Progress 2023: Mural welcomes residents and progress to Thorsby
Published 10:26 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in “Progress 2023: Behind the Scenes.” Copies are available at The Clanton Advertiser, 1109 Seventh St. N in Clanton.
STORY & PHOTOS BY CAREY REEDER
Everyone in Chilton County who travels down Alabama Highway 31 through Thorsby sees the Scandinavian flag court harboring the flags of the town’s deep heritage. “The Scandinavian Settlement of the South” has always embraced their heritage and ancestry with open arms and that remembrance of where Thorsby came from took another step forward in 2022.
There is a small utility building behind the Scandinavian flag court at the corner of Rebel Street and Minnesota Avenue that houses a few items for the Thorsby Fire Department, but no major use of the building was needed. The idea to do something with the building was brought up in March of 2022, and a mural on the side of the building was suggested.
A growing trend of small towns in the south creating murals as destination spots for photos by travelers was popping up in towns in central Alabama. The small white building by the flag court was the perfect canvas for an artist to create a lasting impression on the city of Thorsby.
Enter Presley Langley, owner of the Yellow Room Design Co. in Prattville. She and her younger sister Ryder Langley, have created other murals in central Alabama, and were the duo tasked with encapsulating the 128-year history of Thorsby onto a single brick wall.
“This was basically the first thing we started that began this progress in Thorsby the last year,” Thorsby Mayor Robert Hight said. “Once it got painted we had business come in across the street, we have other businesses coming in soon too. It is happening around here.”
Whitney Barlow and the City of Thorsby’s council worked closely with Presely to get some mock designs drawn up for the mural that incorporated all the aspects the council wanted it to include.
“They gave me a few ideas in the beginning, and they wanted something that said ‘Welcome to Thorsby’ or a Swedish nod
in there,” Presley said. “They liked the old postcard style … We probably went through six to eight designs all together.”
Presley said she wanted to make sure the city council and Hight were happy with the design before putting paint to canvas. The designs began with more of a fruit theme to highlight Thorsby’s deep agriculture tradition, and changed to more of a municipality theme incorporating buildings from around the city.
“I thought the work she did on the mural was fantastic, and it looks great,” Hight said.
Presley Langley was given a book that highlighted the history of Thorsby, and the buildings on the right side of the mural were painted by inspirations from the buildings found in the book. A general store and train depot are depicted on the mural.
“A lot of times the client has an idea of what they want, but do not know how they want it executed,” Langley said. “That is the job of the designer is to take their ideas and their inspiration, and create something that everyone is happy with.”
The planning began in April 2022, and the Langley sisters attacked the Thorsby mural like any other one they have created. Presley heads the design of the mural and gets all the aspects a client wants on the mural included. When the time comes to put brush to the wall, that is where Ryder comes in.
“My favorite thing about the mural in
general is the retro look of it,” Ryder Langley said. “I am an old soul, so I like the vintage postcard look from cities. (Presley) did all the work designing it and I get to admire it now.”
The first day Langley sisters assessed the wall and made sure their crew had the correct materials. The city of Thorsby had the brick wall pressure washed to make sure it was clean and ready for paint. The sisters put a primer on the wall first with a paint sprayer that the company purchased for the Thorsby project. Grass connects to the bottom of the wall, and paint brushes would dirty the bottom of the mural, so a sprayer worked best.
“It was a long process, that is for sure,” Ryder Langley said. “I enjoyed it because I am a summer baby and I love the heat, (Presley) did not like it as much. I loved getting out under the sunshine to paint it.”
A projector was used to project the design onto the wall, so the details were perfect and the design matched up well with the wall. After the outlines, the sisters worked on painting the mural for six straight days working four to five hours each day.
The Thorsby building was the largest canvas Yellow Room Design Co. has painted sitting at just over 50 feet long.
“It is always intimidating because you know every letter and every fruit has to line up,” Presley said. “When you step back and see that it all works out you are so excited, and we were extremely happy with how it turned out.”
Presley said numerous people have reached out and told her the Thorsby mural is the best one Yellow Room Design Co. has created so far. The mural was a huge hit during the Swedish Fest
at Richard Wood Park on Oct. 8. Hundreds of people made their way across the road to see first-hand the work put in by the Langley sisters and take photos in front of one of the newest attractions in Thorsby.
The sisters posted the mural on the Yellow Room Design Co. social media pages and have received enormous positive feedback.
“I think I am so close to the work I do not see the progression, but I think over the years our designs have gotten more detailed, intense and professional looking,” Presley Langley said.
The planning for the mural began in April of 2022, and the mural was not complete until the end of September taking five months to bring all the ideas to a reality.