scale, using the “tile” option to print on multiple 11×17″ sheets of paper that fit together perfectly. Then, we taped off the entire surface of our boards with green painter’s tape (the boards had all been primed in a white primer paint). Then, we “spray-mounted” our printed designs on top of the tape. This would allow us to know exactly which lines needed to go where. Then, strategically, we cut through the paper and tape along all of the drawn lines, using Exacto blades. Once all the lines had been transferred as cut lines through the tape, we removed the paper on top.

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What we were left with was an entire board of tape, with the individual shapes cut. These cut lines would allow us to peel back the areas we would paint in a single color, creating a sharp line between the peeled-off section and whatever was covered up. For students whose boards had many many colors, we would have to paint one color, then peel off the next area in the next color, etc. Some required re-taping of areas, others only required one round of tape.

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The stencil/tape process is arduous, but results in very crisp lines for multi-colored designs, and they turned out great!! The painting process took about a week total, but the results were amazing! As partners were paired by colors of the beanbags (for example, Rody and Jamesha’s colors were black and blue, and their respective verbs were “join” and “twist), the sets were coordinated by color but had two very unique designs.

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To finish the process, we gave each board 3 coats of water-based polyurethane, painted the legs a coordinating color, and voila! The seven sets of boards will be available for purchase (via silent auction, with all proceeds going to our next project, the public chicken coops) at our upcoming Cornhole Showdown and Auction at Bunn’s BBQ in Windsor on October 9 from 11-3. We are so proud of our students’ dedication to the intricacies of this project, from woodshop to paint and the tricky tools in Adobe Illustrator.

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About

Studio H is a public high school "design/build" curriculum that sparks rural community development through real-world, creative projects. By learning through a design sensibility, applied core subjects, and "dirt-under-your-fingernails" construction skills, students develop the creative capital, critical thinking, and citizenship necessary for their own success and for the future of their communities.

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