Building the Synergy Sign 2019 Sign Invitational Piece

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to host guest blogs written by some of the signage industry’s biggest movers and shakers, posted to the Precision Board Blog.  This guest blog is written by Jim Dawson with Synergy Sign & Graphics, based in Strasburg, Ohio.  Jim shows us how he fabricated their 2019 Sign Invitational entry from three densities of Precision Board polyurethane and steel as well as surface texturing using Smooth-On products and Coastal Enterprises’ own TSF-45.

sign invitational

In Jim Dawson’s own words…

In usual form, the 2019 version of The Sign Invitational snuck up on us this year. Sometimes I feel like I work better under pressure, and sometimes I just flat out procrastinate to a fault. That being said, I think I hammered out a pretty amazing piece considering the time constraints I imposed on myself.

This year’s Sign Invitational theme was time, so I chose to build a whimsical elven clock that ran on pure magic. Unfortunately, before the elves could finish, the trolls got involved and tainted the magic forcing the clock to run backwards therefor throwing the whole elven world into utter chaos. In an attempt to ward off any further threats from the trolls, the elves built a beautiful golden owl to perch on top of the clock tower. Everyone knows that trolls despise two things more than anything; gold and owls.

sign invitational

We started the build as a top down kind of build. Any good building has the top built first! That allows you to figure out how much foundation it will need. Start up high and work down to the ground with true elven magic. The owl was a true all-encompassing piece for us. We carved the front of the owl using our Multicam 3000 series router. It was carved from 3″ thick 18lb Precision Board from Coastal Enterprises. Carving 3″ foam is no joke, so we left the heavy lifting to our X-Edge Tools XCT518 ball end mill. Once the from was carved we build up the thickness with two additional 2″ layers and embedded a steel frame inside the owl. Feather work was all hand laid and sculpted by myself and my good friend David Brent.

Once the owl was complete, I turned my attention to the steel frame for the entire piece. This year we used the Multicam V series plasma to flat cut almost the entire frame. It made quick work of all the steel structure that was almost entirely covered up in the final piece.

After the steel was assembled I began to model all of the various panels that would clad the structure. EnRoute Pro was used to model and tool path the panels. We carved 8 panels in all with various Celtic weaves and knots along with a very rare elven wood grain pattern which was entrusted to us by the head elf himself. Once again, all of the magical panels were carved from Precision Board, but the 30lb variety for added durability.

The motorized gears on the sides of the clock were carved from Coastal Enterprises PBLT-60, which is about as dense as concrete. It was amazing to watch the abuse they took running 10 hours a day for 3 days. They still show no wear at all. It could be a little more of that elven magic as well, but I prefer to think they have engineered a superior product.

Once we arrived in Las Vegas, it was apparent that the elven magic we used on the clock had worked on the crowds. We enjoyed some of the largest crowds we have seen at the Sign Invitational thanks to a great move to the Signs Of The Times booth. After 3 days of voting, and over 1500 votes, my friend and mentor Dan Sawatzky narrowly edged me out in the large sign category. Mo Flint took the honors in the small category with his amazingly-detailed Time Pirates piece.

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We are already gearing up for next year. Give us a shout if you would like to compete!

Materials and Software:

Coastal Enterprises – PBLT 18, 30, and 60. TSF 45.

Smooth-On– Freeform Sculpt. Freeform Habitat. Smooth Cast 325.

SAi Enroute Pro 6.0, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop

Multicam 3000 Series Router

X-Edge Tools XCT518 Ball End Mill

sign invitational

We think that Jim Dawson and his team do some really excellent work. Synergy Sign & Graphics has a highly experienced staff whose backgrounds include graphic design, marketing, trade-show design, print media, branding, point of purchase design, fulfillment, and more. Check out their website or give them a call at (330) 878-7646 to see about your next project!

Coastal Enterprises offers free samples of Precision Board HDU.  Already have a project in mind for our material?  Request a quote and get started today.  Sign up for our monthly blog roundup so you don’t miss any of our informative blogs.  Have a special project fabricated with Precision Board HDU and want to know if it could be featured in a blog on our website?  Give us a call at 800-845-0745 or drop us an email with details.  We’d love to hear from you!