Making the Gear- 2016 edition

Many of you recognize the piece that first garnered us national attention. Synergy’s gear set was featured in magazines and on our supplier sites for almost a year. Our friends at Coastal Enterprises even use it as a backdrop print for their trade show booth. That gear now calls Multicam’s Grand Rapids tech center home.


Since we didn’t want the Multicam tech center in Cincinnati, Ohio to feel left out, we decided to build one for their showroom as well. When imagining what the new gear would look like, we decided that it would be a futuristic version of the old gear set and would showcase what we have learned in the last few years.

This write up is a step by step guide on the new gear set. You can see that it’s a very rough and plain drawing.

The first step was to settle on a design that paid homage to the original, but went way beyond. Here is the 2D vector that we settled on. At this point, the only thing we are working with is vector shapes to pull into Enroute Pro

The next step is pulling those vector geometries into Enroute Pro and extruding, texturing, and toolpathing the 3d geometry. I’ll be covering that process at a later date. It deserves its very own write up.

All of the parts were machined from 1″ and 2″ 30lb Precision Board plus. Precision Board allows us to communicate our vision through carving on our Multicam CNC Router like no other material does. Here you see the parts being glued up.

In this step, you see Bryan sanding the Precision Board cut outs with a random orbital sander. What you can also see, is that we plasma cut 10 gauge steel on our Multicam Plasma cutter and bonded it to every HDU part on this project. This allowed us to weld support structure when assembling and made the entire piece very rigid.

Here you see the arms with the lamented steel structure being sealed in by multi purpose bondo. A little sanding after this and we have a part ready for paint.

The gear base sections getting their first coat of paint.

Here is what the gears look like with their base coats finished. Next up glazing.

The next three pictures show the glazing process and yours truly… You can see how amazing they look after one coat of black glaze.



Aubrey painting one of the many coats of Modern Masters paints on the large arms. Aubrey painted on this project for well over 2 days. I think she was happy to see it leave.

Finished picture of the arms after base coat and glazing

Finished pictures of the base parts. The copper on these was an actual reactive copper paint that will oxidize when sprayed with an agent.



Here is the finished piece. It stands about 5’5″ tall and weighs in at a hight 125lbs while looking much heavier.

We are super excited with the end product. If you want to see it, stop by Multicam’s showroom located at:

MultiCam Ohio Valley
18 Carnegie Way, Cincinnati, OH 45246

Thanks for catching up!


Published with permission from Synergy Sign & Graphics. Source.

The Sign Invitational Retrospective ( Part 3 of 5 )

So what do you do when your the new kid on the block in a room full of the most creative sign makers in the world? Well, you sit and listen to all of them of course…

That is what I did at least. I have been watching and hearing about the contestants for months, so of course, I was going to pick their brains! Only I really didn’t have to ask or pry they openly started giving tons of advice, tips and tricks right out of the gate. That’s what makes this industry great. They were excited to share their knowledge and thought process and they enjoyed learning about my background as well.

So here is some wisdom bestowed upon me by the Sign Makers and sponsors of the Sign Invitational 2016.

One of the first I met was Roger Cox and Periandros Damoulis from House of Signs in Colorado. We stayed in the same hotel and had lunch together on set up day. I watched for hours as the two of them kept pulling out part after part after part for their sculpture. It took them over 6 hours to put that thing together and was very well worth it in my opinion. I sat next to Rodger at lunch and honestly he picked my brain more than anything. But I learned from Rodger it is okay being diverse. It’s okay to know a little about everything because honestly it is helpful. Rodger told me they had a girl similar at his shop and he thinks its absolutely fantastic at the amount of things she can do.IMG_0052

The next sign artist I met Phil Vanderkratts and Donna Shriver from Signs by Van. They first tormented me by shipping their sculpt with packing peanuts which ended up everywhere…. I have forgiven them for that. Anyways, those two pretty much put a piece of foam in my hands along with a chisel and started showing me how to carve woodgrain. Without hesitation they started right in showing me what to do. We also became Facebook friends quickly and they want me to send them progress shots of my carving. Donna also kept checking up on me since we were two of the few females in this sea of men and we both came from similar background doing graphic design and marketing and now find ourselves sign makers.

Doug Haffner from Haffner’s Fantastic Creations was my next encounter…. He simply is very entertaining and pretty much a walking sitcom. The things that man says and does are pretty much hilarious. I found myself laughing so hard I couldn’t breath at times. I sat next to Doug at several meals talking Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones , Face/Off and Jim Henson and pretty much learned from Doug it is okay to be yourself and to be comfortable with yourself. After all we only have one life so we might as well make it a fun one.IMG_9986

Kellie Miller of Coastal Enterprises was a sponsor and now a woman I can call a friend. She showed me the inner workings of trade shows and showed me around a bit. Kellie gave me some amazing advice since I am just starting out in this field and showed me sometimes dynamite comes in small packages. Her best advice was “Don’t let people walk all over you, they will be surprised at all you can do.”IMG_0099

Peter Sawatzky has a absolute amazing laugh that belongs to a cartoon character. After learning Peter wanted to be a teacher before his recent endeavors, showed me sometimes life doesn’t go how you planned it. He wanted to be a teacher it didn’t work out, it was not for him and now he’s creating works of art daily. Just shows life doesn’t go as planned but sometimes it can put you on the course to something greater.IMG_0050

Dan Sawatzky….. I have been watching and reading his blogs for a few years, back when I first started freelancing for Jim. It was really cool to meet him after following him for so long. Dan is a very down to earth guy and incredibly nice. He helped inspire and get many of the people in the Sign Invitational started in sign making with his workshops. Besides learning he is a cut-throat go-kart driver, Dan put in perspective to me what I really want to do in life. I want to be a artist, simply put and I get to do that everyday here at the shop.IMG_0057

So I learned a lot from all of these wonderful individuals and I hope to keep learning more from all of them.


Published with permission from Synergy Sign & Graphics. Source.

The Sign Invitational Retrospective ( Part 2 of 5 )

Aubrey Gealsha, our newest team member and Illustrator extraordinaire, took the time yesterday to write about her first ISA visit and getting exposed to the sign industry in such a big way at ISA 2016.

I leave you with the words straight from her mouth. ( She’s pictured on the left… )


The past two months here at Synergy have been a non stop crazy adventure. We have been working long hours not only as contestants but as event organizers as well. Relaying phone calls, emails to finish up our contest piece.

I honestly haven’t mixed that much clay in my life, and painted so much in one day. It was a learning experience and I pretty much had to jump head first into the sign world, having only been recently hired. I had no idea so much went into each piece and how much is fully involved and used to create these fantastic works of art. Not only is the art that is produce fantastic and amazing, but the people behind the art are equally fantastic and amazingly talented artists.

Over the past week, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with and share meals and fun with some of the top sign makers in the industry. It was fun to pick their brains learning how they found sign making. They equally embraced and welcomed me into this world by giving me tips and trick and open invitations to their sign shops any time. I honestly have never been in the same room with so many talented, humble and friendly people in my life and I am truly thankful for a wonderful experience the Sign Invitational was.

After driving 14 hours to Orlando our adrenaline must have been pumping as we unloaded and unpacked the sign sculptures, many of which I had not seen yet. With each crate being open in the chaos of forklifts, drill, hammers and people running around everywhere. Everyone in the Multicam booth took a minute and stood back to see this art emerge from each crate. Each amazing in their own way and reflective of the style of each sign artist.

I had never been to a trade show in my life let alone exhibit in one and I am very thankful Jim took me along. I learned so much, saw so much and met so many amazing people along the way. I was so inspired and so excited I was sketching ideas on the way home. I was also looking up hand carving techniques to practice on samples of HDU that Coastal Enterprises was so generous to give me.

It was a very eye opening experience and shows that sign making is not all just decals, banners, and car wraps but it can also be considered a true art form in the 3d realm as well as engineering marvels.



Published with permission from Synergy Sign & Graphics. Source.