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, April 26, 2017

2018 Sign Invitational

With this year's Sign Invitational now behind us our thoughts are already turning to next year's event. It will be hosted once again in MultiCam's booth at the ISA EXPO in Las Vegas. The dates for the show are March 22-24, 2018. This means all who wish to enter have only eleven months to go. If you wish to enter please contact me at dan@imaginationcorporation.com or jdawson@synergysign.com

The theme for next year is 'MARVELOUS MACHINE' which allows for LOTS of creativity. The build envelope is 2' wide by 2' deep by six feet tall. You are allowed to put your name on the entry if you wish but no other company's identification.

I of course got right to work while we were still at the show. Each year the pieces get a little more elaborate so it is critical that I pulled out all of the stops. Much of my piece is still under wraps or not yet figured out but the general idea is pretty solid...  Being a most marvellous machine, it will need to run of course. And without a doubt I have a few more surprises up my sleeve of course. This is going to be one of the most challenging and fun pieces I have tackled. Stay tuned for ongoing progress developments...

Sign Invitational in Las Vegas a huge success

The Sign Invitational in the MultiCam booth at the ISA EXPO in Las Vegas went beyond all expectations. There were only six entries this year because of some last minute cancellations but the crowd of lookers more than made up for it. The booth was busy for the three days of the show, and crowded during the busy times of the day. More than 900 votes were cast. The contest was close but I'm happy to report that my piece 'Train Magic' garnered the most votes.

Thanks so much to our sponsors without whom this fun contest wouldn't happen. MultiCam provided the show space. Other sponsors included EnRoute Software, Precision Board, Laird Plastics and SignCraft.

Because of the last minute cancellation by some entrants we sent down two of our last year's pieces. They still got a lot of attention at the show.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The next dream project

With each project we tackle our goal is to raise the bar far higher than we ever have previously. Each piece of the puzzle incorporates all we've learned before.

The projects that have offered us the most creative freedom are our own personal projects. With that in mind we have latched our latest project. It's a big one...  our most ambitious yet!

The project will be four little inns on one property. Each luxury inn will be themed to a separate story. Current themes include a castle, a hobbit style house, an inventor's lair and an explorer's place. All will be heavily themed both inside and out. Each will be about 600 square feet with a private garden of similar size.

As we do the concept designs we are thinking of how we will build each piece. The key is exquisite detail throughout. And our MultiCam router and plasma cutter will play a huge role in the construction. The materials too are important as we want the place to be durable and long lasting. This means plenty of fibreglass reinforced concrete and 30 lb Precision Board throughout.

Stay tuned for a most excellent adventure!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Last of the big pieces for the PNE

This past Thursday was delivery day for the last of the large pieces for the PNE. We loaded the two big pieces onto the low bed semi truck with a large crane in our yard and then headed into the city sixty-five miles distant. The trip went off without incident.

At the other end of our journey a second crane was waiting and we hooked up the pieces and hoisted them into place. The globe with the bugs holding it up weighed in at about 3,800 lbs. The dancing bug was then lifted up last and easily slid into position. Everything bolted into place in minutes.

It was a simple matter of hooking up the tree on the attachment points and slinging it into position. Our client will decide on a final position and then pour a concrete base for the sign. There are five bolt holes plasma cut into the steel plate base to facilitate permanent installation.

The ladybug holding the tuned out really nice. Ut's plenty sturdy with it's welded steel framework inside.

Since we dropped off the Flutterby sign/operator's booth last time they have installed the fence panels we did plus the ride. We are currently fabricating some gates and five more fence panels to complete this project.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tree almost complete

The tree with the bug hanging the banner is also nearing completion.  I am delighted with how the routed banner is coming along. We added a subtle blend of darker red in the shadows of the banner to make the folds appear even deeper. It worked well. The piece is now complete save for a blend on the lettering.

Coat after coat of paint

The bugs were painted multiple coats of base colours and then a series of glazes to highlight the various bits and mechanical components. With each successive colour the bugs came to life. The painting is going well with two days left before we are shipping the bugs out we only have the final colours on the lettering left to do.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring is the busiest season in our shop as all of our customers want to be open and running full blast through the warm summer months. This is why I got such an early start on my Sign Challenge project back before Christmas. I knew that if I couldn't't get the bulk of the project done before the New Year things would get a little tight at the end.

With our large projects getting ever further away it has meant my long distance trips are getting more frequent. And that has certainly been the case with multiple trips to Trinidad, Dubai, California and Florida in the last month. Even so I was determined to finish the project with time to spare.

I finished the sculpting a few weeks ago. Even though the project is small in scale the details are just as numerous as on a large piece.

My plan from the start was to incorporate a smoke machine into the feature. I bought a machine but the trials demonstrated it produced far too much smoke, even on short blasts. It literally filled our large shop. With the short time left I decided to eliminate this feature as it would have been too much for the show.

So it was down to paint. As with all of our projects the first stage was to paint on the base colours in multiple coats, followed by a series of glazes. The only difference was that we used smaller brushes. It took about four days to paint the little piece.

As soon as the paint dried we packed it up and sent it on the way to Las Vegas. The International Sign Association EXPO is now only twelve days away. I look forward to seeing many old friends and meet a bunch of new ones as well!!

Friday, April 7, 2017

More honours

We are delighted to announce three honours in the 2017 Signs of the Times annual sign contest.

The Crown & Pin Pub signs for NEBs Fun World garnered a first place finish in the Sign Systems category. The signs also were honoured with Runner-Up for Best of Show.

The Merry Dragon sign we did for Coastal Enterprises display at the upcoming International Sign Association EXPO received first place in the 'Unusual Category'

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bug Whirled tree almost done

The Bug Whirled tree/sign is also coming along nicely. The mechanical ladybug (Like all of the others) holding up the banner is a combination of mediums. The body of the bug is sculpted concrete while the arms, hands, legs and feet is Abracadabra Sculpting Epoxy.

Once the bug was sculpted we moved on to the final base coats of paint followed by the glazes. The tree is quickly coming to life.

Bug sculpting done

It's been a busy last few weeks as we work hard on meeting promised delivery dates for the PNE Playland project. The mechanical bugs proved to be a lot of hand sculpting but the time we spent working on the fine details of the mechanics was well worth it. As soon as the sculpting crew was done the painting crew followed. We now have only a little painting left but already the bugs are looking spectacular! We can hardly wait to see them hoisted into position!

The dancing ladybug who will appear to twirl on the top of the globe as also coming along nicely. We finished the sculpting of the arms and legs today. As soon as the sculpting was complete the painting crew began the layering on of the paint and glazes.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

TEDx stage display

Last year about this time I was privileged to present my first TED talk. It was both challenging and fun! After it was over I heard that they were doing it again this year. We offered to make the stage presentation.

I visited the stage a few weeks ago to take a look at the area and to measure up the space we had to use. The event was to be held in a state of the art theatre which allowed for a twenty-four foot display.  The theatre was a black box which meant the walls, ceiling and floor were painted flat back. The TED organization had strict parameters for the display and the local committee provided the art vectors. I scouted the local building supply store to see what I had available to work with. Our budget was limited as this was a donation and would only be used for one day. I opted to route the letters from two inch thick styrofoam. I would mount them to some 3/4" thick good-one-side plywood which I would paint flat black to make it disappear.

The letters when enlarged to the right size fit onto two 4'x8' sheets of styrofoam. The MultiCam cut them out in a hurry and they turned out great! I painted a couple coats of red acrylic on the TEDx and and the Chilliwack letters white. While the letters were drying I built the plywood stands and painted them a couple of flat black acrylic.

Then it was a simple matter of using a tubed building adhesive to glue on the letters.

In a couple of days I'll deliver them to the auditorium and take a few more pictures of the setup. Stay tuned...