Once all the panels were glued on and the glue had dried, I used sandpaper to trim down any panels that were higher than the skirt top and also smoothed the joints between the panels. I then used spackling paste to fill gaps and cracks and sanded again once that had dried.
Next, I used some gray primer spray paint from Hobby Lobby and already this is starting to look metallic rather than wooden. I invested in decent face mask from Home Depot before tackling the spray painting as those fumes can be dangerous. It's important to spray a small amount and then let it dry for a minute before spraying on the next coat otherwise it starts to build up in uneven lumps and then starts to run.
After the first few coats of primer I realized that the whole skirt had started to warp a little so I started putting weights on between each coat to keep the structure stable.
I'm now starting to think I really can pull this off :-)