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Mural in downtown Norwalk 'bigger' project than expected

Cary Ashby • Jan 4, 2019 at 2:00 PM

The colorful mural decorated with recycled plastic lids set up in downtown Norwalk was a project two years in the making.

“It morphed into a beast of its own,” Linda Bersche, Norwalk Area United Fund executive director, said with a smile. “It turned into something much bigger than I expected.”

Intended to help celebrate Norwalk’s bicentennial in 2017, the mural — Bersche’s brain-child — took about 18 months to complete. Based on similar projects for children, it became a much larger undertaking. The mural stands 8 feet by 16 feet in Suhr Park beside the Frontier building.

“We had 18 groups and individuals donate lids or glue them on,” said Bersche, who has studied art. “We had thousands and thousands (of lids) donated. I bet we had 30 30-gallon bags of plastic lids — and a lot of different groups that glued them on.”

But not just any glue would hold the lids, due to the various types of plastic. The only suitable glue came in tubes that cost $10 each — which had to be special-ordered.

“Nothing else would work. We went through three cases,” Bersche said. “It’s not on any shelf.”

The lids are attached to sections of corrugated board which are on four pieces of 4-by-4 marine-grade plywood. The backing board went up in December 2016.

“It was Ken Leber who dug those three holes. Those holes are 3 feet deep,” Bersche said.

Leber, Bersche and her husband Jim, Mike Moore and Howard Wilde helped put up the backing board and frame.

In addition to the special glue to attach the lids, there is a coating used for ultra-violet protection and to seal the mural.

“We will probably take it down before it looks like shambles. For all the hard work (we did), we hope it makes it through the winter,” Bersche said. 

While Bersche designed the top of the mural and the maple-leaf borders, Norwalk resident Chris Castle used a computer to design the “200” at the bottom, which features a tractor-trailer and train.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of murals,” said Castle, who jumped at the chance to help when Bersche approached him. 

Castle, who designed the 200 logo for about “two weeks on and off,” said it was important to reflect the two historical eras when Norwalk was a transportation hub.

“I knew I wanted the transportation history to be reflected there,” added Castle, who thinks the finished product is “amazing” and has a lot more detail than he expected.

Bersche shared the trick to color-coordinating the lids of various sizes with the design.

“There is a color-coded drawing underneath it all. So when people put on the lids, it was like painting by numbers with lids.”

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