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:
And a close-up:
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:
Here they are after a bit more filling and smoothing:
When I was happy with the finished sculpt I gave them my standard light red prototype glosscoat:
Once that had dried, I went ahead and laid up a silicone jacket mold:
Then a two-part fiberglass mothermold for each hand:
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:
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:
Here it is installed in the store:
Clearly more were needed:
So I got to work making more parts:
And more parts:
And more parts:
And even more parts:
Then it was time to paint the hand castings and start making sub-assemblies:
Then I had my shop assistant Jason help with the final assembly:
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:
The next day it was time to do the final install. Here they are all lined up in the store:
It was a busy day, with me going up and down ladders and hanging signs but everything came out great:
At the end of the day I had all ten signs in place. The next day the electrician came in and hooked them up:
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.