Tuesday, January 31, 2012

version 2

Sometimes I have to let something sit for a day or so and then look at it with fresh eyes. This potential sign for "Changes Hair Studio" was no different.  Looking at it this morning, I decided to change several things. I moved the scissors so that they'll point toward the building. I also made the name and banner bigger, and generally reduced the overall "open space".  I think it flows better and is an improvement from the initial version.  Now we'll see what the owner thinks!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Quoting, sketching and dreaming...

My recent sign for "The Gerber's Daisy" has brought several new opportunities.  One is for a nearby Hair Studio. There is an existing pole and frame for the sign, which the owner would like to re-use.  It will be 2-sided and she'd like it to have some dimension.  She has an existing lettering style for her name, so I've worked that into the sketch.
One thing that's difficult to express in the sketches is the paint colors...because I like to use the metallic colors and glazes.  I try to give an approximation, knowing that the actual color will take it several levels beyond the sketch.
I won't go too much further until we can decided if I'm anywhere close to what she was hoping to see.  Changes and tweaks are likely and fine.  I wanted the scissors to be something special for this...not the run of the mill scissors you so often see on other salon signs.  This would be a blast to carve and sculpt!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Site update in progress...

This weekend I'm rolling out the updated version of my website, including the new name.
I have it posted now but will be tweaking it for a couple days...reducing file sizes and generally changing things that aren't working.  I own www.fantasticcreations.co and am working on obtaining the .com version.  The www.haffnersigns.com address will continue to work as well.  It's exciting!
I have added many of the projects I've showcased here, and I've built the new site to more easily update images as I add new projects.  Take a look! If you see any problems, I welcome your input.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The daisies are up!

Sometimes there are little bumps in the road...such as getting the completed sign for The Gerber's Daisy up.  I've learned that I need to keep much more Magic Sculpt on hand, and that sometimes a bucket truck is the only way to go.
This morning I attempted to put up the sign with a friend who offered to use a small bucket tractor with a cage, but we realized that the tractor was simply too wide to get onto the sidewalk.  Additionally, the sidewalk is high enough that the tractor couldn't ride up over the curbs several "steps".  By this afternoon a bucket truck was lined up and we were ready to go!
It was an easy job to reattach the bracket with the extension needed to get past some fascia on the building and I was quickly on my way to hanging the sign when I realized I'd managed to hang the bracket upside down.  It was an easy fix, and the bucket truck operator laughed as I told him I should get a "rookie sign guy" award.  Thankfully there were no other problems, and the sign was soon in place.
The owner wasn't in, but her employee quickly came out to look and take pictures.  Once I was down from the bucket, I took some pictures as well.  It was exciting to see this one go up and people on the sidewalk stopped to tell me how much they liked it.
The daisies are hand sculpted with Magic Sculpt on both sides,  and I've hung it in such a way as to keep it from slamming into the wall (a problem the previous sign had). I drove by to see how it looked from both directions, and I'm pleased.
Even with a cold, gray sky, I think it stands out. I can't wait to get some shots of it once we get a little sunshine...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mural mural on the wall...

The last mural for my daughter's "theme room" is the crest for Gryffindor.
We decided on a red wall as a background, and I used the projector to transfer the design
of the crest.  I layed down base coats (it takes a few to cover that red!) and started blocking in color.
Every painter seems to have a preferred way to build up paint, and I've been experimenting with many of them.  It's exciting to see what different results come from different techniques. 
I knew from the beginning that I'd be using some metallic colors to make this one "pop" and it took a few coats for the lion.  I saved the outline and "dark" color for last.  This allowed me to quickly paint the colors at first, saving detail work for the end. 
My daughter should be home in a little while and I think she'll be pleased.  Completing this wall means it's time to clean up the paint and tools and to finish cleaning so that we can move the furniture into the room and call it done.  I'm not sure we'll see her for a few days once it's complete.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Daisies in winter!

Yesterday I finished painting a sign for a local Florist & Boutique.  The owner, Kellie, has been a fantastic client!  She had an existing bracket for a sign, and we discussed some ideas and finally arrived at this design.  It was important that my sculpted daisies represent "Gerbera Daisies" as the name of the store is Gerber's Daisy (and it's her last name).  I picked 3 styles from what appear to be dozens of varieties and sculpted them in Magic Sculpt.  I had to bear in mind that the bracket was only designed to hold a certain amount of weight and the sign needed to be 2-sided.
The challenge with my current cnc machine is that for a project like this, the sign had to be sub-divided into 6 pieces (3 on each side) and joined once they were carved.  I spent a great deal of time doing my very best to hide the join lines and make it look like one large piece.  I dream of the day when I'll be able to do a sign like this as 2 pieces...or even 1!
Modern Master's metallic paints and Nova acrylic did a great job and I can't wait to hang it Thursday!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Working Within Constraints...

My daughter and I have been working on her room, and have had to work within certain parameters.
The local government (Mom) has set forth certain restrictions regarding the room. One is that it should easily be returned to something more "normal" with a little paint.  This means that I have to limit how much stuff I attach to the wall.
In the case of the "Tri-wizard" cup, I only carved the cup in HDU as a 2 1/2 D piece...and then used paint to create the illusion that it was in an alcove and that it was glowing.  All in all, I'm pleased. My daughter certainly is too!

I'll do some more touch-up paint work to the alcove and wrap it up pretty soon!

The pre-made 4-8 piece fits very well with the newly painted stone walls. Now I need to do some touch-up to the ceiling and baseboard trim, and then it's on to the last wall! Almost there....This photo is a bit blown out (I need to stop taking pictures as night!) but the stone is a little closer to the picture above...

Thursday, January 12, 2012


About once or twice a year (usually once) I get a cold.  It usually only lasts 1-2 days, but it's a doozy.  There's not much to be done but rest, drink lots of liquids and look forward to it being over.
Such was the case this week.  I went down fast.
I kept my sketch book close, and tried to do some work, but my head wasn't in it.
Instead I spent some time thinking about the last year and how much pure joy it's been to be working on the projects I've had the opportunity to work on, and how fun 2012 will be.
I also spent some time going through some photos on cd's that I haven't looked at in years.
It's great to look back and see what was happening 10-15 years ago.
I'd almost convinced myself that this whole attraction to making things at a large scale was a new thing and then I found this.

It's a massive, heavy "throne" I built more than 10-11 years ago for my annual Halloween party.  I had seen an image of a throne built for a Rob Zombie concert and thought it couldn't be too hard to build.  Most of it was made from trim pieces found at the local big box store, with additional items cut on my scroll saw and edges routed.  I used it for a year or two and eventually sold it to a girl who used it as furniture.  I told her, "I'll sell it, but I ain't moving it!"  I wonder what I'd have done then if I'd had a cnc machine?!

Among those old photos, I also found these:

I had a few 9" Star Trek figures (we'll agree not to call them dolls..ok?) and I thought it would be great fun to build a scale model of the bridge from the Starship Enterprise.  Using my new (back then) scroll saw I set to work.  I had some scale drawings from an old Star Trek book and the ability to get artwork printed on film...so much of the model was backlit.  The whole bridge (yeah, the whole thing) was about 6 feet in diameter and each pie slice shaped wedge could be removed.  I had visions back then of doing some stop motion animation. The panels were a booger to make. I dutifully carved each button into some hardened plaster and cast each button with a different color resin...and then a top coat to join them all.  This allowed each panel to be back-lit as well.  The whole thing hit a wall when I realized that I had no idea how to make one of these:

This is the chair seen all over the bridge in the old tv show.  Back then I didn't have a cnc machine, or know about magic sculpt....this chair would be such an easy thing to make a reproduce now...back then it literally stopped the project until I could figure out how to make them.

Sometimes it's nice to spend a little time looking back and realizing how different...and yet similar...things can be after all these years.  Now I'm feeling better and it's time to get back to a promising 2012! Stay warm and stay tuned!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

With a Flick of the Wand...

Yesterday was a good day-
I spent some of the morning working on the mural, and the afternoon working on my new sign.
Somewhere in there I also worked on the updated website.

Progress on the mural really started to happen...

Elena and I spent some time looking it over and she asked for a couple of things.
1: The books talk about the giant squid that lives in the lake. She asked if I could add something to let us know it's in there...
2. The Hogwarts logo.

Both requests were easy to make happen, and so today I wrapped up the first mini-mural in her room.  Just a couple more to do!I need to take a picture of this one in the light tomorrow..the flash has left a bright spot in the middle..but you'll get the idea!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Magic...a little each day.

Between projects, I try to sneak away for a little bit each day to work on my daughter's room.
She's very excited about getting it done, but knows it's a project that will take a little while as
I work it in.  Today I had a couple hours and made good progress...

Soon I'll have her join me as we paint the rocks, moss and grass that lead to the water's edge.
I know she's excited to help, and I'm looking forward to having her join me.  She stopped in
yesterday after school and explained that she'd like to have the Hogwarts School of Wizardry
logo in the lower right corner. I said I thought that was a great idea.  I inquired if she'd like me to paint in Harry Potter flying on his broom somewhere and she announced, "No, Dad. I don't want that. It wouldn't look right." Ok. The client has spoken.  Still a ways to go, but it's starting to look familiar.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Name Is The Game...

I had a sneaking suspicion back when I started my endeavor that "signs" wasn't going to encompass everything I'm doing.  I filled several pages with ideas for a name, but none seemed to stick.  Almost out of a desperation to get moving, I called it "Haffner Signs" and began my adventure.

Having had time to consider it, I am convinced that the name needs to be big enough to handle everything I want to do.  That's a tall order.  I procrastinated while trying to come up with something.  A visit from Dan Sawatzky last summer was the kick I needed. He said, "You know Haffner Signs isn't going to work don't you?" I said yes. He suggested that the drive to Wisconsin to paint murals with a group called the Walldogs would be a great time to come up with something. The right thing.  I agreed.

I brought my sketch book and started thinking. I needed a name that would tell the story of what I was doing...which is making these unique, fun, dimensional, and fantastic creations.  I wrote that down at the top of the page and then anything that popped into my mind below it.  The drive was long and I wrote down lots of ideas. Some were pretty good and others..well...let's just say that I entertained the name "Big Blue Carrot" and that should tell you enough.

I looked them over after a lunch stop in Sterling, Illinois and felt that none of them really hit it.  I looked at what I'd written at the top. My eyes stopped on the last two words...fantastic creations. In an instant I realized this was it.  Haffner's Fantastic Creations. Yup. Sounded right.

So now it's time to make the change.  The business cards are here. The website is in final countdown to launch and I need to get moving!

Let's build a sign!

I'll be using a much larger version of my "rocket" that I created last year, but the name itself needs to be made, and that's where we'll begin.  I've created a file with some outlines to give the lettering some depth and it's ready to carve!