Our friends Lora Lee & Kevin over there at the Corner Coffeebar & Arthouse asked us to create a one-of-a-kind sidewalk sign for their new shop. They wanted something that matched their vintage industrial decor, and they didn’t need the usual chalkboard that everyone and their dog has. One thing about these guys is that they sit at the corner of the main square here in Cookeville, so they wanted the sign to be visible from MORE than 2 angles. Final issue, this corner is like a wind tunnel!
OUR SOLUTION: Think outside the box
So we stepped into another dimension with a faux-aged, triangular sign topped by a spinning coffee pot! Whew. We started on the CNC mill and cut the basic shapes…seems simple enough. Then came paint, crackle finish, paint, asphaltium, sanding, paint mask, airbrushing, metal edging, paint, more CNC cutting, more paint, two bushings, one metal rod, then we wrapped it up with a sturdy set of casters. And by the way, we filled that baby with 50 lbs. of sand so that it won’t tip over…EVER.
After we delivered it, I sat and rocked, and watched the heads turn as fast as that little red coffee pot did!
Hiya…we’re back! Well, we never really left, just got busy with life, work, and whatnot. For those that aren’t up to speed, I’ll fill you in on all of that later (or at least I aspire to).
Anyway, just thought what better way to get back on the ol’ blogwagon than to post a recent piece that Sign Builder Illustrated did on Acme Industrial Thinking about our sign-making process. It covers a cute little sign we did for Just for You, right here in Cookeville, TN (yes, we’ve moved…more later). Check us out around page 30. Enjoy!
ps – don’t miss the extra article about Team Bob & Jen near the back of the mag
A great article in the 10 year anniversary issue of Dwell last month. Gives a nod to the evolution of the small CNC shop like ours!
Do you ever just google your company’s name? Well you should. If for no other reason than to confirm that your blogging, chatting, Facebooking & Twerting (?) are actually getting out there. I mean, really…it’s exhausting isn’t it? And sometimes I wonder who cares anyway.
So yesterday I did just such a thing, and I was surprised to see how many links there are to Acme Industrial Thinking. I guess the goal is to have other folks talking about you, but I was even surprised to see how much of my own work is reflected…page after page actually. It’s sorta creepy…and great.
Anyway, all of is blathering is to say that I found this neato little mention of a custom nightstand that I listed on Etsy a million years ago. It’s just pretty cool to see that someone out there really likes your work, other than the client that ordered the piece…or your mom.
Apparently re-nest like us, they really like us!
“Last week we were looking at the Apartment Therapy Flickr pool for nightstand inspiration. This week we’re looking through our next favorite source, Etsy, for some stylishly green bedside tables. Take a look at some of our favorites…” Sweet.
We’ve all been to our local craft fair and seen the tent full of metal cowboy silhouettes, right? How about the tried & true howling coyote cut out? Kokopeli…classic. What many people don’t realize is that those humble pieces are cut from sheets of metal using a plasma CNC mill…a computer numerically controlled mill that cuts metal with a plasma torch. And man, is it a pretty cut. It’s a perfect cut. It’s what we do with wood & plastic at Acme Industrial Thinking, but as and with artists, we’re trying to take it even further. Think Renaissance, people. Too much? OK, maybe.
While I’m not planning on cutting out any wooden prairie dogs to sell at a craft fair, I do appreciate the sentiment, by extension. The connection between art and technology has grown ferociously since fractals were just a glimmer. I mean, imagine the possibilities of trading in your chisel or paintbrush for a CNC mill. Think Steve Jobs meets Michaelangelo…and wow. I’m talking about refined sculpture, highly detailed, highly thought-out pieces of fine art…created by man and machine. That’s using your head my friend.
Even at its finest, creating art can sometimes involve a tedious process or two. I know we’re starting to get more calls from artisans who want to concentrate on other aspects of their dimensional creations, not just standing in front of a jigsaw for hours. Art has always been about using tools. Our tools are just bigger, faster, stronger…they’re bionic! It’s not cheating to use technology to better our craft. CNC milling by definition affords an artist the ability to create perfect parts, if that’s the goal. Heck, we can even create imperfect parts…on purpose. The end result is still the brainchild of the artist, not the tool.
As a for instance, artist Sean Pace asked us to overlay the image of a hand-grenade into this reclaimed artist easel, creating the piece entitled “Old Scratch”. We simply super-sized his drawing capabilities. For such a light touch, it makes a not-so-subtle statement, don’t ya think?
Asheville artist Gene Felice’s show, currently in the Flood Gallery is entitled: A Rapid Progression … a series of Rapid Prototyped sculptures. His organic sculptures were created with a CNC milling process, using prototype technology, but who’s the wiser? It’s just amazing art. In his artist’s statement, Felice comments, “There are…CNC mills which use robotic drill cutters to cut an object out of blocks of solid material like wood, metal or plastic. The accuracy of these different processes just keeps getting better and better, allowing details to the hundredth of a millimeter…artists like myself, are using it to develop new ideas and sculptural forms.”
For fellow artist Sean Buckley, we milled a carefully calculated design into the back of an acrylic mirror as an accompaniment to another of his paintings. The painted image reflects in the mirror and creates another design…a whole other concept. That’s innovation. I’m happy to say that Sean has been working with the UNCA art program to expose students to the possibilities of creating new types of art with technology, including CNC milling.
Call it a collaboration, or don’t. Who cares? What matters is that art is getting made in new and innovative ways. Artists, as always, are rethinking the way they create in an age that can afford them unlimited technological assistance. As CNC jockeys, and artists, we’re proud to be a part of the ever-shifting evolution. Hey, da Vinci would be proud.
With the news in the last few weeks that some friends of ours just made it to Haiti with a school bus full of tools & equipment for the continuing relief effort, I am reminded that there is still so much to do down there, and CNC operations are pitching in.
CNC technology offers a great solution for the housing shortage in these hard-hit areas. For those that aren’t familiar, CNC technology allows the user to program a project (like a shelter), then cost effectively cut it & repeat indefinitely without any variations. In other words, we can crank out some quantity but retain all of the quality. I’ve been seeing more and more relief work done with plywood on a CNC router, and with minimal tooling on site for erecting a structure. I know we’ve even discussed the merits of boxing up the mill itself and taking it on site to relief efforts worldwide to build shelters, schools, churches, clinics, you name it.
Dwell magazine ran an article called “The Big Easy” in February of 2009 touting the efforts of an MIT architecture professor who developed “Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans” with friction-fit components…brilliant!! All you need is a mallet, and you’ve got a house.
I’ve also become a big fan of a group called Shelter 2.0, who has been sending CNC milled shelters in parts to Haiti. Their Facebook update in July read, “Back from Haiti. We couldn’t get to the shelters but we were able to see where the shelters are going and meet the father of the family getting one of the shelters. The other shelter is going to be used as a clinic in a tent city called Canaan.”
I mean, these are by no means mansions, or even long-term housing solutions, but with hurricane season upon us, it’s good to know that there are folks out there who are using these amazing CNC tools for such a noble purpose. So I’m sure you’ll pardon the pun when I say…More power to em!
visit our website at www.acmeindustrialthinking.com