The next step in the process was to strengthen their home structures and design the exteriors. Once they were happy with how their home looked, each Jr. Viewfinder painted a coat of gesso onto the exterior to help fortify the structure. It also created a blank, white layer for them to work with as they started their design process.
The first step in designing the exteriors was a photo transfer process. We used the texture photos that they took earlier in the project. The youth picked a few of their favorites and then we showed them how to do photo transfer. The way it works is that you print your photo on regular paper and make sure to cut out the part you want to use. Then apply a thin coat of a specific type of gel (a few popular brands are Liquitex and Golden) over the whole image. Next, you place the image, with the gel on it, face down on the part of the structure you want it to be. After that, it has to sit for several hours. So, the next day, you come back and use a wet rag to rub away the paper. Once all the paper is gone, you're left with the image on the home structure. (Tip: if you want to use words, make sure to print the mirror image of the words!)
For us, this process was a mixed bag. It's never going to look perfect--and that's part of the effect, especially when transferring the image onto a material like cardboard. But, some of our youth were expecting it to look perfect, so they weren't so happy with how a few turned out. It also proved to be more time consuming and difficult to rub the paper away than we'd thought, so the youth struggled to stay focused on that rather tedious task. Ultimately, though, their homes looked great with the images, even with rough and torn edges, and most of the youth, enjoyed learning the process. The final step in the exterior design was to paint and draw anything else they wanted onto their homes. A lot of them filled in the blank areas with colors or painted a pattern on a wall. You can see some photos of us at work below!