It is hard to believe that it was almost ten years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one of these machines - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Along with the CNC router I discovered the wonderful material called Precision Board and the glues, primers and other companion products they offer. Since then we have gone through many tons of the material using it in most signs and projects we tackle. This journal will chronicle our many adventures both past, present and future. I'll talk from the perspective of someone who pushes these products to the creative limit on a daily basis. I'll be adding to the stories two or three times each week. -dan

Friday, May 7, 2010

A wonderful world of color

First came the blue base coats. We use acrylic paints in our shop exclusively. I like a brand we can only get in Canada but any premium grade house paint will do. This is not a place to try and save some money. We use General Paint premium exterior, semi gloss house paint. It is rated for 25 years and we have been using it for almost twenty years with proven results.
For the glazes I want translucent paint that will also stand the test of time. I didn't want to mix other brands of paint into the equation so I came up with the idea of using General Paints deep tint (clear) base as our glazing agent. We buy it without any tint in it, then mix in our own custom mixes (of the same brand paint) about 50/50 with the clear base. It looks milky in the can but dries clear. This is brushed on and then ragged off as a glaze to bring out our textures.
The blues are always tricky - especially with only a slight texture. To ensure success and an even pattern I did two light coats of glaze, leaving a little more on around the letters and towards the bottom of the oval to give it some weight. The lower lettering on the scroll got the same treatment.
Once the glaze was good and dry it was time to start cutting in the other colors. Because I had routed various layers of all the colored areas it was easy and fast to do the cutting between the different colors. The next color was always above the one below or at right angles to it. While experience with a brush makes things go faster, almost anybody can do it with relative ease.
I worked around the sign, leaving the freshly painted areas to dry well. Everything received at least two coats of each color, sometimes three, plus the blends. While it takes a while, we charge a premium dollar for our projects allowing us to spend the time we need to get it right. The pictorial was next on the list, first a double coated green base coat followed by blends and then a glaze to tie it all together.
I changed my mind on the outside ring color as I started to paint... and thought a metallic copper paint would look better than the dark chocolate I had originally planned. After the first couple of brush strokes I knew I had made the right decision.
The sign only needed its final coats of paint, a little blending on the scroll and then the gold leaf on the letters to be done. The end was in sight at last.