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Functional Art, Part 2

Posted 08-25-2012 at 12:47 PM by arch2b
I immediately dove into the 'art' portion of the build which is dressing the bridge channel. It starts with of course the 2x2x36 aluminum channel. This sounds like a lot of surface area to work with but the limitations of working within a 2" vertical dimension gets tricky.

36" just fits the width of a two tile wide RCP 50cm track. These come in various widths and can easily find a length that will fit a 3 tile wide track however that limits you to only 3 tile wide tracks that are infrequent in our parts so it's best to stick with 2 tile wide.

First thing to do is sand the surface to clean off any residue and surface anomalies. This process also helps with paint adhesion so it's worthwhile to do. I typically use a fine grit foam sanding block you can get from any hardware store. Always wipe down the surface with an appropriate cleaner to remove all the dust, finger oils, etc. Its then onto covering the canvas with masking tape. I always use Tamiya simply because i can buy it locally and it works. I've had great success with it so no reason to fix something that isn't broken. There are other quality products out there however this works for me so go with what your most comfortable with it your doing this or something similar. I can't stress enough how important it is to start with a quality masking tape. It can make or break your paintwork.

You will want to minimize the overlapping as much as possible as it simply makes it harder to complete delicate stencil work through multiple layers of masking tape and overlap joints. I used the 40mm tape for the job as it allowed me to cover the entire surface in 4 strips. 3 would have been better...maybe next time. This tape is different from the normal 18mm tape i use. The tape less pliable and the surface tension is greater than the thinner tapes. I typically only use the 40mm tape for larger coverage areas without curved surfaces.

I did not get as many pictures of this build so far so I will use examples from the previous build when needed.

I use Photoshop, Autocad, Word or whatever works best and available at the time to plan out the text, character spacing, font choice, etc. to scale and proper fit for the area it is intended and print out on whatever paper it available. If i had the resources, you can get stencil cutting printers that would create the masking stencil for you eliminating a few steps in this process but alas, that is not in my budget so I'm bouncing between masking tape, paper and cutting knife.

Example of various text stencil options i print to choose the one i like most when looking at the actual channel. I feel it's important to review the options as they would appear on the material vs. deciding off a screen or print.

Simply tape the stencil pattern (call it what you will, it serves as a pattern for my use) to the location where it will be applied. I use the Xacto knife with rubber grip as it's easier to hold for long periods of time and less prone to slipping in my fingers. when i do this again, I'll pick up one of the stenciling knives as the blade looks like it will be much easier to control vs. the standard #11. Use the knife to trim out the letters. Its much easier said than done at times. when you push to hard you end up fighting the grain of the metal and it's very easy to apply to much pressure when your going over areas of overlapping masking tape. The metal also dulls the blades very quickly so the longer one is used, the more force I need to use to keep clean cuts. I don't always change them enough so i am often cutting into the surface of the metal. A professional wouldn't even scar the metal surface but i'm no professional.

When the stencil work is completed and masking tape removed it looks like this

For this commission I included some logo's and graphics as well as text.

For this commission I also included a personal touch and stenciled a biblical quote, Ecclesiastes 9:11. I thought it suite this particular club very well and thoughtful prose applicable to the activity.
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Let me tell you, I was not prepared for all the cutting it took to get this done. I spent 1-2 hours a night for 3 days cutting out this bible quote. I'm confident that it was time well spent and will look fantastic when finished. It also took 2 days to peel the masking tape off as well. I peeled it back in two rows, first the bottom half and then the top half so i could ensure the lettering came out cleanly.

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