Wall to wall arches

Peter and I are off to Florida for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions EXPO on Saturday to man our booth during the event. We will be gone for an entire week. In our absence we wanted to make sure the crew had plenty to do and that we did. Over the last couple of weeks we applied and sculpted the fibreglass reinforced concrete to fourteen arches, as well as numerous posts and beams. The crew’s task is to paint all of these pieces in our absence.

Today, we put the newly sculpted pieces (done yesterday) onto their mobile racks and pulled all of the previously done pieces into the shop. It filled the shop space entirely with a little bit of walking room to spare. We then dared the crew to finish before we returned. The challenge is on!

Final pictures of the Pub Signs

No project is complete they say until all of the paperwork is done. That of course includes documenting the finished pieces with great photographs. The pub signs won’t be installed in the project until some moths down the road. Chances are the lighting won’t be great and the backgrounds will be busy and cluttered. We’ll get pictures then but in the meantime we needed some good ones. The solution was to set up a temporary photo backdrop (two sheets of plywood) and paint it a neutral colour. We then rolled the signs into place, one at a time and took a bunch of pictures with a good quality digital camera. These pictures were then brought into Photoshop and tweaked a little. Lighting and contrast were adjusted, and the images were cropped and adjusted so there was no keystoning. In about an hour we had images of the seven signs that were of great quality.

The Crown & Pin Pub sign is now the marquee for the establishment. Very different on both sides it still looks great from any angle.

The Garden Gnome sign makes me smile. I’m not generally a big fan of the color green but it certainly is the perfect choice for this sign. The two sides of the sign are similar but not at all identical. It would be hard to pick a favourite.

Peter designed the Moon Wine sign and did an awesome job. He cleverly used dimension to make it work well from both sides.

The Trolls Bitter Ale sign is one of those pieces that is so ugly its cute. The colours Becke picked are fittingly gundgy. It’s a classic.

The Forest Lady sign is pure class and elegance – as it should be. The colours are muted and earthy. The welded steel bracket defies description and reminds me of a regal set of feet antlers.

The Toad Stool Elixir sign was great fun. The 23K gold leaf on the lettering adds some serious bling to an earthy and well aged sign.

The Merry Dragon Pub sign was also a great deal of fun. My goal was to create a sign that looked to be a hundred years old with a baby dragon perched on top. This sign is a piece of high contrast as it sparkles brightly and yet sports a well worn age.

Last two pub signs substantially complete

The last of the six pub sings are now substantially complete. The Crown and Pin Pub sign received the last of it’s aging glazes polishing it off.

The Forest Lady Spirits sign still needs a last weathering glaze on the bracket. We’ve set up and painted a photo backdrop and tomorrow the signs will be gone over one last time as necessary and then documented photographically.

Four Pub signs finished

Four of the six pub signs are now complete. They make for a unique and eclectic collection. The Garden Variety Gnome Schnapps sign sports some bright traditional garden gnome colours.

The Moon Wine sign combines some very unique colours (for our studio) Jenessa did a wonderful job on the hand blends throughout.

The Toad Stool Elixir sign looks suitably aged but the 23K gold leaf brightens it back up with some serious bling!

The Trolls Bitter Ale sign is warm and inviting. Becke did an awesome job with the subtle blends.

Rolling arches

With four arches sculpted it was time to build some stands and put two arches in each one back to back. The stands have removable wheels which makes it easy to roll them around the shop while we do the painting. The wheels drops off as we load them into the shipping trucks. The first arch we did is painted and complete and will be a reference for all to follow. We’ll keep it around until we have done the rest.

Getting up to speed

We’ve been pushing hard in the shop of late, keeping both the MultiCam plasma cutter and router very busy. It’s not often we use the router for 2D cutouts but we’ve cut about 40 sheets of plywood in the last week with all of the pieces we need to start serious production of the arches. Well go through a couple more skids of plywood yet on this project.

We are working in an assembly line method. The CNC machines churn out the pieces. First the cut metal plate pieces are welded together and this is then mated to the square tubing frames. Each arch assembly has sixteen plasma cut pieces and about thirty pieces of tubing and twenty-five shapes of cut 3/4″ thick plywood.

Once we have a few armatures finished it is time to do a little sculpting. We managed three arches today as a trial run. From now on our goal is to do four each mud day.

In another section of the shop the painters are busy pre painting the number plates. Like the arches they will appear well worn and ancient. This is just over half of the required numbers.

Ready to hit the rough road

The Merry Dragon sign is to be displayed in the Coastal Enterprises (Precision Board) booth at the International Sign Association EXPO in Las Vegas this coming April. It will be shipped and handled by many people. Over the course of the sign show it will be locked on and poked by hundreds of sign makers as they try to figure out how it is made and what it is made from. After the show it will be handled many more times and shipped to other shows and poked by many hundreds of other curious people.

Because of all the wear and tear the sign will be exposed to we decided a weathered look was the order of the day. I finished up the sign with a perfect paint job of all brilliant and shine colours. Then I added a series of aging glazes. Once the paint has sufficiently dried I took out our sander and rubbed off a whole bunch of the paint, especially on the corners of the metal where we could expect wear and tear. Then I sprayed these parts liberally with a mild acid to encourage some serious rust.

The sign is now ready to hit the road with style!

Production begins in earnest

With the prototype finished and approved it is time to get the NEB’s Fun World bowling centre project in full production. Both the MultiCam plasma cutter and CNC router have been running steady of late. The router is churning out the number plates and panels for the posts. As quick as they come off of the machine the crew begins the painting.

The plasma cutter is cutting all sorts of pieces and brackets. These too are welded up as fast as they come off of the machine. Once they have cooled the corners and welds are ground smooth in readiness for the larger assembly process to start tomorrow. The shop is busy and filling up fast!

Merry Dragon pub sign – part four

This little pub sign will be displayed at the Coastal Enterprises (Precision Board) booth at the ISA show in Las Vegas this coming April.

With the sign fully assembled and the carving of the Precision Board finished it was time to do a little hand sculpting. I started with the bare armature, coating that with sculpting epoxy and then bulking it out with crumpled balls of tinfoil. I built it up layer after layers until I had the basic shape down pat. At that point I could start in on the detail. I began with the tail and worked my way up to the top. In the top two photos he is complete save his face and arms.

The next day I finished off the last details. It took about ten hours to sculpt the dragon in total.

Then it was time to begin the paint. I started with the base colors, all hand brushed and water based. I was using Modern Masters Metallics which cover well and blend easily. The dragon first got a coat of gold. The second coat was a brighter gold color on top blending through down to a apple green on the bottom. The sign is a light metallic blue for the base coat.

Next week I’ll begin the glazing and build up the colors gradually, first with the dragon and then down to the woodgrains on the sign and post. I’m still a little undecided about the metal dragon bracket and the base but that will be worked out as I proceed. Stay tuned…

Merry Dragon pub sign – part three

We are really enjoying mixing mediums and using EnRoute to create the files for both steel (using a CNC plasma) and HDU ( using a CNC router). Using the same software to create both sets of files at the same time ensures the pieces fit together seamlessly and perfectly every time.

With the assembly of the routed pieces complete it was time to move on to the welded steel base and support structure. I designed all of the pieces in EnRoute and the MultiCam CNC plasma cutter made quick work of the cutting of the steel pieces. The base plate is 1/2″ thick steel to ensure the piece is bottom heavy and resistant to tipping over if someone bumps it. There is a length of 3″ x 3″ square tubing that goes up the middle providing ample structural strength to the post. The steel collar welded up around the 30 lb Precision Board. I welded the steel in short bursts to keep the heat down and the 1/4″ thick steel dissipated the heat nicely.

The lengthwise piece is where I will weld the heavy duty dragon bracket. I welded a second layer of 10 gauge steel plate behind the letters.

We then positioned the dragon bracket onto the post and welded it into place. This shot clearly shows the four layers of 1.5″ thick 30 lb Precision Board which we glued up for the sign. We used Coastal Enterprises PB BOND 240 – a one part glue activated by spritzing with water. It tends to squeeze out the edges a little but it is no problem as we always add texture there later anyway.

In the next shot you can see where I quickly used our hand held air powered die grinder to remove the glue and a thin layer of HDU. If there is any minor misalignment of the layers this is taken care of at the same time. I also use the hand held grinder to add woodgrain to the edges, bottom and top of the sign.

The first step of sculpting the little merry dragon is to weld up a quick armature with pencil rod. The rods are glued into predrilled holes in the Precision Board. Tomorrow I’ll work on the sculpt and then it is ready for paint!