76: Membership Cards

The membership card fits nicely with other ID and credit cards.
The membership card fits nicely with other ID and credit cards.

Not too long ago, I discovered that an order of acrylic stock from a few months ago included some incorrect materials. I mistakenly ordered some 1/32″ thick acrylic without adhesive, when the order was for stock to make self-adhesive frame labels.

While I was wondering whether to go to the trouble of seeking a correction on a months-old order, Jennifer suggested that the material may be useful for another project she had in mind: membership cards for Aurora Historical Society lifetime members. The material I’d accidentally ordered without adhesive was the perfect thickness for the project, so I researched the proper size for a membership card (It’s 3 3/8″ by 2 1/8″) and got designing.

Jennifer wanted to feature some Aurora history in the design of the card, and asked me to consider Thomas Edie Hill’s amazing hand-drawn scroll work as seen in his Manual of Social and Business Forms. Here’s what Jennifer had to say:

Professor Thomas E. Hill was a teacher, a newspaper publisher and two term mayor of Aurora, IL. He also was the author of Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms, regarded by many as the preeminent etiquette book of the age. The many editions of the book are quite amazing, from describing the perfect way to act in a nuanced Victorian culture, to the amazing illustrations. I really can’t say it better than this glowing recommendation from the Aurora Blade Newspaper:
“Every page of Hill’s Album is a model of typography and originality, each differing from the other in mechanical construction and each succeeding leaf a surprise from an artistic standpoint. The question one asks instinctively is how can a man conceive so many elegant designs? The contents of the book, however, are what prove its most forcible recommendation. The name of the author of this valuable work, Hon. Thomas E. Hill, is in itself enough to recommend it to all. Our readers are advised to examine the book carefully when they have the opportunity.”

One example of Hill's typography and illustration skills.
One example of Hill’s typography and illustration skills.

I laid out the information necessary for the card, including signatures for the President and Executive Director of the society. I then chose one of Thomas Hill’s headers to trace in Illustrator and transplanted one of his signatures from another piece to properly give credit on the card design. Once finished, I started engraving on one of the color combinations we had available in the 1/32″ material.

Inverting this kind of illustration didn't work so well.
Inverting this kind of illustration didn’t work so well.

Black over silver turned out terribly, mostly thanks to how badly the design disagreed with being inverted. Furthermore, the smooth, glossy surface was a fingerprint magnet. The design turned out much better on the second material, brushed silver over black.

The 1/32" acrylic was the best thickness for the job.
The 1/32″ acrylic was the best thickness for the job.

While I didn’t engrave any more tests for this entry, I expect I’ll try a few more color combinations; the brushed silver is a nice look, but the fine engraving can be hard to read at certain angles. Naturally, the final material choice will be up to the client!

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