Friday, January 31, 2014

One last stroke...

The sign needed a final stroke on the outside of the as soon as it's warm enough
to get the poles in the ground, we'll get it hung into place!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nearing completion

I made good progress today, despite several visitors. 
The farm sign is very near complete, with some minor touch-ups and a few small things to
do.  While some things have changed, I think it's fairly close to the original design.
I had an absolute blast sculpting the tractor and even more fun getting to paint it.

One thing I'll do is that I'm going to put some clear resin in the areas
that represent the windows of the cab to give it that glassy shine.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Making tracs...tractors that is.

I managed to get some sculpting done yesterday on the McCauley farm sign...

Today I had a meeting with a client, and had some design work I needed to get done,
but in between those things I got some initial coats of paint on the sign.  I try to paint
from the back (lowest) to the front (highest).  With these initial coats on, I will go back
in and begin to use various glazes and dry brushing to bring the colors much closer
the the design, although I may change a thing or two in the process....sometimes
during paint, it becomes clear that a few subtle changes need to happen...

I try to make the initial coats fall in the "middle".....they will get deeper tones
and then highlights.  I alternate between going from dark to light and light to
dark depending on what I'm painting... I've also decided to carve a "plate" with
the established date for the bottom...I'll get that carved in the morning. It can
carve while I'm starting on the glaze work.  I also need to mix up some John Deere
green!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Larry Clore

When I arrived back in Peoria in 1997, one of the people I met during
my interviews with a company called Multi-Ad (eventually MultiAd) was
the CEO of the employee owned company. His name was Larry Clore.

During a very tense time at the company in the 80's ( believe me, there was more than one) he
was part of the team that took the company from being privately held into
being employee owned.  It probably saved the business and kept the jobs
in the local economy.

Larry came from the old school of management and ran a professional
and tight ship.  Over the next decade I would learn a great deal from him.
Larry asked tough questions, and generally avoided chit-chat.  Those of
us who worked directly under him learned that a subtle chuckle and
3 knocks on the desk  with his fist as he said "Alright then.." meant the meeting was
over. I would later learn that his often used "That's not me, that's how the Board of Directors
want it." was true, but the reality was that the Board primarily deferred all
issues to him. There were sometimes more than one meaning to his words.

He was certainly not perfect, and there were times we disagreed and even
times where my respect for him faltered.  He held most of his cards close to the
vest, and as I moved up the ladder in the company, I wasn't always happy to
find out what those cards looked like. 

Here's what I can say:  He genuinely wanted to see the company succeed.  He
was a formidable negotiator and knew when to walk away from a deal, even
if it seemed like a good one.  He was often far more understanding in personal
matters than many might believe, and I have never been quite as unsure how
to respond as for the very very rare instance I saw him cry.  He was a professional
in the best sense of the word.

Several years ago he endured his first round of Cancer and attacked it like
a business problem.  He did what he might have called his "due diligence" and
began a comprehensive and rigorous treatment plan.  He continued to work
as much as possible and his presence was felt even though he was out for
several weeks.

Leading the sale of MultiAd to a private equity firm was a tough decision, although
he felt it was important.  It became clear within a very short time that his style
of leadership was very different than the new owners.  He would step down
not long after.

I will always remember that Larry believed in my ability and eventually
hired me to run the IT division when he could have gone many other directions.
He taught me that sometimes a soft voice in a loud argument gets better results.
He showed me that respect is only earned, no matter hard somebody demands it,
and he proved that all of the parts of the company were better together than apart
and at our very best when we worked together.
I called him last fall and we talked about my new business and I told him that
he had been part of the reason I believed I could make it on my own.  I had learned
much about business sitting directly across the hall from him. For several
minutes we talked about life after MultiAd and whether or not the sale should
have happened.  We discussed some of the good times we'd both had and wondered
what might have happened with some different choices....but eventually I could hear
him give a slight chuckle and he said, "Alrighty then...pardner" and I knew that the
call was over.

Larry passed away last night, but is not forgotten.  I recently returned to MultiAd
to visit some old friends, and after several years his presence can still be felt in
the very fabric of the building.  Rest in Peace, Mr. Clore.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Good weekend.

The weekend here was pretty cold, but it didn't stop me from completing some things. Any
chance I get to spend some time in the shop on the weekend is a treat.  It' nice to have
built a job that I enjoy so much that I want to work outside of normal hours.

First, a favor for a friend, Scott Lindley, who asked if I could carve a design of his
for a client.  In this rare case, I won't complete the paint and have simply provided primer so
Scott can paint it however he wants.

With pvc, you can cut some pretty intricate details. In this case, I wanted to make sure they stay in place, so I used both epoxy resin and some brad nails to keep them in place. The nail holes were covered with just a little Magic Sculpt, then primed.

Next I got some work done on the McCauley Farm sign.  I carved some of the pieces and got it all primed. It has much more to be added, including the tractor, which will be semi-dimensional.

My process is to coat everything with 2-3 coats of primer, and then at least 3 coats of paint.  With some of the glaze work, it may get much higher than that, but it ensures that it will hold up outside for many years.   Now it's time to get out some more Magic Sculpt and get to work on the tractor.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friends Are Awesome

My good friend Grant McCauley helped clear out the area behind my shop.
We spent a few hours and he used his tractor and dump truck to help me
get things in order and looking much much better.

He and his family only moved into the new home they built a couple years
ago and it seems to me that it's high time to get them a family sign
for their farm...

We'll do it at about 4' x 4' and it will be attached to posts...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

You can MAKE it.

I'm currently working with a fantastic group out of Toronto on a sign.
The group is called MakerKids.  What is it?  MakerKids is a non-profit
makerspace for youth in Toronto. They offer hands-on after school programs,
open shops for kids, teens and adults, workshops, Minecraft programs
and birthday parties for adults and kids based on 3D printing, electronics,
woodworking, programming, sewing, crafting and making of all kinds!

This will be a little different as some of it will be interactive!
I'm working with Andy Forest on the design and he'll be helping
with some electronics and other cool doo-dads...

I want the sign to have a bit of a circuit board feel to it....

In order to figure out some things, I actually cut a sample of one of the "icons" representing
things you can do there at the shop....

Nothing is final at this stage, we're discussing concepts and how we'll proceed, but what a fun way to begin the year!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What do you use?

I have been asked by several people what software I use to create my projects...
and I want to talk a little bit about that. First, though, let me share this: The
folks at Vectric (they make Aspire, V-Carve Pro, Cut 3D, PhotoVCarve) have been
a tremendous resource as I've begun to grow.
They have just released a case study on my business:

Case Study

Anyone can tell you that there are a number of software packages out there for cnc. There certainly are!  I've tried many of them and some are good, some are great and some are superior.
I have some pretty specific needs, because I not only want to build files, but import 3D objects.  I use illustration tools for creating some of my vectors, and photo editing tools for manipulating photographs for textures....and I'm using Vectric Aspire to bring it all together and generate the files I send to my cnc machine.  I have so much control, and yet multiple ways I can achieve what I want to's simply fantastic.

Right now I'm off to call a potential client that lives somewhere much warmer than here, but more is soon to come. It's a new year and things are already getting exciting! Aloha!