Friday, November 8, 2013

Building Signage for the Fundemonium Toy and Hobby Store

A while back I was contacted by one of the owners of the local hobby store about helping out with their project to re-brand the store.  For my part, what they needed was a series of glowing signs to point out the different departments inside the store.  The design called for a very thin sign stylized to look like an old-school monochromatic display being held between a couple of cartoon robot hands.

Here's a pic of the end result:
Fundemonium Signs Done 02

And a close-up:
Fundemonium Signs Done 03

For details on how they were made, read on...

The first thing I did was build a small model for a proof-of-concept:

The lettering is carved into the backside of a thin piece of acrylic.  When the acrylic is edge-lit with LEDs, the carved areas light up and resemble an old monochrome computer monitor.

Once I was happy with the plan, I started by sculpting out some rudimentary cartoon hands from a block of insulation foam.  Once I had the shapes roughed out, I went ahead and coated them with some urethane resin and started smoothing them out with various fillers and files.  Here's a shot of the sculpts in progress:
Rough Hand Prototypes

Here they are after a bit more filling and smoothing:
Funbot Hands Nearly Completed

When I was happy with the finished sculpt I gave them my standard light red prototype glosscoat:
Finished Hand Prototypes 2

Once that had dried, I went ahead and laid up a silicone jacket mold:
Funbot Hand Molds Thickened

Then a two-part fiberglass mothermold for each hand:
Completed Hand Molds

While I was doing that, I had Lopez the Robot Whittler (my Craftsman Carvewright CNC machine) cut the artwork for the sign into the back side of a couple of pieces of clear 1/4" cast acrylic sheet.

When the hand molds had set up, it was time to pull a set of copies.  In order to minimize the cost of the project, I made as many pieces as I could out of readily available hardware store materials.  The hands themselves were cast directly onto ABS pipe fittings for strength.  Here's a shot showing all of the parts to make the first sign:
Prototype Sign Parts

I started by peeling the protective layer off of the acrylic sheets, then sandwiched a thin piece of black plastic between them, framed the edge with aluminum channel stock fitted with an LED strip.

Here's the first assembled sign:
Completed Prototype Sign

Here it is installed in the store:
Prototype Sign Installed

Clearly more were needed:
Plenty of Room for More Signs

So I got to work making more parts:
Fundemonium Hand Castings
And more parts:
Fn Sign Frame Pieces
And more parts:
Fundemonium Signs Carved

And even more parts:

Fundemonium Hand Castings Again

Then it was time to paint the hand castings and start making sub-assemblies:
Fundemonium Hand Assemblies

Then I had my shop assistant Jason help with the final assembly:
fundemonium sign installation

In order to prevent them from getting any small scratches on the surface, we left the protective paper film on the outside faces.  As each sign was assembled, they were moved into the next room where they could sit undisturbed in a relatively dust-free environment:
fundemonium sign installation

The next day it was time to do the final install.  Here they are all lined up in the store:
fundemonium sign installation  
It was a busy day, with me going up and down ladders and hanging signs but everything came out great:
fundemonium sign installation

fundemonium sign installation

At the end of the day I had all ten signs in place.  The next day the electrician came in and hooked them up:
Fundemonium Signs Done 02

If you're local, you can check them out by stopping in at Fundemonium, 171 North McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma.

I've got other
interesting projects in progress, so stay tuned and be sure to subscribe for updates.

1 comment:

  1. Next Trader Joe's run I'll have to stop by Fundemonium and check out your work. Looks great.