Black eye candy

Back in April I wrote a blog post about plasma cutting ten tons of skulls.  We tossed them into the last shipment of shipping containers. On Sunday we fished two of the plasma cut pieces from one of the bins and delivered it to a local welding shop. They welded them into the test fence panels which were delivered and welded into place today. The owner and I inspected the result and declared them finished. The welder then backed his truck to the shipping container and we fished our sixty more of the plasma cut logos. Soon the park will be a whole lot spiffier and more secure.

Thinking ahead to next year at IAAPA

With a successful International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) EXPO now behind us we are beginning to dream up concepts for next year’s show. Our idea to build a one piece display which set up (and take down) in mere minutes worked exceptionally well. We’ll build on that concept next year. We are seriously considering taking a twenty foot booth next year, doubling our space. But to keep costs in check we want to pack that doubling of our display into the same compact shipping unit – which has to measure ten feet long by seven and a half feet wide by eight feet tall. That’s a challenge!

I began the design working in EnRoute. This allowed me to work accurately and accurately in scale. It also allowed me to tweak the design quickly so all of the pieces fit together. The view from above was of a mini stage with the walls hinged at the corners to fit together perfectly.

Then the walls are unfolded the booth will measure twenty feet wide by ten feet deep. A ‘floating’ high-tech motor cycle will act as a photo opportunity. We will happily take pictures of our prospects and send them to them afterwards when we follow up on their visit. The motor-cycle will come out from the raised platform on a sliding mechanism and slide back to allow shipping.

Once I had a workable plan it was time to do up the concept art. The top portion of the display will fold down into the canopy for shipping. This folding mechanism will have a hydraulic assist to make the setup easy. This is going to be a whole lot of fun!

Spring horse farm sign

The latest project is a fun one. Once again it will involve a number of disciplines and materials. The post is to be made of structural steel surrounded by hand sculpted Fibreglass Reinforced Concrete. The horseshoe and sign board will be routed from 30 lb Precision board (with a welded steel core) and the horse will be hand done using sculpting epoxy.

I used the hand drawing as a template to create the vectors I needed to create the routing files. This project is fairly simple. I then duplicated and combined the vectors to create the middle section of the sign. A square tubing frame will be fit and welded up into the center to add some structural strength.

I started with the sign board. A simple flat relief was created as a first step. I made it 1.2″ tall.

I then used a modifier file (from the new Woodgrain Texture Collection) Keeping in mind that black does nothing, white will raise the relief by the amount entered and greys do something in-between depending on their value we know that this bitmap file will effectively twist or warp the relief by 0.4″ over it’s length and width.

Next up was the woodgrain. Before this step I created a copy of the vectors and flipped them for the back side of the sign.  I removed the lettering from this sign. Once more I was using a bitmap file from the new woodgrain collection. For the front side I drew a rectangle around the board for the purpose of modifying the relief. I did not want the woodgrain to go through the lettering and by selecting the relief, the lettering border and the rectangle the texture is applied to the board but not the lettering.

On the reverse side there was no lettering and so the woodgrain bitmap texture was applied to the entire board.

I then selected the relief and that same lettering border and modified the relief by raising the lettering border. It followed the warp of the board.

I then selected the lettering and the base relief (the board) and added the lettering using the dome tool.

The horse shoe was created in a number of steps.  I first created a flat relief using the horse shoe shape. Then the toe piece and heel nubs were created and taller reliefs. These were then combined with the base relief. The long holes which hide the heads of the nails were subtracted from the horseshoe relief on the front side of the sign only.

I then used the subtract from command to cut the nail holes into the shoe by 0.2″ This was done on both sides of the sign.

I then combined the reliefs to finish the files. They were then ready for tool pathing and sending off to the MultiCam.

Thinking way ahead

Before the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions EXPO had finished we were already talking about next year’s show and what our booth might look like. At this show, like every show entry we had previously done we were reminded that people ask about what we have on display. They can’t imagine what else you might be capable of.

We had packed this year’s display chock full of signs, design art and pictures of finished projects. Our videos were playing on the television and we had slide shows handy on our iPads. It worked well. But not year we want to build a booth that showcases our larger work along with our ability to tell a good story. We will most likely also include a drawing table with me perched there doing some concept drawing. We will also spell out (with signs) that we do concept design, and building of mini golfs, adventure parks and themed restaurants.

While we crammed a whole lot into ten by ten feet this year we are thinking a twenty foot booth next year would allow us to operate a lot more comfortably – especially when things get busy. As far as theme, well, it has to be over the top.

Before we began design we sat down with the organizers of the show and talked about rules regarding height and signage. They do not restrict height for showing our product. We just can’t put any of our advertising up there. No problem!

After much discussion we decided on a space – mechanical – tech theme. We wanted it to be colourful but well worn and aged. We also wanted a photo opportunity in the booth – hence the flying motorcycle. Who could possibly resist? We want to create a truly memorable experience (with pictures) for all who stopped in. We will offer to take their picture and with a badge scan send it to them by email.

The entire twenty foot booth will assemble easily and quickly, folding out and tipping up with little extra assembly. It will condense down to form a single ten foot by eight foot self enclosed pallet for ease of shipping.

This is going to be fun!

When the boss is away

While we were attending the IAAPA EXPO in Orlando, Florida our crew stayed behind to work in the shop. They did not disappoint. Their task was to paint as many of the bowling alley arches as they could in the five work days they had. They applied the three base coats to all twelve arches and got a good start on the glazes. five arches were finished with only a little more work left on the remaining pieces. They all look fabulous! It sure is nice to have a crew we can count on whether the management is in the shop or not. THANKS!


The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions EXPO was a wonderful success. Over the course of four days we were privileged to showcase our company to thousands of potential clients from around the world. Our presence was small this year, our first as participants in the show. The reaction to our booth was overwhelmingly positive. We were delighted to be honoured with a Brass Ring Award for Best Exhibit in our category – no small feat in a show this size.

Quick as a wink setup

Last year we decided to attend the IAAPA EXPO (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions EXPO) as vendors. We designed a booth and built it from plasma cut steel, Precision Board and sculpted concrete. We built the display as one piece with the logic it would save time and money as we set it up. Today was the test. We got into the show area just after nine o’clock this morning and by ten o’clock were back in the hotel. Setup was that quick! Tomorrow morning we will go in for a few minutes once more to unroll the carpet and check things over one last time. The trade show starts on Tuesday morning.

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.