Painting A Pair Of Skis: Painting

Step 4: Painting

After you are done sanding make sure to wipe down the skis really well.  I would recommend using rubbing alcohol but when all you can get your hands on is some fingernail polish remover, it will do just fine.  After those things are looking spick and span and dust free you are ready to start spraying.  The key is to do a lot of light coats.  Make the coats too thick and the paint will run.  The spray can said to wait 1 minute in between coats.  I ended up doing a lot of very thin coats.  I went through the entire can the first day.  To dry them I took them inside the house.  Drying will go a lot faster if they are kept in a place where it is warm and dry.  After 24 hours of drying they looked pretty good at first glance:


However after I took a look at it more closely I noticed something. When you look at the skis in the direct light you can see my sanding mistakes. I ran that orbital sander too fast and did not spend enough time with the 220 grit. This made for some imperfections that I could just not live with.


I couldn’t stand to look at those sanding marks so I decided to put some more coats of paint on to hopefully cover up the mistake. So I took some “000” grit steel wool to the skis and then proceeded to put another can of purple spray paint on them.

Now it is time to get to the design.  Next I printed off my design in real size by printing on 12 separate pages and then taping them together.  Then I cut ski sizes pieces of contact paper and carbon paper. They look something like this:


Next step is to take the contact paper and ever so carefully stick it on to the skis.  For this it helps to have an extra set of hands.  Have one person hold the paper at one end holding the paper just above the skis.  The other person then sticks the paper down on one end and makes their way to the other end, sticking down the paper as they go.  After it is all down rub it like crazy (insert 6th grade joke here) make sure to get all of the air bubbles and wrinkles out of it.

After that is done the next step is to tape down your carbon paper and design to the skis.  Make sure that you put the correct side of the carbon paper on the skis (the dark side).  It would be incredibly frustrating if you spent over an hour tracing just to find that you are an idiot who put the paper on upside down.  Now sure who would do something like that, not any of you for sure.  Make sure the design gets taped down well, you don’t want that paper sliding around at all.  Use lots of tape.



Next comes the tracing.  Grab you some sort of utensil that has a defined sharp point, but not so sharp that it will cut through your paper.  Also grab a ruler (or if you have a really steady hand just go for it).  Myself I started with the ruler.  After a while I realized that it would be faster to just freehand it.  If you want your lines to be straight you will have to have a really steady hand for this.  Take your time, especially around the edges.  It is important to note that you will only need to trace out one color of your design.  After you paint you will not be able to see anything anyways.



Now it is time to start cutting.  Get you an exacto knife with a fresh blade on it.  I tried to use a ruler but once again opted to just freehand it.  Put the coffee down, slow your breathing and connect with your inner surgeon here to keep those hands steady.  Use a light amount of pressure, it doesn’t take a lot.  When you go to take the paper up, start at the corners.  After you have peeled off all of the paper where you want your first color, go back and press down all the contact paper to make sure there are no wrinkles or air bubbles.  After that you are ready to paint again.



The Krylon spray paint states to wait at least 24 hours between coats of paint.  I suggest to follow this rule.  Wait at least 24 hours if you have allowed them to dry inside, more if it was cold or wet where they were drying.  I sprayed right at 24 hours and it was fine until the last coat (details later on).  Just to be safe, wait at least 1 day.


After that has dried you can remove the contact paper.  VERY SLOWLY.  Take your time, do not get in a rush, and it should come off with no problem.


At this point it is vital that once more you decide to change your design choice and color selection.  I am sure you have not bought enough cans of spray paint.  Talking to some women can help you with design and color choices but in the end, just buck up and make a decision.  You are a competent, intelligent, creative, soul, you have every ability to pick 4 colors that go well together.  Confidence is key here.

Now we are starting to get somewhere. At this point a little voice inside you will be screaming at you to just stop while you are ahead. This voice will says things like: “those skis look great right now, don’t risk it by trying to do more,” “you are bound to screw it up, just cash out right now before you ruin a perfectly good pair of skis.” You need to ignore this voice. Find that voice inside you that pushes you to greatness. The one that says “you can do anything,” “if you really wanted to you could make a pair of skis from scratch, much less paint them,” “you are meant to do amazing things.” It is this voice that you need to learn to listen to. If you are a Zarse you have listened to this voice since you are born and it has served you well. Continue on.


Depending on your design choice it might be possible to just use painters tape to do the rest.  If not then put on another sheet of contact paper and go at it again.  For me, I went with the painters tape.


Believe it or not there are actually several types of painters tape.  I got the kind with the least amount of adhesive to increase my chances of it not pulling up my fresh coats of paint.  This was a good decision.  There was no bleeding and the tape did not lift up any paint either.

After it is taped you are ready for another coat of paint.


Remove the tape.  Again – VERY SLOWLY.  Now we are starting to get somewhere.


The last thing I wanted to do was put her name at the top and bottom of the skis.  For this I got the contact paper out again and repeated the first process.  I printed out her name in a font I liked and then taped it to the skis with the carbon paper and contact paper below it, traced it ever so carefully, then cut with the knife.



It is at this point where I had my first and only major problem.  I waited about a day since the last coat of paint, maybe 22 hours.  I then took my last color and sprayed it over the name.  To my dismay I found the paint wrinkled up on me.


I am not sure what caused this.  I think it might have been a curing issue.  I might not have waited long enough to spray.  However the paint did wrinkle on the original purple color, which had been painted several days before hand.  Not sure.  It might have just been a bad can of paint.  Either way it was no good.  This is Thursday night.  We leave for KC Sat morning and I work all day on Friday.  The best choice here is to sand down the paint over the letters, wait several days, go buy a new can of paint, and then try again.  I however went another route.  I really needed these skis to be done by Christmas so I went to Hobby Lobby once again and purchased some craft paint.  Craft paint is water based and my Krylon spray paint is oil based.  Not a good idea to combine the two, but I am in a pinch so I decide to give it a whirl.  The way I see it if it is left up to the paint alone to withstand the harsh conditions of skiing then we are screwed because it has no chance.  The only chance the skis have of protection is the clear coat I will put on last.  So really it does not matter if the craft paint sticks to the Krylon very well because I will be sealing it anyways.  I guess time will tell if that theory works out.  So that is what I did.  I took the skis to the fire station with me the next day and worked on them in between runs.  The craft paint did not do too well.  When I tried to remove the contact paper the paint wanted to act like a piece of wax and just all come up.  I had to cut with the knife as I lifted up.  After I got the contact paper up I had to go back and touch up the letters by hand with a very fine tipped paint brush.  It ended up not looking too bad as long as you were a few feet away from it.



(Picture taken after clear coat was put on)

Bam. There you go. Not too bad if I might say so myself. They are not quite finished yet but they will do for Christmas morning.

After the Oooohhs and Ahhhhs of Christmas came and went there was just one last (very important) thing to do. Clear coat. Just make sure the skis are very clean, get a high quality (Purdy) paint brush and put on a light coat of polyurethane.  Make sure to brush very slowly to prevent air bubbles from forming. Then make sure you have a completly dust free environment for them to dry in.  I made myself a little dust free shield for them to dry in.


Follow the directions on the can. Wait 3-4 hours, then take some “0000” grit steel wool and lightly sand the surface. Clean it off very well again and repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat……. Stop repeating when you feel like what you have on there will protect the skis when the idiot next you in the lift line runs over them with his freshly sharpened skis, while in freezing temperatures and they are covered in frozen water. In my opinion you keep repeating until you get bored. If you can manage to keep a steady hand and most importantly keep your patience you will end up with a product similar to this:


Good luck to you.

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Painting A Pair Of Skis: Sanding

Step 3: Prep

Alright.  With all the thinking done and behind me it is time to get to it.  So before you get started what you need here is a place to set up shop.  A friends garage will do just fine.  If you want to continue to be friends with these people after the project you might want to set up a little painting booth.  Stack up some giant storage containers, tape some drop cloths to the garage door, and you got yourself a little work corner.  For sanding just throw an old blanket over some chairs and you got yourself a little workbench.

Before you get started don’t forget (like I did) to mark where the midsole is.  Put some tape on the bottom and transfer the line to the bottom of the ski.

Next step is sanding.  This is the point of no return.  So close your eyes, hold your breath, and go to it.  I was told by the guys at the auto body shop that I would only need to sand it with some 600 grit paper.  Just enough to take the top sheet off.  After about 10 seconds of that I realized that was going no where fast.  I ended up going down to 120 grit paper.  After that I went and hit them again with 220 grit paper.  Piece of advice:  don’t worry about getting every nook and crevice, in my attempt to do this I ended up messing up the sanding job and got some scratches in the skis that I couldn’t get out.  Unfortunately I didn’t see these until I got a coat of paint on.  The key here: take your time, go really slow, don’t rush it.




What you are looking for here is enough sanding to take the shine off the top.  You are not going to sand the color off the skis, just enough to get as much of the top sheet that you can.  You can tell in the pic below that it is dull around the middle and shiny up ant the top of the ski.  This is what you are looking for.


After that orbital sander had sufficiently turned my hand into a block of jello, I was ready to move on to the fun part-painting..

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Painting A Pair Of Skis: Design

Step 2: Design

So what I am looking for with this projcet is a professional look.  I want people to look at the skis and say “wow, where did you get those skis? They are awesome.”  Not, “wow, cool….you paint those yourself?”  In order to achieve this I needed to come up with a cool design that was intricate enough to look amazing but still keeps it in the realm of reality.

After talking with a design friend of mine I found out that I needed to create the design on Adobe Illustrator.  Well as it turns out Adobe likes money and they want you to give them some to use their stuff.  This concept is great if you are Adobe, not so great if you are me.  Lucky for me Adobe lets you use their software for free for 30 days.  Plenty of time for me to get what I need out of it.  Que up about 3 straight days of teaching myself how to use a fairly complicated design program. These days consisted of quite a few youtube turorials, google searches looking like “how to draw a curved line on adobe”, and of course much more of the perverbial brick wall head bashing I discussed earlier.  In the end I pulled it off and came up a few options.

Design 1:

Design 2:

Design 3:

Design 4:

In the end I decieded to go with design 4.  I liked Design 2 the best but in an attempt to make the project a little easier I went with the straight lines of design 4.  If my later to be described method of using contact paper does not work then with this design I will at least be able to use painters tape to do the entire thing.  This also reduces the number of colors I have to use down to 3, making the project a little cheaper and easier.  I think it looks good.  Now if I can just make the end product look like that.

The last thing I needed to do was print out a life size version of the design so I can later trace it onto the skis.  This involved printing out about 20 or so pages and then taping them together.


With the design phase complete it is time to start getting to it.

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Painting A Pair Of Skis: Research

Step 1:  Research

The begining of my new project started a little something like this:  Take your head, go find a brick wall, and repeatedly smash your head against it.  Stop.  Take a look at the brick wall.  Does it look any different?  No.  I bet if you continue to bash your head against it you will get somewhere.  Continue on with the bashing.

Needless to say the research phase of my project was difficult.  As it turns out paint doesn’t really like cold temperatures, water, or having to be real flexible.  All things that skis are known to bump into from time to time.  After some extensive research on the subject I came to the conclusion that automotive paint was the best choice for this endavour.  So began the head bashing.  After visiting countless websites, talking on the phone to numerous “paint” experts, even going to an autobody shop, I figured out a few things about automotive paint.  1.  It is very expensive.  2.  Almost all of the time you need a professional sprayer to use it.  3.  It is nearly impossible to get automotive paint in  royal purple, pink, and teal.  In the end I just decieded to abandon the automotive paint option and just roll the dice using some Rustoleum spray paint.  Well, the guy at Hobby Lobby told me that Krylon was much better so I went with that.  So here is to rubbing a little Zarse Effect on it and hoping it works.  We shall see.

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A Christmas Project

I have an ideaA little insight into the mind of Scott Zarse.  Once I get an idea into my head that I like, I can’t stop thinking about it until I do it.  In this way I have spurratic bursts of OCD.  Maybe it is making a giant 4-wheeler powered slip and slide jump, creating a boat powered pulley swing, sending a Zarse made object into space, or my most recent whim: custom painting a pair of skis.

This story starts over Thanksgiving break.  We were up in Tulsa for the holiday and I was out getting some breakfast with some friends.  On my way home I decided to run by Sun and Ski and see if they were having any black Friday sales.  Well it turns out they were.  I found a pair of womens skis that were on sale 3 different times making them 95 bucks.  It was too good of a deal to pass up.  So I snatched up the skis for a Christmas present for my wife.  I figured we spend about that on rentals every year so if she didn’t like the skis we could throw them away and still come out even.  In order to keep this great Christmas deal from her until Christmas I ran the skis over to Andrea’s house.  Andrea and Nate were visiting her parents as well and would be going back to Dallas.   Nate also had a truck so he would be able to transport the skis for me.  Brilliant idea if you ask me.  Well all went well until we decieded to meet up with our friends for dinner on the way back home.  Nate arrives early to the restaurant (a high class establishment known as Braums) and decides that he should take the skis out of the bed of the truck so Steph doesn’t see them.  Well the timing of this procedure couldn’t be any worse and Steph sees the skis just as we pull up.  Andrea starts to try to come up with a cover story and I have zero faith in her ability to pull off a lie so I throw in the towel and tell her they are her Christmas present.  Dang.  Failure.  My wife does love suprises.  Then I keep thinking about the situation.  What does my wife love more than surprises?  The color purple.  That is right, she absolutly loves the color purple.  She can’t get enough of it.  The skis I bought are very…not purple.  Well here is where my brain took off.  The infamous Zarse line “I bet I can do that” showed up once more.  That is when I decided I would surprise her with her own custom painted purple skis for Christmas.  Bam.  Here we go.  So starts my next Zarse Effect series.  How to custom paint a pair of snow skis.  We will see if I can pull off The Zarse Effect one more time.

Reader:  I am writing these posts as I progress through the project but will obviously not post them until after Christmas. This is why they will be written in the present tense but as you are reading them they are past tense events.  Got it?  Good.

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DFD Adventures

Sometimes I like to read the comments on some of the other runs around the city.  Every once in a while I run across one like this and get a good chuckle.

You know you have done something right if after you are done having sex you have to call 911 to make sure your significant other is still alive.  Props to you my man.

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Now This Is Living

Someone posted a link to facebook recently and I have not been able to stop dreaming about it.  Check it out


Here is another longer video of him doing more amazing stuff:


Amazing.  Simply amazing.  That dude is flying.  Straight flying.  Like a freaking bird.  Technically more like a flying squirell, but whatever.  That is all of my childhood dreams of one day being able to fly coming true.  If that video doesn’t give you goosebumps then I don’t know what will.

There is no doubt about it that if I had a riduculus amount of money I would do that in a heart beat.  It is probably a good thing that I don’t have a ton of money because there are quite a few things that I would do in a heartbeat and most of them have a high chance of me no longer having a heart beat.  But what a way to go out.  That is living right there.

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The Colorado Effect

We all know how powerful The Zarse Effect is but a few weeks ago I discovered just how strong The Colorado Effect is.

The original plan was to go to Colorado with Nate and Andrea this July, but as you might know a different continent called our name.  Despite missing a thrilling whitewater rafting trip and an “electrifying” 14er ascent, we had a pretty good time ourselves on our European adventure.  But now it was time for our turn.

We begin our trip with a visit to the Fat Tire Brewery.  These guys did it right.  We left that tour about 4 beers deep.  Not really sure how they make beer, but we had a good time none the less…After a quick cool down period in the psychedelic bus we are good for our next adventure.

How about a little haunted corn maze action?  Sign me up.  You can also sign me up for the sunset we saw on the way there.

Off to Red Rocks for a little mountain biking.  This was a blast.  I haven’t ever really gone mountain biking before.  I love it.  This trail kicked my butt.  At one point I stated that if I made it the entire trail with out vomiting I would consider it a success.   Well victory was mine…..barely.  The grueling ascent at a mile high was a test for my respiratory and muscular systems.  The decent however was a test for my testicular system.  Man did I love flying down the mountain, white knuckled, trees a blur, balls to the wall, fully alive.  Life does not get much better than some good adrenaline pumping speed,  surrounded by beauty, and good friends.  Got to love it.

Next on the list was a little camping at Cheeseman Canyon.  Some good ol’ fashioned beefy mac and cheese, cheesy veggies, smores, a good campfire, put it all in a scenic paradise and I am not sure what else you could want.  Oh yeah.  How about a little fly fishing.  Ok.  Done.  Grant introduced me to this terrific new Colorado pass time.  Extremely difficult, crazy frustrating, ridiculous amounts of untangling really small fishing wire, but you really can’t beat standing in the middle of a stream in beautiful Colorado no matter what you are doing.  Even if those darn trout swim right up to your bait, stare at it, and say to you, naahh I’m good.

That is right, good times to be had by all.  Colorado boasted her impressive allure on me for sure.  I do love this place.  It is filled with beauty, adventure, excitement, and just about every adventurous hobby you can think of.  It attracts me like a moth to a flame.   Maybe one day The Colorado Effect can include The Zarse Effect but that day is not today, probably won’t be tomorrow either.  That is because Colorado is missing a few things:  My wife (that is enough right there), DFD, The Village, Matt Chandler, Russells, Porters, Dischers, Trahans, Treadwells, Pirtles, V-Heys, Sudans, and multiple others of the like.  These are things which I am not ready to trade for the allure of Colorado.  Not yet.  The Dallas Effect is stronger than one might think.

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DFD Adventures

Welcome to the wonderful world of South Dallas.  These wonderful citizen occupying the lower half of our city never cease to amaze me.  Always there for me when I need a good laugh.  The latest scene involves this fine young gentleman.  Apparently he was…..well he must have been trying to….he probably just lost his…..yeah I have got no idea what this guy is trying to accomplish.  Driving back to the station from a run one of the guys spotted a peculiar object hanging from the power lines.  We drive around to take a look.  Sure enough we pull upon this interesting sight.  As my Lieutenant snaps a picture of the strange spectacle my driver tells the guy to get down from there.  Well as you might imagine this guy’s a few inches short of a foot.  As he swings towards his ladder he pushes it off the pole and it falls away leaving him dangling from the wire by two hands.  As he hangs there like some kind of spider monkey, I quickly run over and put the ladder back against the pole and Mr. Brilliant scanters on down.  Oh yeah, saving lives right and left here in the big D.  Although experiences like this make you think twice about Darwin and all his theories about survival of the fittest, natural selection, and the like.  Oh well.  Another South Dallasite saved from the depths of stupidity…….for today.

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Plan B

For our country’s annual celebration of “I don’t feel like working” day Steph and I decided that a trip to our old alma mater was due.  I still have a few friends that have stuck around good ol Fayetteville, so we made a trip up there to see them.  It wasn’t long before we fell right back into the good times of awesome college antics.  I have a buddy, Parish, who was and still is my partner in crime when it comes to doing awesome exciting adventures.  It took us all of an hour after arriving before we had our entertainment for the weekend all mapped out.

Yes, it is stuff like this that makes hanging out with Parrish so awesome.  There is something special that happens when the two of us get together, that something is awesomeness.

So believe it or not this was actually plan B.  Plan A began with this video.  After I saw this I could literally not stop thinking about it for a week.  Unfortunately we came to the conclusion that we did not have the location, money, and resources to make Plan A happen in the time allotted.  Not to worry, I am confident that I will make it happen.  So we had to settle on Plan B, a boat powered rope swing.  As you can tell by our diagram we had thought of everything.  It was going to be epic.  In the end, despite thinking of everything, certain laws of physics got the best of us, so we never really perfected the awesomeness that was Plan B, but we had a blast giving it a shot.

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