Sunday, May 10, 2015

Making My Fraternity Paddle

Coming into college, I have always been interested in Greek Life. I've rushed a few organizations and met some incredible people, but Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity, was the fraternity that I felt was the best fit for me. I was just initiated, and although the whole experience has been very hectic, it was definitely worth it. As a new brother, I had to make my "big" a paddle, which was a representation of my appreciation for the support and help she provided me through my pledging experience.
The most difficult part in making a paddle was probably designing it. I wanted to stray away from the popular chevron and glitter designs, simply because my big is very artistic and minimalistic. Some big's know exactly what they want, so feel free to ask them if they want anything in particular. My big said anything was fine, and that she just wanted something pretty. I wanted to work with this and since I knew that her favorite animal was a giraffe, I wanted to somehow incorporate a giraffe into the paddle. I started with searching "giraffe" on Pinterest and found many pictures of what I wanted to mimic.

The second most difficult part is choosing a color scheme. When I asked my big if she preferred certain colors, she said a white/creme background and maroon lettering. With this, I went out to look for these colors and planned out what colors I wanted the designs (the giraffe, etc.) would be.
Since pledging was a costly experience, I wanted to save as much as I could on materials. I had acrylic paints, poster stickers, and brushes already, so I only needed to purchase a few things. I wanted to buy spray paint with primer in it, and a small bottle of maroon paint, since I didn't have any. If you're looking for cheaper spray paints and paints, Walmart has very good, cheap ones! Also remember that you can split costs with your fellow pledge brothers. When choosing a paint best suited for your wooden paddle, keep in mind that you want the paint to adhere well to the wood. It's in my experience that water based paint, specifically water based acrylic paint, worked well for me. (It also comes off easily when you get it on your skin!)

Some things I learned in making a paddle includes that you should definitely give yourself at least a week to finish your paddle. You usually need several coats of paint, and painting the background alone can take up to three days complete. I also realized that darker backgrounds, like maroon, black, etc., comes out really nice on paddles.

In the end, the paddle came out differently from what I first hoped it would look like, but I am proud of the outcome. It was a very fun experience, especially since I do not paint often, and I'm glad that I got to work hard on something to give to my awesome big! Enjoy the process in making your paddles, and remember to keep in mind that this is a gift to an important member of your pledging process!

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