I did this a couple weeks ago, one sultry summer afternoon when I had nothing better to do than watch the Pie play The Last of Us and poke the dog while I sort of read a novel. I was even running out of things to pack, and the fact that most of our stuff was now in boxes meant that I was scrambling for DIY post ideas for you guys that I could do with the materials at hand. I was pretty sure you were tired of lessons on how to clean things. And I know I’m tired of gelatin. The Pie is on a gelatin strike. He may divorce me if I make anything else.
So I stared at the electric table fan that was pushing a desultory breeze through the window at the dog. I’d inherited the thing a decade or so ago when my grandmother and grandfather downsized, and I have memories of playing with it at their place as a kid (which was why I took it). So there’s a good chance that it’s as old as, if not older than, I am. And that kind of makes it vintage, right? But it’s also rather boring to look at, and over the years the plastic has discoloured and gotten grubby.
“I’m gonna paint that fan,” I announced.
“Are you now?” the Pie responded by rote as he murdered spore-infected citizens. He’s pretty used to me spouting random words at him and has a variety of canned phrases he uses in reply. The dog said nothing but spared me a mildly apprehensive glance. Neither of them bother to ask me “why” anymore. There’s not really any point.
“Yep,” I nodded, warming to the subject. “I’m going to paint it all retro-style … with a rainbow.”
“With a rainbow.” When the Pie isn’t actually listening to me his brain will simply repeat the last things that went into his ears in a survival-mode attempt to imitate what he’s like when he’s paying attention. For the record, I’ve cottoned on to this ploy now. Only took me ten years.
“Mm-hm. I’m gonna DO it.” I sat quietly for a few moments while the Pie threw a bottle to distract a hostile gunman and Gren began to snore over my shoulder. “I’m gonna do it tuh-DAY.”
So I grabbed my as-yet-unsealed box of craft paints, stirred myself up a tequila sunrise (I didn’t want to waste the orange juice sitting in the fridge after all), and got started.
First, everything that can come off the fan has gotta come off, so you can clean thirty-plus years’ worth of gunk out of the inner workings. And despite the fact that I dust this sucker regularly, a summer of construction work outside means that the thing is full-on FILTHY. Um, I don’t want to need to say this, but please make sure the fan is turned off and unplugged before you start dis-assembly.
Then I began to paint. I knew it was going to take a few coats to get a nice opaqueness to it, but that was fine, I had time. Just a warning, if you decide to do this, that craft paint painted on smooth plastic WILL chip. If you wanted to use spray paint instead, use something designed to work on smooth surfaces, and make sure to tape off anything you don’t want covered.
I thought a nice retro seafoam turquoise-y colour would be appropriate.
I decided to paint the fan blades in primary colours, so when they spun they would make a rainbow.
While the fan blades dried I worked on my second coat of the fan. You can see it’s already starting to cover better. I’m not that concerned with brush strokes showing, because really, who looks that closely at a table fan? I painted the adjustment knob primary blue, mostly because I wanted to.
Then it was time to paint the grilles (or whatever it’s called). I used Rustoleum in copper. First I taped off the centre panel on the front grille because I was going to paint that a primary blue, just like the adjustment knob. Then I painted.
Boy, it’s so easy to miss spokes when you’re using spray paint. I went over the whole thing, inside and out, twice, just to cover any lingering white spots.
And pulled off the taped off area.
First coat of blue.
While that dried I put the rest of the fan back together. Here’s the back grille.
Then the finished fan blades with their hardware that I painted black.
If you turn it on, it looks so cool!
This one makes me think of the “beachball” my computer shows me when I’m waiting for something to load.
Then with the front grille in place. Now that I’ve done it in the primary blue I’m second-guessing myself. I think I might paint it turquoise later. We shall see.
Anyway, before and after: