Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Made It: Custom Union Jack Clock

On occasion, especially after a show, I get requests for custom orders.  Sometimes people want a current design with different colors, or something in a different size.  But other times, I get requests for completely new designs.  The one that stands out most in my mind is a dinosaur fighting an octopus...
See?  Pretty sweet.

After the Oklahoma City show, I came back with some requests, and I will be posting some of them and the process here in the next week or so.  Today: The Union Jack Clock.

I decided it would just be easier to make this by hand than try to draw into the computer and have my robot-powered blade cut it all out, plus that would have caused problems with transferring the vinyl to the aluminum.  (I'm not going to go into details, just believe me, old-skool hands-on was the way to go here.)
Step 1: Gather those materials!
 I have about ten different colors of blue and red, so luckily my client gave me an idea of what hues she wanted.  Classic scheme.

Step 2: Sand down any bumps on aluminum and clean it.
 This is how I get my aluminum blanks from the fabricator.  There's always some industrial grease or residue, so a good alcohol wipe-down is always the first order of business.
Step 3: Add the base white vinyl, and leave plenty of over-hang.
I have a super-secret way of applying my vinyl to the aluminum so it's not bumpy/bubbly.  It DOES NOT involve a complicated recipe of water and rubbing alcohol.  No way.
Step 4: Start cutting and laying out the design.
I'm sure there are more efficient, professional, and technical ways of making a template for a design, but this is how I did it.  My house, my rules.
Step 5: Keep cutting and piecing it together.
More of the same...and, as it turns out, that parting gift of a paper weight from the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts really comes in handy in my line of work.
Step 6: Use the backing film from an old project to get everything in place.
This transparent backing was behind some vinyl I used in another project.  It allows me to piece together everything on top of my template before transfering it all to the aluminum.
Step 7: Stick it!
I peeled off just enough of the backing on the vinyl pieces so it would stick to the temporary backing in the appropriate places.
Step 8: Stick transfer tape to the pieces for transfer.
This magical product is sort of like masking tape but not as harsh and twice as awesome.  I can pick up the whole layout at one time and place it on the aluminum.  Then I peel off the remaining backing from the cut pieces and stick it down in a gingerly, loving manner.
Step 9: Exhale!
So it's all together, I just have to add the mechanism and hands.
Step 10: Admire whilst singing "God Save the Queen"
 Another new technique under my belt.  Thanks, Katie from Oklahoma, for the great project!
9 x 12 inches of Anglophile bliss

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