Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Royal Flush

Some projects are fun because of the challenge.  This is definitely one of those!
While I was visiting Weston Brewery and working on the mural, Corey showed me an original sign that had been hanging on the wall for a long, long time.  Much of it was deteriorated, and the exact lines were pretty fuzzy in many locations.  He asked if it was possible to re-create the logo.  I took some photos and told him I'd give it a try.

I have several tweeks to do adjust the shapes to be more smooth...I followed the original as much as possible, but the vectored shapes need to be adjusted by eye to flow more smoothly, and I certainly can't claim I've interpreted each shape correctly, but I did what I thought was a decent job of recreating the piece.  Because this sign was hand-painted long ago, I also know that if he asks for me to paint a new one, I'll learn more about the shapes while I paint.  Sometimes the best way to figure out something like this is to recreate it like it was made originally.  I have no doubt that the shape and flow of a brush my enlighten me as to how some of the shapes were made originally.   I took some liberties with the lettering as well...

Here is a copy of the original from a photo, and my rebuild.

I'm a fan of keeping old designs like this alive for the future.  The original sign may not make it another 80 years, after all!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Helping One Another

I have a friend who has been a tremendous value to the Walldog group I belong to. His name is Scott Lindley, but we all call him Cornbread.  He works like crazy to help towns set up a Walldog event and does everything he can to make sure it all goes well.  He put on the event in Danville, Il. Arcola, Il.  and he has about 3 more lined up including the one next year in Kewanee (very close to me).  It's been a pleasure to get to know him.
He asked if I might be able to help him with a sign he sold in Arcola.  It's for a park. There are two identical signs.
Cornbread did the design and it's been my job to convert that to files that can be carved. I've done it in about 3 layers. It's about 4' x 5' and will be mounted between 2 posts.

I couldn't help myself...I added some small relief sculpting to the background trees.  I'll glue up the pieces tomorrow and get the second one assembled as well.  It's great to help out a friend and do something I enjoy at the same time....

Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween is coming!

I have a favorite artist when it comes to Halloween related art. His name is Chad Savage and he has a website called Sinister Visions.
He offers some free Halloween/Horror fonts he has created, and shows off some of the art pieces that have he's created over the last several years.  He gets lots of freelance work.

Anyway, he has some artwork I've really enjoyed.  Some of it appears to be a watercolor/paint mix. I'm absolutely awful with watercolor work, so seeing his work is inspiring.  I love the mix of bright color with earth tones and greys and shadow.

I thought it would be nice during the rainy days we've had here for the last week, to do some carving and painting.  Each Halloween I try to make at least one new decoration.  I picked an image from Chad that I like, and modified it and converted it to carve on the Shopbot.  I should point out that I don't sell things like's Chad's art, and I don't believe in using another person's art for monetary gain without their approval or consent.  This is for my house, and I've already shared it with him.  Chad has another (much smaller) piece I did from his art on his site under "Artistic Interpretation" which pretty well sums it up.  If this were a sample piece for my shop, I'd have created my own art.

Anyway, I recently picked up a fairly large amount of pink insulation foam so that I could really stretch my legs on the Shopbot and experiment at a large scale.  I put on a 4' x 3' piece and let it carve.  I'm still learning what I can do in terms of pushing the bot to the highest speed and still keep quality.  While foam is forgiving and can be cut quickly, there are nuances to figure out.

Once the piece was done (about 11 hours) I primed the foam and then began to paint.  If any of you cnc folks think that time amount is high, please give me a shout with suggestions.  The piece is 4' x 3' and about 1/2" in depth of carve maximum.  I used a 3/16" ballnose bit.

I used the airbrush to build up several layers of paint, and then finished with some hand painting.  Considering the scale of the piece, it went quickly.  I painted it up in about 2 hours, using some air flow to speed up drying of the acylics. For a 4' x 3' piece, I thought the time frame wasn't bad.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mural number 6

It's been a great year.  Last year I helped out on a couple murals and completed my first solo mural (with some helpers).  This year I've followed that with 5 more!  Yesterday I completed number 6. This was my first true solo mural, as I was the only one to do the painting. I completed it in about 16 hours.  The awesome folks over at Weston Brewing hired me to complete the mural for the annual Irish Festival which is going on right now (hopefully..the rain doesn't stop the irish does it?).

After a brief break to enjoy some of the products (Jeff introduced me to a stout/ipa mix that is my new favorite) it was time to wrap it up and take down the scaffold:

In many situations a bucket truck or scissor lift is nice to use- but there were SO many deliveries and trucks coming and going from the business, that scaffolding was really the only way.  It was a great rush to complete it in time for the festival.  It also may lead to some more work!  Another local business stopped by and has asked to discuss some work for them as well.  Looks like I'll be visiting Weston again in the future. I look forward to it.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Home again home again....

I returned from my trip to the KC area just a couple of days ago.  I had a chance to enjoy the amazing craft beers at Weston Brewery, see an old friend (several, really!), and visit with a fellow sign maker.

The trip to Weston was fantastic.  I met with the owners (Corey and Mike) and talked about various projects that I can help bring to life.  Many are top secret, but the first is pretty fun. Customers sometimes need a helping hand in locating the business.  We discussed a mural assist...this is a mock-up of what it might look like.  If it gets approved by the city, this may begin in a few short days.  This is the end of the building that is the B&B across from the pub. 

I'm also talking with them about several other projects that would be great fun to design and create.  I look forward to sharing those in the future.  It was great to see Corey and his wife Andee again, and we talked about the old days and our time at KTVO Channel 3 in Kirksville, Mo.

The next evening was also special, as I had a chance to speak with another old friend from Kirksville.  Terry Blodget owned a t-shirt and sign shop there back in the 90's.  I spent a couple years working there part time while in college.  I helped out with the shirts and did some design work.  I also got to help with an early vinyl cutter...a big deal back in the late 80's and early 90's.  I had a lot of fun and always enjoyed my time with Terry.  When I began to think about what to do after my time at MultiAd, I thought quite a bit about those days.  Terry is in Kansas City, now, and it was great to catch up after all these years.

The last stop was in Godfrey, Illinois.  A fellow sign guy named Steve Luck has a fun shop there and keeps very busy.  He bought a cnc shopbot quite awhile ago, but had run into problems. He couldn't get it to carve and he was becoming discouraged.  I stayed over night and was able to work out the issues and within a very short time in the morning we had the machine carving up a storm.  I made Steve go through the process and had him design something, then send it to the machine to carve. I wanted to leave knowing he could begin from scratch and get his projects carved.  Once you understand the's really all about the design work on the computer.  His eyes lit up like it was Christmas.  He watched the machine do it's work and smiled from ear to ear.  He felt like he needed to do some practice and asked if I could take care of a project he'd had sitting for a long time.  He sent me home with some HDU, but I decided it would be great for him to watch it come alive.  I set up the file and saved it for him.  I emailed it and told him it was ready to carve....this morning he sent me this:

I know firsthand how exciting it is to see the design come to life on the machine.  I still experience it every time I make something. It was great to see that same look on his face, and to know that he will now go on to make his own magic.  I look forward to seeing what he does with it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Just about done....
Now it's time to get ready for tomorrow's know...sometimes a little road trip is just the ticket. Just ask my CIO.

Something Brewing

I have been working on a couple websites the last few weeks.  I enjoy the work, and the opportunity to do them has been appreciated, but I'll tell you a secret...I like to get my hands dirty.
When a local friend asked about doing a new sign for his business, I jumped at the chance.  I looked at the old sign and we talked about what he'd like to see from the new one.
We both agreed that re-painting the old one was a good idea. He'll put it in the shop, or find some other place to put it. Why throw away history?  It's not in horrible shape and with a little cleaning and some good paint, this will be a historical piece that will remind them of where they've been as well as where they are going.  It didn't take long for me to remove the posts and haul the old one to the shop.  I scrubbed and cleaned and now it has a fresh coat of primer on it. 

As my pal Dan once told me, "You never know where a sample piece will lead".  My recent "Steam Punk Ale" sign has me heading toward Kansas City in the morning.  An old friend is part owner in a brewery, pub, restaurant and bed and breakfast in Weston, Missouri. I'd sent him a photo of the sample and he suggested I come over to discuss some work.  The brewery is going strong and they offer 5 beers as well as some seasonal beers.  How could I refuse?  I visited there with my friend, Kyle, several years ago before the brewery was doing any bottling. It was a great adventure.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he's done with it.

I don't want to go empty handed, and I've put together a couple sketches of some ideas already, but I thought a little gift for the opportunity and my friend was in order.  This is just the base coat and one glaze, but before I leave it'll get a couple more glazes and the lettering work.  It's 14" x 14".