Tag Archives: silver/black acrylic

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!

37: Controller Tags

I was thrilled when Brenn commissioned something I hadn’t done before: acrylic labels for a Nintendo Wavebird controller.  I’m a huge fan of the Super Smash Bros. series of games and have three well-worn Wavebirds of my own, but in this case I would be making a name label for Alex, or “Killer Noodle 2.”

A template cut from cardstock helped determine shape issues.
A template cut from cardstock helped determine shape issues.

Aesthetics came about a little by accident: Brenn suggested a car racing theme, but the checkerboard flag pattern I made ended up looking far more like a zipper than a flag. We decided to couple the zipper design with a Gamecube logo approximation font called Gamecuben.

The shape took a few tries to get right. That was mostly because I was too lazy to do precise measurements, but I did use some laser-cut cardstock to get a feel how the final acrylic piece would fit between the D-pad and the thumb buttons. Compared to the cardstock prototype, which wrapped down around the Start/Pause button, I cropped the final acrylic piece a little farther up so I could avoid obsessing over following the controller’s curved shapes as much as possible. It helped balance out the length of the username printed front-and-center, anyway!

Engraving through transfer tape didn't work so well.
Engraving through transfer tape didn’t work so well.

I used some 1/16″ Silver/Black foiled acrylic with an adhesive layer on the back. This made adhering the final pieces a snap. A long time ago, I ran across a conversation on a laser engraving forum suggesting that, with the right power settings, one could laser engrave certain 2-ply acrylics through the transfer tape, resulting in a clean engraving with no blow back thanks to the tape. Well, I tested that with this project and while I didn’t experiment with every power and speed setting available, I did give it a handful of shots. The results were almost universally sticky and inconsistent. A pity!

A matching tag for the Wavebird's receiver.
A matching tag for the Wavebird’s receiver.

A simple rounded rectangle with an LED window was made to fit on the Wavebird’s receiver unit. It used the same stroke effect and type as the main controller piece, so it was also quick and easy!

This was a fun project, partly because of my fondness for the hardware involved, and partly because collaborating with Brenn came easily, the design snapped together without much trouble and required few prototypes, and the final acrylic really stands out on the controller. Frankly, it might stand out too much, but I’m fond of it anyway!

The completed set: one Wavebird game pad and one receiver!
The completed set: one Wavebird game pad and one receiver!