In moving to Hong Kong, I decided to detach myself from possessions and live a minimalist life.  My place at the College, however, doubles as a meeting place for meeting with students, and certain furniture comes part and parcel with the flat.

The flat at move in (August 2012). Moving involved only two trips, each journey with one suitcase and backpack. The guards were surprised.

But I have no use whatsoever for the TV stand.  (I haven’t watched TV for more than 15 years.)  The maintenance staff kindly took that away, and left behind a blank wall.  I decided to do something with it.   I like chalk, maps, and magnets; the wall would be all that.

There shall be a magnetic chalkboard on the wall, in the shape of a world map.

Rust oleum carries separately a magnetic primer, and a chalkboard paint.  I picked up a gallon each, and tinted the chalkboard to be a navy blue.  The painting, however, would not be done for several months.

The first step involves drawing a world map on the wall.  Borrowing a projector from the Art Department, I traced out a simplified world map onto the wall with a 2B pencil.  Then I sanded the surface with a fine-grit sand-paper, so chalk goes on evenly.  The entire process takes about 3 hours.

In hindsight I should have learnt about a place called New Zealand. Or the Caspian Sea.

(In hindsight I should also have polished first, and traced later, even if that means more elbow grease.  The pencil marks don’t entirely go away when sanded, but it occasionally streaks out to the side, and the streaks were difficult to remove by eraser.)

Leila helping mask Asia.

The next step, which I’m chiseling away for a few minutes each day, is masking it with tape, so the 3 coats of primer and 2 coat of paints can have sharp edges.  This turned out to be not too bad… until I was stuck.

Well, you see, masking with artist’s tape was a fine solution except that it fails on irregular shapes.  And it fails especially badly when there is an indentation.  However, Leila discovered that tape can go on (lightly), the needed portion traced on top with pencil, and then cut to right size.  Sticky scissors and huge time sink aside, it works really well.

Since then I’ve been shaping and pasting tape for a few minutes every other day.  With much additional help from Leila, the Americas and Africa are now finished, and only the Mediterranean and the SE Asian coastlines remain unmasked.  Paint shall soon be applied.  Stay tuned!

Further along…

(More hindsights: if I were to do this again, knowing now how long it takes to mask irregular shapes, I would have made a stencil of the map.  There are so many things that was opaque and unknowable in front but crystal clear looking back.)