Let’s decorate… a firetruck!

We were overdue for a decorating post, yes? Ahhh but a little surprise awaits you!

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Today boys and girls, we are going to decorate a firetruck!

Don’t you wish you could follow alongside someone during their workday just to see what they do? Well now you can! Whether you want to or not even. 🙂

Seriously, it’s my hope that by sharing my tools of the trade and what I do, there may be a few tips you can use within your own DIY world. I use many many MANY of my work techniques when decorating or creating.

One of my clients is a major firetruck manufacturer I’ve worked with for the past 16 years. Awesome bunch.

I start the workday by dumping my tools in a fav spot on the floor. LOVE this toolbox and have had it forever. (Rubbermade I believe?) The drawers underneath can be removed if I desire a lighter case, but it’s perfect as is for all my riff raff. It even came with a long handle resembling a luggage carrier. No idea what happened to it.

These pumps are the BOSS. They are pressurized sprayers so you don’t have to squeeze squeeze squeeze. You first pump then compress the handle. They aren’t cheap, at about $40 a pop wholesale, however when they’re you’re bread and butter, you get the best. I use them for my cleaners and application fluids.

First order of business is the resident coffee machine. Best coffee in town and this is the only place I drink the stuff all day. (bays tend to be abit coldish) Now, if you’ll look abit closer at the mugs, they are labelled so yours doesn’t go missing. I’m here so frequently that someone made one for me too. Care to look closer at mine?

Should I be offended?!?

At least it doesn’t read “Dan’s Pee Cup” like the other one does! (I confess, sometimes I grab that ‘other’ cup because desperation tells me coffee simply tastes better in a non clown mug)

Back to biz. My cute little iPhone tells me the time as my watch is forever missing. Look how LARGE the time reads! (they cater well to the half blind) That iPhone is my hero on a workday as it’s how I stay in touch with all of you during lunch breaks. 🙂

I’ve designed all the ‘well designed’ work orders to make sense with my line of work. Graphic designers are a tad anal that way. My work orders are PRETTY. Even if my writing is not.

This is a common outfit all the firetrucks are wearing these days. We call it chevron striping and even the red is a reflective stripe. You could even say I wallpaper firetrucks for a living. Not so off topic after all, eh? All the bells and whistles on the trucks are removed before I stripe and are replaced later when I’m done.

Ahhhh, but here comes the more funner part. All these open doors are roll type that need stripes, so I make the kits work on little itty bitty metal slats.

Am I boring you? Hang in there. I’ll show you the newest craze in work bay jewelry in a moment.

This is a fancy dancy S kit I’m going to install. It visually joins lower sitting stripes on the cab with higher sitting stripes on the body.  See the masking tape around my wrist? My personal bling. I wear these everywhere in public because, quite frankly, I forget they’re still on. Vibrant green is my other brand.

All my straight edges (rulers) are metal with cork backings, which keeps the ruler from slipping and also protects delicate surfaces.A dot fader kit is applied in the ‘folds’ of the ribbon to create a shadow of sorts. .25″ black pinstripe is applied last to finish it off. The reason you see the stripes dangling on the left is because you have to layer them in the right order for proper wind protection. It’s sort of like braiding, you go from one to another.

Squeegies are used to burnish (press) the decal into place. They resemble a thick credit card and are made out of nylon so you can actually sharpen one against another. For unprotected stripes, I like to cover the squeegee with a soft cloth in a poly cotton blend so they slide around easier. 100% cotton grips abit too much. The cloth protects the stripe from scratches. I call these guys ghosts.

A total must in a world of vinyl are stainless steel blades. They are difficult to find but if you can locate them, they cut so much  cleaner than the non stainless variety.  The case I prefer is very slim so you feel like you’re holding a pencil as opposed to a chunk of wood, critical when you trim freehand.

You cricut owners will recognize this. These are computer cut vinyl decals I create on a bigger scale. The reflective letters are layered on top of black cut out shadows for a 2 tone effect. I have NO idea why I didn’t take a picture of that part.

Common sight in these parts. Many a day I’m dancing around all these blue legs and black boots. These guys are like my brothers. They are the coolest bunch ever. If I ever have a truck or tool question,  these guys are right there looking out for me. My bay full of big brothers they are. Wanna see one of my ‘brother’s’ inventions?

This, my decorator friends, is a tissue dispenser. You remove the inner core and pull from the inside. I laughed gasped when I discovered this and thought it was BRILLIANT. In a bay kinda way.

And there you have it. Get any tips out of that? I learned the most with the tissue one myself. 🙂

So, what do you do by day when not blogging?

If you have a link to one of your workday stories, throw the url in the comments so we can have a peek. 🙂

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  1. OK that totally inspired me and I was like on the edge of my seat waiting for a final pic….emm?? What an amazing way to be creative every day. I had no idea so much work and planning went into the decals. Thanks for letting us peek into your world.

  2. Ack! No I didn’t, Troy. I didn’t even think to do that. This one wasn’t very decorative as a whole so I didn’t think it would make a worthwhile statement.

    If the truck is still there this week when I go back I’ll take a pic and add it to this post.

    Doh!! Sorry. 🙂

    FJ Donna

  3. I loved the tour! Thanks for showing all the details. I always assumed you just did signs – I never thought about firetrucks. And your “brother’s” invention – genius!

  4. Love to see the after pic! The little bit that you showed looked very cool. I don’t get to do anything cool like that. I’ve spent the last 4 days tied to the puter making 785 BOM’s (bill of materials) lists for 700 cell towers. Try explaining that to the principal. He asked my son yesterday if I was home and he replied “yes but she is busy making BOM”S for my mom.” You have to pronounce BOM like bomb though to get the full effect.

  5. OH…. YOU make me giggle!
    Do you think the Fire dude’s would notice if you threw in a little bling??
    Now stop teasing & show us the finished job!
    Happy Tuesday, Rosie T

  6. Super cool.
    Thanks for giving us a glimpse at your world.

    I’m normally a stay at home mom, however, I head to the office during tax season and prepare taxes.
    You can’t imagine what people tell me…
    I should run a weekly post, “Tales from the tax office”…shudder!

    ~Amy

  7. Donna, you work in a firehouse and -what?!- no pics of the firemen? with their shirts off. sliding down a pole…..

    Uh hum, back to the post. Got off track for a minute. That’s so cool to be able to do that on the trucks. My SIL is a fireman in the air force ans they have those blah red trucks. Perhaps you shold market firehouses all over the worls. Start a fire truck decorating contest. I’d tune in. lol

    I think you should add some hot glitz to the sides of those trucks without them knowing. Rhinestones and pinstripes. I can see it.

    Would love to see the finished pic. Are all of the fire trucks there done this way, or is this something special to just that firehouse? Oh yeah, and put some guys on that truck before you take the final pic!

  8. I’d also love to see a final photo!

    Very cool. Thanks for letting us tag along with you at work-work 😉

    I’m the admin. assist. at the local Fire Department, so it was great seeing how the trucks get to be so pretty 😉

  9. Thanks so much for sharing this! My son runs on our local volunteer rescue squad and I see the fire trucks and first responder equipment all the time, but I never stopped to think about “who” puts all of the details onto that equipment! I assumed it came that way when they ordered each vehicle!

    I can’t wait to show this to my son when he comes home! My “day” job is as a freelance writer, so having pics of me in my jammies and fuzzy slippers sipping on tea wouldn’t be too note worthy I’m afraid!

    I can’t wait to see pics of the finished, now more beautiful, fire truck!

    Kat 🙂

  10. Great post! I have way too many interests! Would love to learn to do what you do in your day job! I know it is a lot of work, but you do make it look like fun.

    I am blessed with a great job at a local winery where I spend days taste testing to determine which wine pairs with what food, menu planning, teaching cooking classes or preparing for special events. The days I am not working, I am helping construct our farm. Building the farmhouse or the priority at the time.

    Love what I am doing, just getting anxious to get things done so I can get going on the long list of projects I have for furnishing our new home…

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. What a fun post. The mug was a hoot. Great detailing!

    OMG! What a great use of pipes. Now that is repurposing to its a finest!

    Hey Donna, I wanted to let you know about a new party I am hosting on Tuesdays. Its called Timeless Tuesday. It begins February 2nd. The party is about classics in many areas ~ interior design, fashion, cooking and entertaining….even trends that folks would like to see beome timeless classics (like the eco-friendly repurposing that you do adn this post about decorating a fire truck ~ seriously what would we do without our knights with the hose!). I’d love for you to participate. I think it will be a wealth of information in one place plus your blog is one of my classics.

    Here’s the link to the post I wrote telling everyone about it ~ http://paulagracedesigns.blogspot.com/2010/01/timeless-tuesday.html.

    I hope you and your readers join in the fun!

    Paula Grace ~

  12. I just love what Polly from Make Mine Beautiful said about you working in a firehouse and no pictures of the guys with their shirts off, sliding down the pole – very funny. I am lucky to have a creative job like you, except I hang from the ceiling and climb a huge ladder all day. I burnish VATS instead of decals, dress mannequins and paint a lot of “focal” walls. I never sit, so as soon as I come home I love to sit down with my laptop after 7 hours of running around a store.
    Looking forward to seeing a photo of a bunch of guys hanging from the finished product.
    Diane

  13. You guys are funny. This is a firetruck manufacturer where they fabricate the trucks, not drive them. No firemen in site. And that’s a-okay by me, I like hangin’ with this bunch. They’re as full of dirt and grease as I am. 🙂

    FJ Donna

  14. Wow! Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Donna!!! 🙂 I have to admit, I do give a little shudder when I think of me standing there, solo, beside one of these uber-expensive rigs while praying, “Oh, God, please don’t let me screw up!” LOL Folk, Donna makes this look easy, but these firetrucks can be very tricky! You are truly the master, Donna! Long live the queen of reflective.

    Just one of the things I do when not blogging is http://www.bodybybabycasting.blogspot.com