Parachutes and dead animals

I've been really busy the past couple weekends working on a project for a friend's uncle. Uncle Ron is a retired 82nd Airborne Army paratrooper, and when he decided that he wanted a bar and brewery at his hobby farm, his family rallied to get it done while he was in Arizona for the winter. He's returning this weekend, and I still have a lot of work to do!

I was asked, first and foremost, to hang a parachute in the barrel ceiling above the bar, making it look as though a cutout picture of the young Ron is landing in for a drink. It doesn't sound difficult, but it really is a perplexing task. We originally had a 6-foot fighter jet ejection parachute to work with, but it was just way too small to give the wow factor we were looking for. I had my friend's dad, Ron's brother, order a 25-footer that was actually used in the 82nd Airborne- it's easier to make something smaller than it is to make it bigger!

I cut out a section of the parachute (which was very nerve-racking! What if I screwed up?) that was about 12 feet wide. I wanted to save the cool details of the bottom edge where the cords connect, as well as the top, so I cut a strip out of the middle and tacked the pieces back together. I now have a wedge that is 12 feet wide with a 7-foot radius. I've got to attach Velcro along the edge so it can be strapped to a rigid tube to give it roundness, then mount the tube onto the ceiling in an attractive manner and run the cables back to the 6-foot tall cutout picture of young Ron in military parachuting gear. Simple, right? I guess we'll find out... I ended up not using the bendy tube- once the chute was in place and everything was tacked down, it held it's shape just fine and I removed it. It was helpful to keep everything in the right places while I attached it, though!


The fun part is that there is a lot of soft, durable, green parachute material left over from the huge chute- it will make great throw pillows and blankets for the leather couches that have been relocated to the bar.

But the parachute is only half of my project... I was also asked to add some ambiance to the sky-blue colored barrel ceiling by painting some military aircraft and paratroopers. Mind you, I'm just about 5 foot-nothing tall, and these ceilings are probably 15 feet high. Not to mention the odd angle caused by bumping a ladder up next to a bar perpendicular to the curve of the ceiling... no cushy task! I kind of felt like Michelangelo; I guess he was 24 when he painted the Sistine Chapel. Not that this is going to be the culmination of my life's work... I just thought it was interesting. :)

I'm also putting together a German "brauhaus" sign to hang above the bar. I guess Ron was stationed in Germany through most of his deployment, so it only makes sense!

I'm just a little unclear where all the dead animals tie into this... for some reason army paratroopers and stuffed wildlife don't mix in my head (unless a beaver is parachuting from the ceiling!), but hey, it's a man cave. What man cave wouldn't be complete without beer, heavy machinery, fancy sports cars, leather couches, an 80" flat screen and dead animals?