Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Second Video - Glass Etching

Hey gang, I have finally gotten around to uploading another video to my YouTube channel! I have two or three more already in production, but editing takes a long time, so it has taken me a while to get another one up there.

By the time you read this, the video will have been published several weeks ago. I already had several blog posts scheduled and I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the Book of Shadows Sign posts. The cool thing is, by the time I had even finished editing some of the YouTube extras, like the end screen links to other videos, I already had 3 views and a comment! Pretty neat.

Ok, So here is the second video. As I stated before, for the foreseeable future, anytime I publish a video to my YouTube channel, I will also publish it as a blog post here. If you would like to help me grow my YouTube channel, please, Like, Comment and Subscribe. Oh, and share ;)

This video is a demonstration of using Armour Etch glass etching paste to etch a design onto a glass goblet.I have posted about my etched glass projects here before. This project is nothing new to this blog. But here is an opportunity to see the process as it is being done in my workshop.

I am still very new to video making, so if you have any comments or suggestions about the video itself, my editing, technique, direction, composition, whatever, feel free to comment. I am still working through finding the right software for my needs. I don't have a good camera, so I am using my cell phone and an app called Open Camera, which seems to work better than my camera's native app. I had been using Windows Movie Maker, and that had some nice features, but it was very limiting. I really like HitFilm 4. It has some crazy good features and FX, but it makes my computer groan just loading it. This time I tried a new editor called Shotcut. I think it might become my go-to editor. It isn't as fancy as HitFilm, but it is closer to that style of editor than WMM is, and it will run on my computer. Well enough, anyway.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 3)

Having finished the main sign, I started working on the accent pieces. Because the new sign is only half the width of the old sign, I knew I needed something else to take up the extra room on the marquee, or the sign would look too small for the space. In keeping with the Victorian Gothic theme, I decided to try to make something that looks like filigree, or fretwork, to flank the sign on either side and take up some of that empty space.

The first thing I needed to do was to determine the size of the fretwork, how much space I had to work with, and how big I wanted the fretwork to be. Also, how big of a piece of material I had to work with. After roughing out how big I wanted it, and roughly what shape I wanted it, I looked around on line for some line art, but I didn't really find anything that fit the bill. I'm not great at drawing, but when pressed, I usually come up with something passable. So, I got a piece of butcher paper roughly the size of what I needed and taped it to the wall. Then I just started doodling on the edge until I had a design that I was happy with.

Once I had a rough design, I started sketching it out at 1:1 scale on the butcher paper. I made marks to block out where the outer edges should be, and I marked a mid-line, and a few other reference  points to try to keep things symmetrical. It took a few tries. There was some erasing, but I ended up with something I thought would suit my needs.

 I only really had to focus on half of it. Once I got that half worked out, it would be easier to just fold the paper at the mid-line (the line of symmetry) and then cut out both sides at once. This ensures that both sides are perfectly symmetrical.

 I laid the paper template out on a table next to the sign to see how it would look in position.

 The dimensions for this fretwork element were partly based on the piece of particle board I had set aside to use for it. It was a scrap that had been laying around my dad's shop for years. In hindsight, I think I should have used a better quality piece of wood for this, but it worked out.

I laid the paper template out on the particle board and lightly spray painted over the edges, leaving a ghost outline on the wood. This would be my cut line. This trick is a lot quicker and easier than trying to trace around the paper template with a pencil.

I made two ghost outlines of the template, one for each side of the sign, and then started cutting them out with a jig saw. Then I painted them both with at least two coats of black exterior paint. I'm hoping that I got them sealed well enough, because if the weather gets through to the wood, these things are just going to disintegrate.

From an early stage I knew I wanted to tie these into the trim on the main sign by cladding them with copper. At first I thought of using the same copper foil, but that would have ended up in a wrinkly patchwork mess. Around the same time I got that foil, I also got a roll of copper sheeting. It was also on sale, but it was still expensive. I think it was something like $90 for a ten foot roll. It's probably somewhere in the vicinity of 24 gauge thickness. Expensive. But it would do a nice job of cladding these pieces. The only problem was, I had never tried anything like this before, and if it didn't work, I would have basically ruined $100 worth of copper sheeting. And I only had enough to do it once.

Oh, there was one more issue. I thought my roll was 24" wide, but I hadn't looked at it in a while. Turns out it was only about 20" wide.  Not quite as wide as the parts that I made. So, I would have to do the cladding in two pieces. I was hoping to avoid a seam, but I would just have to do my best to make it unobtrusive.

I laid the fretwork piece out on the copper and traced around it with a marker. Then I used some emery cloth to rough up the surface of the copper inside the lines, so that it would adhere better to the wooden piece. I spent some time thinking about what kind of adhesive I would use, ruminating on the lessons learned from putting the foil trim around the main sign. I decided on construction adhesive.

I spread the construction adhesive out  on the copper, inside my tracing lines, making sure to get good coverage, especially around the edges. For some reason I had a bad feeling about it as soon as I started. I had used Liquid Nail brand adhesive before with good results, but I went with the Heavy Duty variety this time, and it looked different from what I was used to seeing. I don't know why I doubted it, but I had a funny feeling it wasn't going to work.

I set the fretwork piece in place and put it under weight to dry.

It should have dried within a couple of hours, but by the next day, it still wasn't completely dry. I left it set for a couple more days, just to give it the best possible chance to cure, but when I came back to check on it, it was clear that it was separating at the edge in some places. When I picked at it, it pealed away easily. It had not adhered to the copper. It looked to me like the water in the glue had corroded the copper as it was drying, and that may have inhibited the adhesion.

Thinking I may have ruined my copper sheeting, I carefully pried the copper away from the wood piece, trying hard not to damage it too much.  Luckily it came off without destroying either the copper sheeting or the fretwork. I would at least get another shot at it. It did, however, take a LOT of scraping and sanding to remove all of the glue from both the copper and the wood.

I looked at several other adhesives, careful to read the labels of each, and was surprised that several mentioned copper specifically as not recommended for. There must be something about copper that reacts with the glue and prevents adhesion. Apparently this is a thing, and I didn't know about it. Still thinking that construction adhesive was the way to go, I looked for another brand, that didn't mention copper in the "not recommended for" fine print. I finally settled on Gorilla Glue construction adhesive. It was more expensive by a good margin, but I already had over $100 into just these fret pieces. Not to mention the rest of the sign. . 

Fortunately, the Gorilla Glue worked, at least well enough. Now, onto the hard part, routing around the edges.

I had never really used a router before. My dad never taught them to me, other than to say to be leery of them.  I think they scared him. He hardly ever used them, and he seemed overly cautious of them. As a result, I had no experience with them, and he had instilled a little bit of his aversion for them into me. But a router is what the situation called for, so a router is what I used.
 I managed to find a trim router and a flush trim bit amongst my father's tools and set about to remove the excess copper sheeting from around the fretwork. The flush trim bit has a bearing on the tip that rides along the edge of the work piece, so that you can not cut into the work piece by mistake. The bearing rides along the work piece and lets the cutter get right up to the edge without hitting it. It is used primarily for trimming laminate after it is glued to a counter top or other substrate. I was using it in exactly the same way, just that my laminate material was copper sheeting, not formica.

I had to drill pierce holes in some places in order to rout out the interior curves. One thing that I was not prepared for was how painful it would be having the tiny shards of copper flying at me (especially at my off-hand) at very high speeds. 

This process made a huge mess, and didn't leave much usable scraps, but when it was done, it ended up looking pretty much like I had hoped that it would. Even the small seam at the tip didn't look that bad. I had to do a little work with a file to get down into all the little corners because the router bit is round and can't make a radius of less than 1/4 inch. Also, all the the edges needed to be smoothed out with a file. The router left them pretty rough.

I had to touch up a few spots around the edges where the router cut into the paint. Then I gave each of the two pieces several coats of spar urethane on all sides.

I'm actually quite pleased with the way they turned out. I'm still debating about how I'm going to mount them to the marquee. But we can cover that in another post.

See Also:
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 1)
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 2)
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 4)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 2)

Continuing with the new sign for Book of Shadows project; we left off having added the copper foil trim to the background board...

Now, having the letters painted and the background board painted and trimmed (and a coat of spar urethane), I was finally able to lay out the letters on the background board and see how it all looked.

 Once I was happy with the positioning of the letters, I glued each one down with some waterproof wood glue, and I also tacked them down with crown staples using my air nailer. To make sure I kept the positioning correct, I first traced around each letter with a pencil to make sure I could get it positioned right back where it was after applying the glue to the back.
I touched up the staple heads with some more black paint, and then I applied several coats of spar urethane to the whole board, letters and all. I made sure to get heavy coverage where the letters met the background board, to try to seal the seam as best as I could. I don't want water getting behind the letters and rotting out the wood.

SON of a BITCH! Looking at these photos, I just realized something. The 'A' in Shadows, is backwards. Son. of. a. Bitch! Well, there's nothing that can be done about it now. That sucker is glued down tight. Trying to pry it up would likely destroy the entire sign. At least the letter is so stylized that it is hard to notice. Anyway, that's what I'll keep telling myself for the next ten years while I'm looking at this thing- and only seeing the stupid backwards 'A'.    ...son-of-a-bitch.
 I need a minute....

OK- Moving on.  While I was busy not noticing the backwards letter, my eye kept being drawn to the negative space in the upper right corner of the sign. At first I liked it that way, but later I started thinking it needed something to balance it out. Since it was our 20th anniversary, I had been toying with the idea of incorporating something to commemorate the store's longevity somewhere on the building. I decided to try to make one of those plaques that say the year the business was established. I sized it to fit into the empty space in the upper right corner of the sign.

 I made the plaque out of scraps of plywood. The design was off the cuff, but it came together well. For the lettering, I printed out at 1:1 scale on the computer and spray glued the printout right to a piece of plywood. Then I cut the letters out on the band saw.  I used a piece of masking tape as a temporary "zero clearance" plate. A zero clearance plate makes the gap between the blade and the table very very small. This is especially helpful when cutting thin delicate pieces that could get caught and pulled down into the gap otherwise.

The lettering was glued down, and the paper was peeled off of them. Trim pieces were added around the perimeter of the plaque.

I set the plaque in place and played with the positioning to see if I was going to like it there.  I still wasn't sure about it, but I figured I would finish the plaque and think about it some more. I could always hang the plaque somewhere else if I decided I didn't like it on the sign.

After the lettering and trim was glued in place, the whole plaque got a primer coat of black exterior paint. 

The background was painted red, to tie in with the lettering on the rest of the sign. The lettering on the plaque and the trim were painted gold with metal leaf paint (hoping that it works out better than it did last time). I did my best to simulate the look of brass. I also added some small accent pieces to the sides, to give it more flair.

I pondered the inclusion and positioning of the plaque for a few more days, then finally I decided that I would go ahead and glue it down. 

 That's the main part of the sign. I could hang it just like it is, and it would be great. It would certainly be better than what is up there now. But I'm not quite done yet. Tune in next time, and we will get started on the accent pieces that will flank the main sign on either side.

See Also:
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 1)
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 3)
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 4)


Friday, May 12, 2017

Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 1)

This project has been a long time coming. I started work on it about a year ago, and I intended to publish a post about it when the project was finished, but now I'm thinking that because it is a big project with multiple parts, and also because there is some concern whether or not it will ever get installed, maybe I should piece it out into a couple of posts, and start publishing them now.

My store, Book of Shadows in Canton Ohio, had its 20 year anniversary in 2016. It should have been a time of celebration and there should have been a big expansion and much ado, but because of personal stuff, it kind of came and went with barely a mention. One of the things that I had planned to do for the anniversary, was to make a new marquee sign to put on the facade, a really nice one. Since this location opened, it has had two marquee signs, both made by myself. Last spring we had a big storm and it damaged the current sign. The wood was starting to rot pretty badly due to weather exposure, and about a fifth of it got ripped down by the wind.

The building is about 20 feet wide, and the marquee is about six or so feet tall. Both of the previous signs were made from two full 4'x8' sheets of plywood (or paneling). The new sign will be a little smaller. It will be made from a single 4'x8' sheet of plywood that is centered, and flanking it will be two decorative scroll-work pieces and two large wall mounted carriage lantern style sconces.

The current aesthetic theme of the shop is sort of a Victorian parlor, with a few goth and steampunk touches. The color pallet is dark red and black, with a lot of brass and stained woodwork. The new sign is going to be raised black lettering, with red edges, on a sandalwood/beige background, with copper trim. The decorative scroll-work pieces flanking the sign will be black edged and clad in copper, and the sconces are brass.

Step number one in a project like this, after determining your scale and design, is to work up a scale image of your lettering, printed out on a grid, so it can be transferred to the full scale material. I chose a font and made a scale vector drawing of the full size sign, and scaled the lettering to fit on the sign the way I wanted it. Then I superimposed a grid over the image at what would represent 6 inch squares at full size, and printed it out for reference.

Next I drew a grid on my sheet of plywood, with six inch squares, using a straight edge. These are going to be raised letters, so they are going to get cut out of the plywood, and placed onto another background board. The grid is a common method of scaling images to be transferred. Using a grid makes it easier to free-hand the lettering, because you only have to concentrate on one square at a time, and it gives you reference lines to keep you on track. Just make sure that where an image's outline crosses a grid square line at a certain place on the paper, the same outline crosses in the same spot on the same square on the scaled up version you are drawing, and everything should turn out looking pretty close to the original. Using this method helps to make up for my lack of natural artistic ability.

Where there were letters of the same size that matched (like the two O's in BOOK), I only had to draw one of them with the grid. For the second one, I could just trace the first one after it was cut out. This cuts down on my chances for error, lessens a very tedious and stressful part of the job, and helps make similar letters look more alike.

After the letters were drawn on the plywood, I cut each of them out with a jig saw and/or the band saw. Then I traced any that needed repeated, and cut those out as well. The letters were of a scrolly gothic font, so cutting them out was a bit of a challenge.

Once all the pieces were cut out, I gave each of them a primer coat of exterior grade latex house paint (white). I hung each letter on a peg board in my father's workshop while the paint was drying. After the primer coat was dry, I used red spray paint to color the edges.

The faces of each letter were painted with black exterior grade house paint. Then, each was given a couple of coats of spar urethane to weather seal it. I'm making an effort to seal this sign against the weather as much as I can, in the hopes that it will not rot out the way the current one did. Though to be fair, that one did last for quite a few years.

While the letters were still loose, I traced them onto some chip board, just in case I needed to recreate them at the same scale for any reason. I wouldn't have to draw them over again. I will keep these sheets of chipboard for reference for a few years. If it turns out I don't need them for anything, I can always reuse the chipboard for something else.

While I was working on the letters I was also preparing the background board. I rounded the corners of another sheet of plywood and gave it several coats of a sandalwood/beige colored house paint. The back side that will be up against the wall got several coats of an odd maroon color, just to use up some old paint that would otherwise have no use, and because it will never be seen.

In an effort to spice things up and as a tie-in to the steampunk style, I wanted to add some real copper trim to the background board. I have tried metal leaf paint in the past, and it did not hold up to the weather, and it is very hard to capture the look of metal with acrylic paints. I have a roll of copper foil that I got on sale at the hardware a while back. It is meant to be used as a termite barrier, and it has an adhesive backing on it. But my past experience has taught me that the adhesive is unreliable, so I will have to strip it off and use another kind of adhesive to attach the foil to the background board.

Peeling the vinyl backing paper off of the copper foil was a nightmare. In small sections it is not so bad, but trying to pull it off of several feet at a time, sucked. I had to clamp the foil to the table, and pull the backing paper off while gripping it with pliers. The adhesive sticks to the backing paper quite strongly. It's a shame that it looses its grip over time when stuck to anything else.

I used Goo Gone and a putty knife to help loosen the adhesive while peeling the baking off. That helped. Then I had to use the Goo Gone to take off the rest of the adhesive from the back of the foil.

Once the foil was free from its backing and adhesive, I cut it into strips to be wrapped around the edge of the background board. In order to wrap around the rounded corners of the background board, I had to cut darts into the foil. 

The adhesive that I used to apply it to the background board needed to be flexible, very strong and waterproof. At first I tried caulking, but I had a hard time getting it to stay in place. It didn't have enough initial tack. I also thought it might peel from the non-porous surface of the copper foil after it was dry. So, I got a couple of tubes of E-6000. I have had good results with it in the past and it fits all my requirements. 

In order to keep the foil pressed tightly to the background board while the glue was drying, I used furring strips and many many spring clamps. I worked in sections, maybe four feet or so at a time. I tried to be mindful of how the joints overlapped. I treated it like metal flashing, always pointing the seam downward, to allow water to run off and not work its way into the seam or under the foil. I also made sure the edges of the plywood had several coats of spar urethane applied before the foil went on.

That will do it for part 1. More to come on this project. Stay tuned.

See Also:
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 2)
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 3)
Book of Shadows Signage v3.0 (part 4)