Tag Archives: personalized

40: Commemorative Book Stack Marker

John F. McKeeThe Aurora Public Library is getting ready to move from it’s long time home in the Carnegie-sponsored library building to a new and modern structure, the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora.  The new library  should be completed early in 2015 and marks the new era of library service in Aurora.

While it’s exciting to build something new, it’s also good to remember the old.  For the last 110 years, Aurora, Illinois has taken pride in its original Carnegie Library.   Carnegie helped build nearly 1700 libraries in the United States  between 1880 and his death in 1919, and even established trusts for his work to continue after his death.

Built in 1904, the library has served the community well.  While it has been expanded, gotten a facelift, and spawned several branches, it is still the core of the Aurora Library System.  Frank Patterson wrote a great history of the library you can find on the Aurora Public Library website.

The Aurora Public Library, as built in 1904.  The image is for the collections of the Aurora Historical Society.
The Aurora Public Library, as built in 1904. The image is from the collections of the Aurora Historical Society.
During the 1969 renovation, which cost as much as erecting the building in the first place, the library tripled in size and got a new, unified facade.
During the 1969 renovation, which cost as much as erecting the building in the first place, the library tripled in size and got a new, unified facade.  Image is from the collections of the Aurora Historical Society.

Carnegie revolutionized and modernized libraries; I thought it was fascinating that he basically ushered in the era of open stacks!  Before the widespread Carnegie libraries, books were held under lock and key, and a librarian would get you one that was specifically requested.  What would a library be without browsing?!

The is the inside of the 1904 library, open stacks visible behind the desk.  Photo from the Collection of the Aurora Historical Society
The is the inside of the 1904 library, open stacks visible behind the desk. It practically looks the same when you are on the main floor!  Photo from the Collection of the Aurora Historical Society

The ability for patrons to browse is actually what is bringing you this post today.  The library has numerous artifacts from the early days, including the book shelves behind the librarians in the above photo.  If you go there today, the shelves are marked with the same cast brass label holders they used in 1904.

Book stack plate from the 1904 library
Book stack plate from the 1904 library, photo taken 10/3/2014!

They are a gorgeous piece of Aurora Library history; heavy and very turn of the century.  They definitely tickle my love of historic design – which is why I was so excited about this project.  We were approached by the library to help them fashion the book stack markers into unique plaques for generous supporters of the new Library.  This plaque in particular was for John McKee, long time Aurora and Kiwanis member.  The Kiwanis Club of Aurora wanted to honor him for the charitable work he has done, including helping the club raise $100,000 for the Children’s Services area new library. 

On the book stacks, they simply fasten with two almost invisible screws along the bottom of the frame, and the librarians could slip a piece of paper behind them.  To create a presentation piece, we needed something a little more long lasting.  Thin acrylic, only 1.5mm deep, sat perfectly in the back of the frame, and was flush to the back.

Backside of the casting.  Lovely patina!  and it gives you some idea of the depth.
Backside of the casting. Lovely patina! Hopefully you can get some sense of depth.

We choose white capped black because of the classic literary took – nearly all books have black text on a crisp white page.  There was brief discussion about using almond topped dark brown, to give it a more aged look, but I thought it would complete too much with the lovely brass frame.

W wanted to covr the entire opening on the back.  /the little feet are on there because there were some shallow areas in the casting we had to work around.
We wanted to cover the entire opening on the back. The little feet are on there because there were some shallow decorative areas in the casting we had to work around.

One of the things I was most happy with (especially when it came to assembly) was the fact we chose to make the engraved piece big enough to fill the entire back opening, which is much larger than just the front.  Not only did this help finish the piece (the back was just a solid, flush sheet of acrylic), making sure the text was aligned was a breeze too!  We had to adhere the plate while the frame was face down due to depth.  If we had cut the inscription to just the opening in the front, the chance I would have glued the names in a bit cock-eyed would have been much, much higher.

I enjoyed helping the library to make their recognition of John McKee something unique to their history and their mission!  A bit of the old helping usher in the new.

27: Etched recipe boxes

Summer means it is wedding season!  And weddings mean gifts.   When Rebecca of Hugs are Fun came to me with her idea of etching recipe box for her sister-in-law’s bridal shower, and I knew it would be just perfect for my nephew’s wedding at the end of June as well.

Rebecca did the embroidery, too!  It's a great set.
Recipe box 1.  Rebecca did the embroidery, too! It’s a great set. Photo by Rebecca.
You can see how it looked with the transfer tape applied.
You can see how it looked with the transfer tape applied.

Rebecca planned a themed shower, based around the lovely design “Summer Love” by Casalastudio on Etsy.  She chose to etch the top of the the bamboo recipe box with the “LOVE”design.   We taped it so there would be the possibility of paining it, but Rebecca thought it looked great au natural!  You can see the rest of her post on the project on her blog.

For my nephew, we decided to go a little more personalized.  I went with a classic “kitchen” theme on the box, not really knowing the bride’s style.  I also decided to etch the front of the box rather than the top, so the design could be seen with the box open.

The finished piece - love the retro recipe cards!
The finished piece – love the retro recipe cards, printed from Love vs. Design!
Utterly satisfying sloppy paint job.  Notice the bubble in the transfer tape by the Ns in "McKanna"
Utterly satisfying sloppy paint job. Notice the bubble in the transfer tape by the Ns in “McKanna”
How the paint looked under the transfer tape bubble
How the paint looked under the transfer tape bubble

After the transfer tape was applied, we cut the design.  I painted it liberally and sloppily with black paint, knowing the transfer tape would take care of the mess.  I was almost right – the lesson here is to always double check your transfer tape is fully adhered after cutting as well.  After the paint was dry, I noticed a few bubbles along the cut lines, and black paint seeped under.  I used a latex paint, so here’s lesson two for you: newly dried latex paint comes up nicely with a fingernail if you put a hot wet compress on it first.  (Phew).

To compliment the retro / classic rolling pin look, I printed fabulous  (and free!) retro themed recipe cards from Love vs. Design.  The box size was a little odd, so we ended up making them a bit shorter before printing.  The wedding wasn’t that long ago so we haven’t heard how it was received, but I can only hope the bride and groom enjoy our taco seasoning recipe as much as we do, and fill the box with recipes of their own.

The design in the natural "fresh cut" finish
The design in the natural “fresh cut” finish
Peeling off the transfer tape
Peeling off the transfer tape

ampersand

23: Personalized Collar Stays

Not being very experienced in modern men’s dress clothing, imagine my confusion when I found two flat metal strips with a point on one end at the bottom of my washing machine. They belonged to my friend Brenn, who came over to do a load quick and forgot to take them out.  After learning that they are to keep collar points stiff and better shirts have pockets sewn in especially for them, I found that Ryan did have some shirts with stays in the collar – just regular plastic though.  Brenn upgraded his collar stay game from plastic to stainless steel thanks to advice from a mutual friend, Woody, and this post is inspired by them.

Full set we made up.  THre is a metal Jen <3 Ryan missing because of a funny misalignment with the laser.
Full set we made up. Yes, there is one missing, and it’s a funny story for tomorrow.

Collar stays are a descendant to stiff removable collars favored by the Victorians.  (See, those I’m familiar with!) Stiffened collars were removable, and allowed men to go longer between laundering the whole shirt; just replace the collar.  The stiffening in the collar also caught dirt and sweat better, and kept it from penetrating the fabric for easier washing.  When the ability to wear a shirt just once then launder it (ie – washing technology made the process cheaper and easier), collars were incorporated on the shirts.  You wouldn’t want to stiffen a whole shirt to make a nice neat collar – in comes the collar stays.  (If you want a little more in depth information, check out Stewart Hershey’s blog post!)

Ryan’s thin plastic ones didn’t last long, cracking or getting lost.  So I decided to laser cut him one.   It is personalized with the same message as inside his wedding ring – jen <3 ryan (because I do!).

Same sentiment as in his wedding ring!
Same sentiment as in his wedding ring!

In researching the ideal size to make a stay, I was reminded that better ones were made in stainless steel.  Plain metals can’t be marked with my CO2 laser, but this gave us a chance to try out a special marking spray.  There are a couple different brands, but we used TherMark, and I’m kind of in love.  It sprays a powder over the metal that the heat of the laser turns black and fuses to the metal.

All Sprayed and ready to go!  The white spots are from rain drops, and surprisingly, this didn't effect the finished etch.
All sprayed and ready to go! The white spots are from rain drops, and surprisingly, this didn’t effect the finished etch.
When Thermark dries, it becomes a powder.
When Thermark dries, it becomes a powder.
The powder washes away under a weak stream of water - easy clean up!
The powder washes away under a weak stream of water – easy clean up!

The powder washes off easily, and we couldn’t scratch the markings off with a fingernail.  Maybe it’s the hidden romantic in me, but I think the “Mr. & Mrs.” or something more personalized would be an amazing wedding gift.

...This in no way implies that Metro and Woody are Mr. and Mrs.
If you look really close, you see that the etch is half-toned.  That is all my fault.  I designed my files in CMYK, not RGB and the black didn’t get transferred over as full black.  A better explanation on why is matters is in Week 09: Yoga Bones
Woody in the collar pocket.
Woody in the collar pocket.