What the globe in Carlson Library needed was love, sweet love. And some new paint.
“After 43 years, the globe was very dirty and showing a lot of wear. To the best of my knowledge, it had never been properly cleaned,” David Remaklus, director of library operation, said. “During the renovations of the third floor last summer, we realized the globe needed some attention.”He contacted Karen Roderick-Lingeman, senior lecturer of art, who recommended a senior majoring in art for the job.
“Simone Tilmon is one of our talented bachelor of fine arts majors,” Roderick-Lingeman said. “I thought she would be an excellent student to work on the Carlson Library globe due to her sensitive attention to detail.”
Enter Tilmon, who provided TLC for the globe this semester.
“At first, I cleaned with rags, but there are a lot of crevices, so I had to get a scrub brush and some solution that would not damage the paint that was already there,” Tilmon said.
She consulted with Arturo Rodriguez, associate professor of art, and Daniel Hernandez, assistant professor of art, who suggested she use Simple Green to clean the globe. They also agreed that acrylic paint would be the best fit to match the globe.
After two weeks of cleaning, Tilmon started brightening up the world in late September.
“I thought that the painting process would be a lot easier to match up the colors. But it was very difficult to try to paint certain areas of the globe, to restore it, because of the fading issue,” she said. “I really liked trying to keep as much of the globe as it is; it was a challenge.”
Painting the 320-pound sphere that measures 6 feet in diameter on site also made the task interesting. With some scaffolding, Tilmon literally was on top of the world.
“I really enjoyed the painting. It was fun,” the artist said. “I really liked painting the snow caps — painting the Greenland area and Antarctica area — everything that had to do with a white touch-up. It looked finished and pristine.”
The most difficult part of the worldly task? “The water gave me the most problem,” Tilmon said. “It changes colors throughout, and I had to try to match that paint.”
Installed in Carlson Library in 1973, the oceanographic geophysical earth globe was custom made for the University by Rand McNally & Co. in New York. At the time, it was one of only four of its kind crafted. According to a 1973 story that ran in UT’s alumni publication, eight shades of blue were used to differentiate contoured ocean depths, and hand-painting of the globe took approximately 575 hours.
Tilmon worked more than two months adding color to the globe.
“Simone did a fantastic job. We couldn’t be happier with the transformation,” Remaklus said. “She was extremely careful to be sure every nook and cranny of the globe was properly cleaned, and the touch-up was limited to only those places where it was needed to be sure the globe looked as it did when new. I was amazed at how vibrant the colors were after 45 years of dust was removed.”
For more than 30 years, the globe was an attraction on the first floor of Carlson Library. When the Information Commons opened in 2007, it was moved to the third floor by the maps collection.
“Because the globe was on the first floor for nearly 35 years, many of our alumni remember it. We often get questions as to its whereabouts,” Remaklus said. “On the third floor, the globe has a prominent space just off the elevators. It looks wonderful in the newly renovated floor.”
He added the electric motor that turns the globe will be repaired next year.
In 2017, Tilmon will study interior design at the University of Cincinnati. She will graduate with a bachelor of fine arts degree from UT Saturday, Dec. 17.
“Art has been all that I’ve done since I was a toddler. I realized quickly this is what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “Art is how I assess the world around me and the one way I know how to express my thoughts.”