Annapolis, Maryland-based Gayle Mangan Kassal, owner/operator of GMK Fine Art, was recently commissioned by Benfield Elementary School in Severna Park, Maryland, to create a mural, using student help, to brighten up an otherwise bland hallway. To complete the project, she chose Scranton, Pennsylvania-based Vycom‘s Celtec line of display materials.
Celtec expanded PVC material was chosen, Kassal says, because she’s used it a lot and she knows it would be safe for the students to work with.
“This substrate is student-friendly because it does not splinter or warp like old, traditional methods of mural work using wood products,” says Kassal, whose work is often inspired by nature. “It’s flexible and half the weight. Celtec is extremely easy to cut into shapes and produces very little dust or residue when sanding or cutting. This means it’s safe for use in my home studio, around my children, as well as for the students I work with.”
Benfield’s art teacher, Tracy Edwards, was the driving force behind the mural project, wanting as many of her third, fourth and fifth grade students to be as hands-on as possible. According to Vycom’s description of the project, “She (Edwards) defined the mural’s focus as bringing the joys of summer sailing inside and joining it with the delight of learning.
“The school’s official colors are red, white and blue. However, the hallway includes bright, apple-green support poles and fluorescent orange lockers. Using all of these and more, Kassal designed a colorful mural to unify the space and honor the school. Sailboats ride on the ‘wave’ pages of an old, well-loved book of dreams and Mark Twain’s quote of ‘Explore, Dream, Discover’ provided names to the three boats.”
Kassal and the students painted on Â¼”-thick Celtec expanded PVC sheet panels purchased from Piedmont Plastics‘ outlet in Elkridge, Maryland. Kassal prepped all seven, 10′ x 4’ panels in her studio and brought a few at a time to school for students to apply the basecoats.
“(Celtec) holds up beautifully to many coats of paint and polyurethane without cracking or chipping,” says Kassal. “Even after being without air conditioning during a humid summer, the mural looks pristine.”