A little bit of Sign envy amongst friends…

GlastonBees (Ian) and Restless Landscapes (Kate) work together on quite a few projects.  We also attend markets and stalls to show to the world what we do.

A few years ago I needed to make some signs for a large project that I had.  This led me to find some plans on the internet to make a Pantograph.  It was a steep learning curve to get the desired results but after an ode to resilience, it was achieved.

A little while later I decided to make myself a sign which I would take with me to markets and stalls as a GlastonBees sign.  This created (or so I believe anyway) some sign envy.  It took some time for this sign envy to show itself but when it did, there were rumours of a sign as a commission for Restless Landscapes.

It took some time for a final design to appear, partly because the ideas that I heard had far surpassed all of my previous sign making projects, meaning that I was unsure of the physical limitations of the Pantograph.

Commission... making a sign, prep workThrough a little negotiation, the design was agreed.  This was going to be the biggest yet, and the most detailed.  My understanding of the limitations of the pantograph kind of had some influence on the size of the final design but this was going to the limit and maybe even beyond.

I really dislike laser cutting and CNC routers when used for craft, as I feel they take some skill away from creating beautiful items; however this project would have been no problem for either of them.  I prefer the pantograph as it will scale down to either a half or a third of the size of the given template; it needs a lot of setting up and excellent hand and eye coordination whilst using it.

Commission... making a sign with the pantographThe final design arrived and required printing out.  It took 24 sheets of A4 paper, which all needed laminating, trimming and taping together.  When it was assembled, the pure scale of the sign became even more daunting, due to the anticipation of repositioning the template and the piece of wood.

I needed a piece of wood to bring this design to life; it wasn’t just the size that I was thinking of but also the colour and markings of the grain.  Thankfully several months ago I purchased a rather large piece of Sycamore with plans for great things which have yet to come into fruition, this project seemed to fit this piece of Sycamore perfectly.

Commission... making a sign, painting timeThe Sycamore was too big a piece of wood for my tools, so after a couple of phone calls, me and the Sycamore were on our way to a timber mill to use their much more capable tools.  After a little time on the Band saw and Thicknesser I had two pieces of beautiful Sycamore to take home.

In my workshop I trimmed one of the pieces of sycamore down to the required size using a Radial Arm Saw and Table Saw before taking it back to the Pantogaph.

Commission... making a sign, painting timeThe actual set up took much thought.  As a child my father taught me to measure twice and cut once, but this job required measure twice, triple check and then after careful placement, check again.

The cutting out of the design took almost 5 hours; this was due to the constant repositioning of both template and Sycamore as I still had to work within the limitations of the Pantograph.  It worked better than anticipated; I pushed my known boundaries and ended up with an extremely beautiful half-finished project.

The sign required 3 different colours for the design.  So it was time to tape over certain parts and get the spray paint out.  To speed things along I used a hairdryer to dry the paint in between coats.

Commission... making a sign, sanding timeAfter all of the painting was finished, I needed to use a sanding machine to remove the excess paint.  It took a bench top belt sander, a portable belt sander and a palm orbital sander to complete the removal of the paint and to finish the surface of all sides of the sign to a smooth finish.

A truly momentous project which in total took me approximately 10 hours from printing out the design to the last bit of sanding, required the use of 3 separate wood workshops, exceeded and made new boundaries and no idea how much time Kate took with the actual design process.

Commission... making a sign almost finishedThe sign envy has shown itself again, this time on my doorstep.

“Extracurricular projects”…

My knowledge and skills are being passed around recently and working wonders.

I have been taking time out from constructing beehives and have been fortunate enough to be working from the newly refurbished and wonderful setting of Llanyrafon Manor Rural Heritage Centre, also known as Llanyrafon Farm by some in Cwmbran, http://www.llanyrafonmanor.org/ (lucky for some huh).
The work site

After submitting a competitive tender to Torfaen “Community Foodie” (www.facebook.com/CommunityFoodie a Rural Development programme initiative which encourages community groups to grow their own food).

Glastonbees won the order for construction / installation of 11 large raised beds to go in the Kitchen Garden within the Manor grounds.   A community group will be planting up and maintaining these raised beds of which I cannot wait to see, it will be an impressive sight.

So it began with the arrival of the materials required and the hottest week on record (I believe so anyway), to construct and install these wooden giants.

To complete Phase 1 it needed: 388 metres worth of timber, 600 screws, 440 cuts, 3 volunteers and a bottle of after sun (an after thought). With the time constraints that were imposed on the job, it was completed, hoorah…


To complete Phase 2 it needed: 5 wheelbarrows, 2 shovels, 3 spades, 1 rake, 1 fork, 3 gazebos, waterproof clothing, approximately 36 tonnes of topsoil, yes you did read that right and a total of 15 volunteers to help in transporting the 36 tonnes of topsoil into the raised beds.

In addition to the raised beds I was asked to produce a sign for each raised bed.  Nearby I managed to find some branches which had been cut down, so they got turned into the signs which can be found below.  To produce the signs that I envisaged though, I needed to build a Pantograph and learn how to use it

In total there was 272.5 hours worked between everyone involved, I must point out that the volunteers were amazing. Thank you all so very much to all that were involved for your hard work and banter that was required to complete the work in record time. The job would not have been completed on time, if it were not for the help of these wonderful people.
Signs were needed for all 11 Raised Beds

Wonderful to see the first salad crops on their way