Cheap Lumber + Paint = Flags

The Wooden Flags

Over the last 29 glorious years of my life, I’ve lived in a few different places – Orange County, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Austin…. but I’ve really only felt a connection to two states – Texas and California (sorry Nevada). The great thing about these two states is that they have an extremely well-defined state culture, each with positive and negative aspects. For example, California has amazing weather, beautiful beaches, and Pedro’s Tacos… but, it also has a welfare-state mentality and a cloud of narcissistic, pretentious  smug that can be seen from the stratosphere. Texas, on the other hand, has great barbecue, friendly people, and a business-friendly atmosphere…. but, it also has more churches than sense, baptists, and an exceptionally rural and disconnected infrastructure.

A while ago, I was browsing the interwebs and someone was selling a distressed flag of Texas, crafted from a few old fence posts, for about ten million dollars… Being extremely cheap, and somewhat crafty, I decided to buy some materials and just make one for myself. While I was at it, I figured I could also pay homage to the great state of my birth, and decorate both sides of my mantle at the same time, what a plan!

The first step was to measure the wall next to my mantle and figure out what size to create the flags, both of which scale to about 4×3 (width to height). I decided to create the things using 1 x 6 common boards, which meant that the width of 5 pieces lashed together (nominal size) was 26.25 inches, I cut these to a length of 35 inches to maintain the proper ratios. While picking up the lumber, I decided that it would be cheap and easy to just get paint samples from the hardware store for each of the necessary colors. (Yes I felt like a dick making the paint guy whip up 10 different paint samples, but I buy a lot of shit at Home Depot, so I’ve probably put his fucking kids through college by now, he owes me).

1×6’s all cut to size, I used two pieces of 1×6 and some 1.5″ wood screws to lash them all together.
The “canvas”, all lashed together.

Those of you that have seen the Texas flag will know that it’s ‘geometrically’ pretty simple, just a few stripes and a star, only three colors. California, on the other hand, has all sorts of shit going on, including stripes, lettering, a star, fucking grass, and for whatever reason – a bear. I was able to find the pantone color codes for each of the required elements and had the paint samples whipped up. Important note: I have zero artistic ability, so my plan for creating the different flag elements was to draft them up in Microsoft Publisher, print them out to scale and then stencil them onto the flags using a razor blade and some painter’s tape. Drawing anything freehand, including a fucking bear, was out of the question.

I started out by painting both flag “canvases” plain white, for a couple of reasons: the majority of the CA flag, and 1/3 of the Texas flag are white, and it works as a nice primer layer for the other colors, ensuring that they come out true to color. You can see in the photos below that I did a shitty job on some of the fine details, specifically the stars, this was later touched up by hand and it looks great now, so leave me alone. It’s also important to note that cutting out the letters on the California flag took forever, and I may now have carpal tunnel as a result.

After the white base-layer, and the red elements of both flags.

To create the details on the CA flag (including Smokey the flag-bear), I printed up scaled versions of each element, covered that portion of the flag with painters tape, and then used a razor blade to cut out the elements in the paper, which in turn left the outline of each element in the painter’s tape. I’m sure someone with a 5th grade level of artistic ability could have created these free-hand in about nine minutes, but I am not that person, so this is how I did it. (At least I read at a 10th grade level)

After the white base-layer, and the red elements of both flags.
I’ve never once seen a bear in California

The bear is actually two different colors of brown, with a black outline, but I decided to cut corners (like most things I do in life), and just create a single-color version with the darker brown color. I did use the black to outline the grass, and add in a few details to the bear, but I don’t think I’m special or anything so calm down.

Obviously the bear didn’t see the “Keep off the grass” sign.

That’s the finished product, and you can see the two flags in their final resting place on the fireplace wall. I had originally planned on hitting each of them with some sandpaper, to give them a more ‘distressed’ look, but I was afraid that I would accidentally ruin them. The Texas flag doesn’t exactly match the blue walls, but I figure it looks fine as is, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Overall, the cost for both of these things, including lumber and paint was about $70, and it took pretty much a full Saturday to make them. Hopefully, it didn’t take you that long to read this post, because there are so many more productive things you could be doing, aren’t there?