It is hard to believe that it was only seven years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Through extensive research I quickly found out that with the relative simplicity of EnRoute, CNC routers were capable of just about anything imaginable. This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as we continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful software... -dan

Monday, May 9, 2011

It comes to life!

 I get so many inquiries regarding our painting process. It is one of the things we spend a fair amount of time on in our workshops. Building the files and routing the work is important, but at that stage the work is really only half way done. The pieces must them be finished in an economic and timely fashion. In the last years we have developed a proven method of using water based acrylic paints to do just that.

I use a brand of paint called General paint. it works well for me. But it is available only in Canada. My advice is to use any PREMIUM brand of paint. We use semi gloss 100% house paint. Porter is a good brand in the USA. I am sure there are others. Don't try and save money in this department. If you do you will need to apply more coats and it won't last as long. Trying to save yourself money will bite you in the long term.

We use Coastal Enterprises water based Primer. Coastal Enterprises also makes the Precision Board we use. It is designed to work together. That' good enough for me. The primer is a high build, sand-able primer. We apply it with a brush as I do not like the end result of spraying. Brush marks are my friend. The folks at Coastal enterprises recommend that you place the work under  fan to dry for at least three hours. While I don't often follow directions I do listen here. The three hours under the fan draws out the moisture. This is important. 

Once the primer has cured I put on two coats of base color, drying well between coats. The fan speeds things up greatly.  Our base coats cover everything.

Then it is time to lay on a series of glazes to enhance the texture we created in the design, routing and primer stages. The first glaze is pretty lightly colored, just a few shades off of the base color. We mix our glazes ourselves using a simple formula. First we buy the clear deep tint base but without any colorant added. It is the same paint as the acrylic we buy. The folks at the paint store will look at you funny when you ask for it. It looks milky white but will dry clear. We mix this at a ratio of 50% clear base with 50% paint of the color of your choice from our stock.  The lightest color glaze is brushed on liberally then gently wiped off with a towel. With each coat of glaze we will wipe more and more off, leaving the colors underneath show through.  I used some of that same color glaze to add color to the bird's beak. Then it is put back under the fan to harden in a hurry.

The next color of glaze was a reddish born. It too was flowed on and then wiped off with a towel. I took a little more off this time, allowing the rich colors to show through.

Now it was time to add color to the bird and the worm. A final dark glaze would be brushed over the entire piece to bring out the detail when everything is dry.

It is back under the shop fan once more to dry real well before we press on. Stay tuned for the last stages...