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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More questions and more answers

Other questions I received this week concerned the sculpting medium we use for our projects. There are many on the market. We use Abracadabra Sculpt. It is a two part epoxy putty (much the same consistency as plasticene I used as a kid).  www.abracadabrasigns.com/smooth_and_sculpt/home It is mixed in equal quantities and then sculpted. Once it cures it is rock hard and durable! The sculpt is sold in kits in various sizes from two pounds to a hundred pounds (two five gallon buckets).  The more you buy the less expensive it is per pound. We use a fair amount of it in our shop, so we buy it in one or two thousand pound lots (ten - twenty 100 lb kits) at a time. Is it expensive... I don't think so. A few dollars of sculpt will do many times that in sign work, making it a worthwhile expense!

I put a thin coat over the mesh, and then allow it to cure. The next day the sculpting layer is done. For the tree bark I pressed on a layer of sculpt, then using crumpled tinfoil I pressed in the bark texture. Lastly I used a sharpened stick to draw in the lines. A helpful hint here would be to wet the tpools or sculpt with water to prevent the tools from sticking.

The last question we fielded this week concerned our paints. We use100 percent acrylic paints in our shop - all hand brushed. We tend to put the colors on nice and bright, then tone them down with glazes. We mix our own glazes using a clear base (without tint). We mix this clear base with the acrylic paints we have on hand at a ratio of 50% clear to 50% paint and then add a teen bit of water to make it flow. We slop this on and then wipe it down with a soft shop rage to remove the glaze from the higher areas, leaving it in the crevices and dips. We like to work from dark to light adding as many layers of transparent glaze as we need - generally two - five coats of color. The brighter the base coats the more vibrant the piece will be when it is done. Below is a picture of the horse sign with the base coats on. It's just too much as it is now. In a day or two it will look great as the other colors are layered on. 

Stay tuned...