Hey everybody! Dan from Middle Creek Signs here. I just want to introduce our newest addition to the sign shop. It's a high tech CNC router, and it's awesome!

 A CNC router is really just a big computerized material cutter, and it's the modern tool for making carved/dimensional signs. We can do anything from simple cut-outs, to V-groove lettering, to complex 3D figures and textures. It allows us to build signs in levels, and that's a great way to make them stand out (literally).

We've been offering CNC carved signs for many years, but we outsourced the carving part. Now that we have our own machine, we are able to experiment and push our boundaries. Sometimes we'll get an odd request, or we'll think of something unique while brainstorming. One of us will ask "Can we do that?". So I go fire up the router and try it out, and, lowe and behold, we can! We've actually had the router for about a year now, and we've picked up a ton of new tricks, and are doing much more work in-house.

Check out the examples below, then see more on our Sign Gallery page

Examples

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This dimensional sample includes a textured background, and v-grooved/gilded letter.
It's easy to cut sign panels to custom shapes, and it makes them much more interesting than simple rectangles.
In addition to dimensional lettering and faces, we also used our router to create these decorative posts.
Our router allows us to economically produce large quantities of custom shaped signs.
We also have the ability to design and cut 3D models. This can add a unique touch to dimensional signage.
These letters were cut from colored acrylic. Wall lettering like this has attractive depth and a clean, solid look.

Shade Mountain Winery Project

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The sign panel is v-grooved, cut to shape, then painted. The lettering is gilded with 23K gold leaf.
The second part of the S is done with a special "prismatic" cut. This is also painted and gilded.
The background of the S is printed and applied to a sheet of aluminum composite material, then cut to shape.
Both parts of the "S" are put together to create a cool multi layered logo bug.
all the parts of the sign are attached to both sides of the customers stone structure using a hidden framework. The gold lettering has a very pleasing gleam, especially in the early morning.

Bison

Did you know that we do transparent window graphics?  We don't do them often, but as a full service graphics shop, we have the capability to create many unique projects. Here is a project we recently completed for Bucknell University that challenged us to try something new.

On the second floor of Bucknell's Sojka (basketball) Pavilion, there is an 80 foot row of windows which overlook the Kinney Natatorium. The Bucknell athletics department asked us to design and install a stampede of graphic bison across these windows. The design needed to be continuous across all windows, use the Bucknell colors of blue and orange and tie in with the graphic style of the Bucknell Bison logo.

After some brainstorming, we all agreed that transparent graphics would be the most dramatic. Light would shine through and make the imagery glow; like a stained glass window.

The design process was challenging, production took some very careful planning, and we had to experiment with new materials and techniques with our digital printer, but the Bucknell athletics department is thrilled with the way it turned out. Take a look.

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The most important part of any graphics project is the design. We created stylized running bison, then incorporated them into a stampede layout.
The row of windows is broken up into 10 panels, so we printed the graphics in 10 pieces, each piece lining up with it's neighbor, to show a continuous design.
After being lined up, and tacked in place, each piece of adhesive vinyl film is peeled and applied to the window.
With the right lighting, transparent vinyl graphics display a vibrant glowing effect.
Here you can see the scale of the project. The row of windows is about 80 feet.

As part of a complete image overhaul, the owner of Dead Center Archery came to see us about wrapping his 16 foot concession trailer. Dead Center's marketing director/designer had already created high quality artwork. After swapping some tech specs and sharing some files, we had everything we needed to get started.

After carefully planning and engineering the digital artwork, the design was output on our wide format digital printer. Once the prints were prepped and ready to apply, the trailer was brought to our shop for the final phase. Installing the prints, especially over curved surfaces, can be challenging. By installing in house, we have easy access to the tools and equipment necessary to get the job done right.

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Original artwork concept by Dead Center's designer.
Sections of the graphics are carefully aligned and applied.
Wrapping around attachments like door handles and windows can be tricky. Special attention is needed.
The finished product being delivered to the customer.

Since our last blog post we've produced our first commissioned sculpted sign. Mike and Lois Purcell, owners of the Bull Run Tap House in downtown Lewisburg originally contacted us with a request for a new wooden entrance sign. Like many of our projects, the process evolved from there.

We don't work with wood; instead we use more stable, long-lasting materials. As we explored the options with our clients, a custom sculpted sign piqued their interest, and they visited the MCS office to get a first-hand look at ours.

The project was a go. We started by designing a new logo (right), then moved onto the sign fabrication and installation. A blend of high-tech materials and old-world craftsmanship, sculpted signs are very labor intensive. But the results speak for themselves -- Mike and Lois report their new sign has gotten lots of attention and compliments.

Click on the images below for a brief tutorial of their project, and please contact us with any questions or comments, or to discuss your new custom sign (sculpted or not).

Two-part epoxy - applied over the high density urethane (HDU) base and welded steel substrate
Trish completes the final 3-D sculpting process
The bull sculpture is complete, ready for paint and assembly
A three-layer glazing technique finishes the painting phase
Doug uses a "mahlstick" - a centuries-old hand-painting technique - to outline the lettering
The finished sculpture is attached to the substrate
Up a ladder after installation, the Middle Creek craftsmen stand proud of their accomplishment
The clients report that they're "thrilled" with their new sign...we are too!

Ever been to one of the Disney theme parks and notice the incredibly imaginative, attention-getting three-dimensional signage? Even if you haven't, we hope you'll enjoy learning a little about sculptured signs, how they're made, and the world of possibilities they offer your business or organization.

This creative technique typically combines a fabricated metal framework with sculpted concrete, CNC carving and sculpted clay to create unlimited three-dimensional effects.

MCS now offers this exciting technology. Our first sculptural sign is now located at the entrance of our lane. Click on thumbnail images below to view full slides and process descriptions.

This free-form media is a unique way to generate tremendous visual impact and stand out from the crowd. Indoors or out, your sculpted sign will be a treasured landmark. Contact us for more information!

INSPIRATION - Sometimes a good point of reference is helpful; in this case, we were inspired by a natural rock formation at nearby Tall Timbers Natural Area in Troxelville.
CONCEPTUAL DRAWING - Next, a conceptual drawing of the finished product is rendered.
STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY - For this large landmark sign, a steel sub-structure is assembled and wrapped in wire lath.
STRUCTURAL FORMATION - CNC-routed lettering is applied, and structural concrete is added to the frame.
SCULPTING - The concrete face is carefully sculpted.
PAINTING & FAUX FINISHES - Letters are painted and the concrete gets a face-lift. The rock formation begins to look real.
INSTALLATION - The entrance landmark is installed.
FINISHED SIGN - We later added some decorative landscaping and the end result "rocks!"