Thursday 19 March 2015

A trip to the sign writers

Yesterday I went to get the header panel for my penny arcade machine painted up so it would say 'The Tattooed Lady'. I knew I wanted it to have a classic style font and have a vintage look but I was less than confident that I could pull off the execution myself. I've used text in my work many times before but I knew that there was no way I could fake years of training and expertise to give my machine an authentic look. Here you can see the where the panel will be on The Tattooed Lady. Once fitted it will be surrounded by lights:

This is Damian of Damian Whyatt Signwriting who talked me through the process as he worked on my panel.

I had prepared the MDF panel the day before by priming it several times and sanding it down between coats to make it a smooth as possible then painting it with a sumptuous red acrylic. Damian began by using a template he had already drawn out and covering the back in chalk. He than traced over the original lines to transfer the design.

Next he taped up the lines of the decorative border and top and bottom of the letters. Then he began to paint them in using enamel paint with a special long flat bristled brush. It was magical to watch the paint glide on so perfectly!

Once the lower case letters had been completed the tape was pulled away from them to reveal a clean crisp edge. Next the larger letters with flourishes were painted in and the boarder filled in using the same process.

Damian then began to paint in the shadow in a dark red enamel paint. This small additionn made a huge difference and made the letters pop! The gap between the yellow and the dark red created a more dramatic look than if they had simply been painted to touch.

The whole process took about an hour and a half and was a real insight into the sign writing art form. I am really pleased with the finsihed piece and can't wait to see how it will look when it sits atop my penny arcade machine.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Shopping for The Tattooed Lady

A few weeks ago myself and Tom the carpenter (the maker of my wonderful Pre Raphaelite frame last year) went shopping for second hand furniture with which to make my tattoo transfer dispencer, The Tattooed Lady.

My design is inspired by the sort of penny arcade machines found in the early 1900's - 1930's, so we were looking for items with a vintage finish ideally with Queen Anne style legs.


We scoured every charity shop and even the posh antiques markets in Manchester looking for the right piece, but it was in a drafty second hand warehouse that we spotted a small non descript wardrobe that had potential.


At first glance it doesn't look like much, but I thought its wood had the perfect look plus it had some great details that could be utilized for my design.

We didin't find anything with lthe right legs but Tom reassured me he could pick some up new and stain them the right colour. 

With the materials ready, I mocked up a flat plan of my machine to scale. The fridge freezer came in very handy that day as I covered it in newspaper and drew all over it. It just happend to be the right height.

You can see how the decorative details of the wardrobe will be used for the top of the machine and the wood for the main body. The design also features bulbs which will light up as a transfer is dispenced.

I will be getting help from Tom and Steve Symons of The Owl Project for  the internal mechanism which will also feature a bell! I'm looking forward to seeing how this all comes together.