Monday, January 28, 2013

Big letters for the smallest model of the World’s Biggest Bookstore

Making the letters for the sign was easy, but tedious. First, I found a font that came close to the one used on the storefront by playing around with the fonts in Apple’s Keynote: Arial Black in 185 point was the one I settled on.  The font was determined by comparing the size, shape and positioning of prototype’s letters to the entry doors and people in the photos. You can see that my letters aren’t an exact match to the prototype, but they’re close enough to give a reasonable impression of it.
From Keynote, the letters for the sign were printed on paper, and then cut out and glued to a sheet of 0.040 inch styrene with rubber cement. To make sure the words were glued on as flat as possible, I evenly spread a thin coat of rubber cement on them, pressed the words onto the styrene sheet making sure they were flat and there are no bubbles, folds or creases as they were attached. I placed a clean sheet of paper over top of the newly applied words and used a roller to apply pressure across their surface. After a few passes with the roller, I lifted off the sheet, and the words were flat and uniformly bonded to the styrene. I let them dry for around an hour before proceeding.

To cut out a letter, I scored around its edges with a sharp knife. For letters that had contained areas like o, or e, I used a drill bit to open up a few holes in the area, and then scribed some radiating lines from the edges of the contained area to the drilled holes. I used a pair of fine, small pliers to carefully break out the pieces from the area. Once done, the edges were a little rough and needed some cleaning up with files, sanding boards or a knife.
To free a letter from the styrene sheet, I first used heavy-duty scissors to cut out the letter leaving a small amount of surrounding plastic encircling its scribed outline. I then used pliers to carefully snap around the scored lines to remove the excess material from the letter’s edges.  To remove excess material from curved edges, I first scored some radiating lines from the scribed curved edge on the letter out to the edge of the excess material. I then used pliers to carefully bend and snap each radiating piece. Again, some edges were a little rough and need sanding to clean them up.

Once a letter had been cut out, I peeled the paper pattern off its surface. Since rubber cement was used, it came off cleanly and did not leave a residue.

Then I repeated the process18 times.

Well, I guess I shouldn’t say it that way. It’s actually rather calming to cut out letters. I need quiet and no distractions to do this job, so it’s rather relaxing to chill and cut out 2 or 3 since it requires my brain’s background chatter to drop to zero.

Although, cutting out the letters ‘s’ and ‘e’ can try the patience of a saint :-)
Once all the letters were formed and strung out in a long line as on the prototype’s sign a “Holy Cow! That’s going to be one large building” moment whacked me on the head. I knew from the numbers it was going to be a big façade, but laying out the pieces drove that point home. It’s going to be my largest scratch-built building to date.

Well, the letters still need some sanding and filing to smooth them out before painting, so it’s time to move on to the next phase of construction.

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