By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN The old mural outside of Schnell’s Saddle Shop in downtown Delano has been turning heads lately, ever since McKay Elwood renovated the sign for his Eagle Scout project.
Elwood, a senior at Delano High School, enlisted the expertise of professional sign painter Randy Szarzynski of SzarDesign in Delano.
“I’m a graphic designer, but in my youth, I was a sign painter,” Szarzynski said.
One part of the sign reads “Delano cooperative mercantile co.” The other part says “Occident Flour makes better bread.”
Szarzynski and Elwood worked to repaint the historic signs, while keeping their original look.
“It just kind of brightens up the whole town,” Szarzynski said.
They had help with the layout work from Ted Ganzel of Delano. Several volunteers from Youth as Resources, Boy Scouts Troop 355, and the National Honor Society in Delano also contributed to the project.
All in all, Elwood estimated that a total of about 90 hours was poured into the mural renovation.
“I did about 30 hours, which is still a lot,” he said.
Restoring a mural takes a great deal of planning.
“There was a lot of prepping for the wall,” Elwood said.
“It was multiple Saturdays,” Szarzynski said. “We traced the old lettering first.”
In order to do an accurate representation, they used a pounce pattern, which is a traced version of the lettering that needs to be applied. The workers used a pounce wheel to make tiny holes in the outline of the design.
The paper is then laid against the brick wall and dusted with charcoal powder. The powder seeps through the tiny holes in the paper, creating a pattern on the wall.
“That’s how you transfer the pattern to the walls,” Szarzynski explained. “It’s an important step in the painting of old signs.”
Future murals possible
Szarzynski has done murals in several cities, and has been in a group called the Walldogs for about five years.
Walldogs are professional artists throughout the US who improve towns’ appearances with high quality mural designs.
“There’s kind of been a resurgence of events,” Szarzynski said.
Debbie DeBeer, who is actively involved in the Delano community, has expressed interest in having a Walldog event in Delano someday, Szarzynski said. For this event, Walldogs would come and paint new “old-fashioned” signs around town.
“The signs really add a nice little feel to a town,” Szarzynski said.
Doing murals is a way to give back to communities, Szarzynski said.
“Plus, painting on brick walls is just fun,” he added.
More about Elwood
For Elwood, this fall was his first experience painting a mural.
He had been a student member of the Delano Dream Team II, and the team suggested the idea to him.
Now, Elwood is looking forward to becoming an Eagle Scout.
“I still need to do the paper work and apply,” said Elwood, who has until his 18th birthday in March to send his application.
In addition to his involvement in Boy Scout Troop 355 in Buffalo, Elwood is involved in several activities at Delano High School, including National Honor Society, drama club, Students Helping Adolescents Resist Pressures, and student council.
He also sings in the choir and plays the piano, flute, and saxophone.
Next fall, Elwood plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah, majoring in music with a vocal concentration.