For this challenge I wanted to do a 3’ x 3’ piece, but made of separate components that I could attach to a felt covered backer board and hang on the wall. My subject thought was a ‘Galaxy’. So I searched the Add Artwork for Galaxy and selected the one shown below. There are two versions of this graphic available, one is a standard jpg/png that would only allow you to engrave the elements. The other one is (basically) an SVG where the individual items are separate pieces, so that’s the one I used.
I sized it to 36” wide which changed the height to 32”, perfect. I exported it so I could bring it in to another program and print it ‘tiled’ at full size to use as a template, and make sure I liked the proportions. The design is simple enough I didn’t need to cut out the template, but I had the paper full size version anyway so might as well.
I really wanted this to be oak and maple, but, I also wanted them to ‘glow’ when the lights were turned off. I tried two different kinds of glow paint, and only one I found satisfactory, but when applied to the wood it didn’t glow at all on the oak, and looked blotchy and lousy on the maple in regular light.
So I just decided to go with Medium Draftboard. I then made four copies of the project in the dashboard and Tetrised the pieces as tight as I could get them onto separate sheets. I probably could have fit them onto three by really efforting the Tetris work, but I had already spent sooooo much time testing paint and wood, that I just needed to make real progress and went with four sheets. First batch cut and ready for paint.
I also tried numerous paint colors, but applying the glow paint over dark paints just wouldn’t glow. Likewise, trying the glow paint on ‘glossy’ paint also looked blotchy and not very good. So I decided to go with just white matte primer and then 5 different light pastel colors in matte and satin. So it definitely looks like a ‘kids room’ piece, but that’s fine, I’m really only doing it to test the glow paint concept.
So on the ‘Saturn’ element, I had to modify the graphic to make it three pieces. After some head scratching, I added a circle around the planet section, which filled in the ‘gap’ on either side between the top and bottom half of the planet below the ring. I then added a .00” outline around the pieces and then deleted the circle. So most of the graphic outline would get cut twice, but that’s fine.
On to paint, and more paint, and clear coat. Two coats of the base ‘color’ paints, then two coats of the glow paint, then two coats of clear coat. Ya, that took forever…. Surprisingly, the clear coat doesn’t diminish the brightness of the glow paint, who would have guessed. For the glow paint, I came up with new terminology in figuring out how much to spray onto the wood. You want a ‘flood, but not a river.’ And as always, shake well.
For attaching the pieces to the felt backer, I decided to just go with Velcro cut into little ¼” by about ½” pieces - and with 3 or 4 per piece it was more than plenty of holding strength to keep them on felt. I wasn’t too precise about cleaning up the wood edges, I just brushed lightly with a red scotch brite and left it at that. I also left the masking on the back, because I’m lazy. (Shown is just a test piece)
And here it is. I have to say this project exceeded my expectations. It looks like something someone would actually pay money for. HA!
And yes, it totally glows in the dark!
On a side note – I really enjoy the ‘artwork’ created by the overspray on my projects, which is why I usually use canvas. But on this project I needed a large flat surface for all the pieces to fit on at once, and I had a 2’ x 4’ section of cardboard laying around so I used that. When the piece was all done, I switched off the lights in the garage and boom!
I really enjoy the actual piece, which I’ll give away, but this overspray mess is probably the coolest thing I’ve made so far, it’s mesmerizing, and will find a place on a wall in my garage for sure. And no, it’s not a blurry pic, between each coat of glow paint I shifted the pieces slightly so they didn’t stick to the cardboard.
Hope you enjoyed the write up!