The Making of a Mural (part 3)

Click for Part One
Click for Part Two

All the background pieces were ready and all the birds had been cut out. Now it was time to place all the birds and start the inlay process. I had to remove each background piece and cut it to accomodate the bird cutouts.

The sparrow finished and inlaid into the background.

Working late nights in a cold studio wasn’t the healthiest way to go about it but the work needed to be done.

The birds had to have a protective clearcoat before getting permanently installed and they clustered together in a corner to dry.

Finally the terrifying notion of spraying all my hard work with an unknown varnish and unknown spray gun came to pass. Luckily three coats went on clean and the finish turned out great.

Moving day. Shipping the mural sections to the airport.

Installation was handled by some professional art installers who did the work but let me guide each step of the process. It fit together better than I had hoped. The hours spent leveling the structure in the studio and devising an attachment system paid off.

The Burrowing Owl was the secret to getting the mural installed. It was the cover of a secret hatch that allowed someone to go inside to secure the last section of the mural to the wall.

Exiting through the owl.

I hope this look into the process has been interesting. The grand opening was April 14th and the terminal is in full swing. If you are ever flying to San Francisco and want to see the mural, book your flight on Virgin America or American Airlines since they are the only airlines in Terminal 2.

The mural is dedicated to my late father and today is his birthday. It is a tough day but I’m trying to focus on all the good memories. Thanks for tuning in to Bird Light Wind. Having the chance to share my images and experiences with you is one of my favorite things.

13 responses

  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing the process.

    November 16, 2011 at 6:00 am

  2. Great job! This has been really cool process to read about, thanks for sharing.

    November 16, 2011 at 6:28 am

  3. G’morning, Walter. As a fellow artist (textiles), I find it both astonishing and reassuring to have a glimpse of what’s required to make something new and previously unthought-of. I believe it’s the highest use of our unique human intelligence. And since I have family in San Francisco, I’ll make sure I see your mural when I visit.

    The dedication to your father, whose birthday is today — as is my son’s, also deceased — is especially poignant. My son was an environmental activist and attorney, and would have loved your work. Thank you so much for showing process, progress and product.

    November 16, 2011 at 6:43 am

  4. Janine DeMartini

    Your father would be extremely proud of you, and this fabulous memorial.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:54 am

  5. Kendra

    Happy birthday to your dad!

    Thanks for sharing this process–it is really interesting to see how it came together. And the mural is fantastic. I feel lucky to have seen it installed!

    November 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

  6. Thanks, Walter, for sharing this process and your thoughts and feelings. Happy Birthday to your dad. What a wonderful tribute to him from you.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:18 am

  7. Sue

    Thanks for ” showing it all”, Walter! Of course, there preceeds taking the photographs, loving birds, loving music, loving bird song, and so much more.
    I’m grateful that you were able to combine so many elements of your life in such a perfectly finished, beautifully composed, musically complex, environmentally compelling art work.
    Seeing the process helps in knowing that I can aspire to more in my art work. First, say YES! to my inspirations, and then just take one step at a time and keep taking those steps.
    Thank you for this beautiful piece, Walter, and all the background experience that you bring to it. And especially thank you for sharing it and the process with us.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:29 am

  8. Sandy Slichter

    This is truly inspiring, plus I’m fascinated with the process. It will mean even more when we get to see it, knowing how it all came about. Thanks for having made this documentation and do enjoy this poignant day as best you can.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:57 am

  9. Donald

    I’ve enjoyed seeing the mural live and now I’ve got an inkling of how it all came together.
    Great project Walter. Thanks for sharing!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:40 am

  10. John Wall

    What an excellent, joyful dedication. Lots of inspiration and hard work, and it all came together beautifully. I don’t know how I missed it when I flew out to Chicago over the summer, but I won’t miss it next time!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:42 am

  11. christina


    You soar !

    What a magnifient tribute to your father.

    Thank you for letting us into the process and for sharing your gifts with us.

    Christina Orth

    November 16, 2011 at 10:41 am

  12. julie beddome


    Your mural is magnificent!! And indeed your Father would be very proud.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

  13. It looks fantastic! Great work.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:13 pm

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