Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Time to shine a light on my secret

From the beginning of the fish challenge, well..technically before the challenge...I had an idea.  The creation of uv invisible blacklight paint has intrigued me.  I saw some amazing work from an artist named Tang Dong Bai who works in airbrush and has moved to Pontiac, Illinois.

The paint is almost invisible in regular daylight...in fact several colors are completely invisible...until you turn on a blacklight. In the following picture, these dresses are totally white under regular light.

As soon as I saw them, I thought it would be amazing to include them in some way into signs.  The paint isn't really usable outdoors yet, but eventually!  In the meantime how could I use them on a sample?  I thought about how amazing those deep sea fish look...and then remembered a steampunk sign I'd seen of Jamie Oxenham's.  The challenge formulated in my mind immediately.  The paint would be my ace in the hole.

Unfortunately, the blacklight LED strip will not arrive until late August.  I decided that it was time to share the plan...it has been too hard to hold it in.

Once the strip arrives, I'll add it to the 'tank'.  Goodness, I'll have trouble counting how many LEDs will be in this sample!  It'll be lit two ways..one for regular viewing, and one for in the dark of the tank.

The paints arrived just a couple days ago. They are called "Wildfire" blacklight UV paint..and are actually a spin-off of Modern Masters.

They are pretty cool.  They look a little like elmer's glue until they dry....then they are barely visible.
Some are totally invisible.   The work is going to be playing with them in paint. You can mix them with water based acrylics and get totally different colors.

In the following photo, the tail and eye haven't quite dried..so you can see some white. I decided to paint on the "back side" that is not as visible as the other side. It's a test, and I can always uv clear over it and try again....

But what does it look like under blacklight?

I clearly need some experience painting with the colors..but this is going to be fun.  Not just fun for this fish challenge, but pure fun. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A little bit each day and a lot.

This weekend has been a great deal of fun.  I had to "cowboy up" and start carving the Rhino 2-sided sign. I finished the one for the wall a while ago and now it was time to ensure all the measurements were correct and go for it.  My mild fear came from the fact that a 2" sheet of 30lb. HDU is really expensive.  Any screw up would be very very expensive for me.  I'd test cut some pvc, and even a full version in pink foam. It simply was time to get going and prove I'd done all the homework properly.

I put the first piece on and started it up:

Things went well.  In order to get to the correct shape, there were many toolpaths and several bit changes.  It took many hours to get them both completed, but the result was worth it:

Now here's the thing.  The carves are two sided for both pieces.  The client brought a 1/4" piece of steel that had been pre-cut to fit in the center. There are tabs that will be connected to chains which will hold the sign in it's diamond shape.  It's a pretty cool piece, but I'll be honest...the holes weren't 100% in terms of being equally spaced. Not a big deal, but it added a bit of adjustment on the cut files.  A pocket was cut on the back of each piece, and a space for the tabs.

In the end- they came out great and fit with the steel like a glove.

It will be pretty heavy when completed!  I wouldn't want to be the kid who decides to give it a kick, I'll tell you that!
Now it's on to primer and paint...and I love that part the most!

Additionally, while all this carving was going on- I began some paint work on the fish for my mechanical fish institute sample...a little bit each day will get it done!

Monday, July 22, 2013

here subby sub sub

One more quick post this evening.....I had a chance to put the dangly light on the fish. It still needs the "cage" around the light, but we're in good shape so far.  Soon there will be paint and nasty nasty submarine tearing teeth.

It's just about time for some of that paint.  It's almost time to share another bit of the surprise that I've kept in the dark....soon...very soon.

Eye Like You

I didn't have a great deal of time to put on the mechanical fish this weekend, but I did get some work completed. I managed to get some sculpting completed, and after a bit of a hunt for a power supply, I was able to get my eye lights and little green light working.
I must admit to being challenged in the area of custom wiring...and need to talk my buddy Mark Smart into a weekend or couple of days dipping my head into resistors, milli-amps and voltage.

Here is the currently toothless beast with no lights...

Here he is with lights:

I have not yet attached the portion of his "dangling bait" light....

I've also been at work cutting the final portions of the two sided Rhino sign and making sure all will fit well with those...I should have pictures very soon! In addition- the client brought some pieces already cut in wood by another person..and I just couldn't discard them. They'll look great inside his building somewhere..they just needed some paint love:

In the meantime, I don't want to scare anyone- but let me share this:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back In The Groove

Over the next few days, I'm carving some additional Rhino pieces, carving some Rock Island Trail signs and some football helmet signs for the local stadium...whew!

I cleaned the shop today and my helper, Shannon Ingles, got some more paint moving.
The Mechanical Fish is moving quickly, now that I'm back:

The gold is just the first color to be applied to the port hole....the bottom section has some sweet rust on all the rivets.  Many more layers of color will be added to the top.
I also picked up some special LEDs for the eyes of the fish and his "bait" light.
Check back soon!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Effort Pays Off...

I got an email this morning from one of the town organizers for the Walldog event that occured last week.  Sometimes, when you try to make a difference, it's hard to know if your efforts were appreciated, or even worth the effort.  I believe that even without a pat on the back, or public recognition- you have to find your own sense of accomplishment and pride in your efforts.  I must admit, though, that a note like this makes me smile.  I'd like to share most of it here:

Dear Walldog Friends,

Right now, Kewanee is going through “Walldogs Withdrawal”.  The community was so sad to see you leave but are so grateful that you were here for a brief bit of time.  I had to even console a few hosts who were in tears after their artist left town.  What you left behind in this community was nothing short of magical.  Your murals are so wonderful and beautiful and they have transformed our downtown.  It is so very hard to pick a favorite and one resident mentioned that his favorite mural “depended on which one he was standing in front of at a given time”.  They are all so unique and so detailed.

Most importantly, you all gave Kewanee a sense of pride and an appreciation for our history.  Like many towns in the Midwest, industry began to leave Kewanee in the 1970s and 1980s and our population declined from 18,000 in its heyday in the 1950s to today’s 13,000.  Your murals have given us a newfound hope for the future and a recognition that we really do love this community and want to make it grow and succeed.  We have been on an upward trajectory lately but you have pushed us way up that curve!

Everyone has commented how much they enjoyed you as a group and as individuals.  As I mentioned at the “Walldogs Birthday Bash” on Saturday evening, there were times that I felt like I was not going to get the residents to understand what this meant for our community and the naysayers seemed louder than the supporters, but everything went 10,000 times better than I expected and you absolutely enthralled the community and our visitors.  To us, in Kewanee, you are ROCK STARS!!!!  And…please don’t ever think you are not!

A lot of reminiscing took place over your four day visit, inspired by your creative murals:
·         The family of the gentleman depicted in the “Cornhusker” mural came to town and were in awe of the mural.  In fact, the gentleman’s great granddaughter led tours of the murals on Sunday.
·         The lady who was the original “Sandy’s Girl” and who was the model for the company logo stopped by to see her likeness at the “Sandy’s” mural.  She was so tickled that the company was honored in this fashion.
·         Ronelle Spiegel, one of our wall sponsors, stopped by the “Woodland Palace” mural and mentioned that she could not stay away from the downtown.  Her grandmother had been Fred Francis’ housekeeper in the early 1900s.
·         The Lay Family, also wall sponsors, toured the murals and were blown away.  The Lay Family owned the building where the Great Kewanee Fire started and also were the original founders of the Boss Manufacturing Co. depicted on the “Cornhusker” mural.
·         Larry Cole, the son of one of the original “wing walkers” from the Cole Family Air Show had the honor of actually painting on the mural where his father, Marion, was depicted.

Everyone in Kewanee wants to capture the excitement and atmosphere that you created and replicate it again.  We are beginning to plan events surrounding the murals and we’ve already had a couple of businesses mention that they would like to sponsor one or two murals again next year (some of you might need to get the paint brushes out!). 

I cannot tell you what this has done for Kewanee –the vibe is electric around here now.  Please know that all of you are welcome back to the Kewanee anytime and we expect visits!

By the way, a big THANK YOU to Cornbread for his guidance and humor throughout the past 2 ½ years.  Thanks for talking us down from the ledge on numerous times when we felt like we could not do this or that we were not organized enough.  Sorry for being a grump sometimes!

On behalf of Dianne and Dennie Packee, the entire Walldogs Host Committee Team, the hundreds of volunteers that helped us, and the 13,000 residents of Kewanee,  I want to make sure you all know that you have open invitations to come back to Kewanee anytime!!  You are all true “Community Developers”!


Russell Medley
Executive Director
Kewanee Economic Development Corporation

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Something Fishy Going On

My order of Magic Sculpt arrived while I was at the Walldog event.  I had to spend some time unloading and organizing things, but I couldn't go to bed until I'd worked a bit on the fish. 

I also started putting together the length of material that will hold the hanging light:

I like using some found parts when it's appropriate.  In this case, the pieces are left overs from something I needed for the R2D2 I made. I keeps bits and pieces like this just for situations like this. I'll be able to add light easily.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

WallDoug At It Again

Only a few short years ago, I began attending an annual event as a member of a group called "The Walldogs". This year, over 200 artists and painters came together in Kewanee, Illinois to bring life to 15 murals. 
My friend Scott Lindley represented us well and helped the amazing town of Kewanee to participate in more than a little magic.  I had the amazing fortune to be asked to participate as a project leader. 
It was the 20th anniversary of "The Walldogs" and Kewanee helped us celebrate in style.

A massive cake was served, and fantastic food to go with it!

My team included a long list of walldogs and an even longer list of locals who came out to participate and put paint on the wall.  They all did great.

We had a great deal of fun and made many memories.  Many people couldn't help but share with us their own memories and important life moments that took place at Sandy's.  From a first job for a teenager, to a hamburger and shake date that turned into a 40 year marriage, they were all special and made us smile even more.  Now it's time to get back to my shop and jump into more signs for my client Jim Martin at Rhino and working on the mechanical fish that will give Dan a "what for".  I'm a very lucky man.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Here fishy fishy fish...

Just to get things started, I decided to put some paint inside the tank to see how it was going to look. I have much to do in there, but I couldn't resist seeing how my carefully painted rays of light that run diagonally across the waves would look with the LEDs.  I think it's looking good. 

Next, I put some of my sketches into parts.  These sliced sections will make up a portion of the body of the creature, with much sculpting to come.

Once I had these initial parts, I decided that I wanted him to be wider, with a much larger mouth.  By adding a strip down the middle, I could get exactly what I wanted.

Much more to do! Now, though, it's time to pack up to prepare for the Walldog event in Kewanee, Il. I'll be painting a mural about Sandy's...a hamburger and shake franchise that eventually merged with Hardees.
Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lights! Camera! Action!...wait...where's the fish?

Today I added some of the lighting.  I've used an LED strip which will light the creature inside.
I also built the additional center pieces that will build up the piece to allow space for the fish between the window and back...

To make the best use of materials, I cut the center pieces in quarters...so two sets of four (different diameters) was just the ticket.  My friend Dan put 38 lights plus a green one on his project. It looks very nice indeed.  I, however, am from America.  We have 50 states so it only seemed appropriate to have at least 50 lights.  I'm sure 39 lights was a lot to put in Dan's sign, so I completely understand his smaller total.  The extra dimension in my sign allows for just a few more.

If you haven't figured it out, we're all having a great time with our "challenge" (Jamie says he's on top secret work for the government of Canada and will have something soon.).  The jibes and teasing is all in good fun.  I have little doubt that the other competitors will all place in the top 12. I think we have 8 or 9 participating...including Jamie.

Next is a fish tale or is it tail? Stay tuned.

A Window into Changes.

Looking at my mechanical fish piece, I felt like the window was pretty "thick". I had wanted to dish the inside of the piece first, and simply overlooked it.  Once the piece was carved, it was clear I'd missed it. I mentioned it to Dan, and he said, "Make a jig and go ahead and cut the dish on the back, you'll be glad you did". It was the push I needed to take the risk.  It could have damaged the piece and set me back almost as far as Jamie on the project.
Here's what it looked like before:

You can see that the middle part of the window is amost 2" deep.  Here it is after the dish carve on the back:

The reason it's an important but subtle change is that much more of the creature behind the window will be visible from a wider range of viewing.  It was the right move, and the little push from my competitor was appreciated.

I also carved the piece that will act as the background behind the mechanical fish:

When it finished carving, I realized it just needed a touch more work.  I decided to add just a few more dips and curves.  I could have used a hand held grinder, but I wanted it to be subtle and avoid sanding.  I turned to some hand chisels...and within 3 or 4 minutes I got the look I was trying to get to.

The next step will be to create some "risers" to bring the window about 6-8 more inches above this background. I'll use HDU to build it up.  Stay tuned!