My Latest Project: Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon's Celtic Knot

Created by
Kim Wenger Hall

Dave Boisvert, one of the owners of Boisvert’s Painting, recently reached out to see if I would be interested in painting a 3-color graphic Celtic knot on a ceiling at the newest Salt Hill Pub location opening soon in West Lebanon. Of course, I jumped on the project.

The location of the project was to be on the ceiling in the dining room of the new Salt Hill location in West Leb – previously the Seven Barrel Brewery. Salt Hill now has 5 locations, all locally owned and operated: Lebanon, Hanover, Newbury, Newport, and now on 12-A in West Leb. Salt Hill is pure Upper Valley mixed with fresh Irish fare and great atmosphere. I like their motto, too: Honest Food, Perfect Pints, Living Music.

So, back to the art… In case you don’t know, “Celtic” design is synonymous with traditional Irish aesthetics. The Vikings, who invaded the Irish coasts off and on for a few centuries, brought some of these styles with them from Scandinavia, and the Irish incorporated them into existing Christian motifs. These designs, found all over the Irish Isles, combine organic loops, swirls, and symbols with animals, plants, the occasional mythical beast and of course, lots of Christian iconography. Pre-Christian Irish culture also snuck its way into the mix. The Celtic Knot is a perfect example of this mingling of cultures.

Anyhoo… Josh Touhy, co-owner of the Salt Hill family of pubs, provided a 3-color vector jpg of the desired design: A chrome green circle with intertwined golden yellow shapes, which formed a complex knot, all surrounded by a jet black ring. Josh McGarry and Brian Frampton, two of the Salt Hill management team, were awesome to work with, too – facilitating the project and welcoming me onto their worksite.

In order to paint the decorative Celtic knot, I had to first map out the design in 4 quadrants, then measure the dimensions of the room and the coordinates of the ceiling; including dodging can lights, speakers and aligning with existing windows and posts. The final painting would be a circle of about 8½ feet in diameter. Enter the tools: scaffolding, a radius marker (a thumbtack, painters tape, a watercolor pencil and 10’ length of polypro string,) yardsticks, measuring tapes, an overhead projector rented from Upper Valley Tool Rental and a transparency from Staples. I painted the yellow circle first, then mapped out one quarter of the design using a watercolor pencil, making notations of what was to be green, what was to be yellow, and what was to be black. Then came the tape and paint. A lot of tape. Each line had to match up with a corresponding line in 2 of the adjacent quadrants creating the outlines of what were to become the green shapes within the yellow circle.

Salt Hill West Leb is going to be a knockout addition to the Upper Valley’s food and bef offerings. Dave and his painting crew, the guys of Keyser Karpentry, and a host of other locally-owned contractors have completely transformed the old brewery into an authentic-looking Irish pub: warm, cosy and inviting.

The Celtic knot on the ceiling is a really nice touch, if I do say so myself. I’ll be sure to be there on opening day to see the place in action.

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