Monday, 29 September 2014

More Signwriting - Superhero Backdrop.

A short while ago at a recent Outcast VW Club meeting I got chatting to a fellow club member, Steve Cook who owns a photographic company called 'Swale Photography'. 
Steve was saying that he was attending a superhero convention and that he would like a backdrop for members of the public to stand in front of while they have their photo taken. Steve asked if I could produce something to help him out, and of course I said I could. We discussed what sort of design he wanted on the backdrop and Steve said he would like to have superhero 'action words' such as, KAPOW and UGGH!. Steve asked if I could produce the backdrop with the action words around the outside so that when a person, or a couple stood in front of the backdrop, (usually in some sort of superhero costume) the action words could still be seen. We also discussed what he would like the backdrop to be made out of, and I said that I had some 3 foot x 2 foot white foam boards in stock, which would be ideal as they are lightweight and easy to transport around. Steve asked if I could produce a backdrop using 4 boards, so that the backdrop would be approximately 6 foot x 4 foot, but they would need to be separate and it would be have to be able to fix together quite easily once Steve got to the superhero venue, as he hasn't got room to transport a 6' x 4' sheet of foam board. You can check out Swale Photography face book page here:!/pages/Swale-Photography/541550572560994

Steve gave me a very detailed drawing, to scale
which showed the layout of the 'action words'
on the backdrop..! Seriously though, although
this scribbled drawing was his design, Steve did
explain in detail what he was looking for, so there
wasn't really any need for a drawing.

Foam board is an excellent product that I like
to work with. It is 33" x 24", lightweight and
durable, and ideal for numerous projects such
temporary as signs.

Steve supplied a list of 14 'action words' that
he would like applied to the board. I always
like to draw the word in pencil before I start
painting. This is so I can make sure everything
looks OK and also make sure the positioning
of the word is where I want it to be before the 
paint starts to go on.

Before drawing each action word, I thought 
about how each particular word sounded and
how that sound would look. For example 'Zap'
is a short sharp sounding word, therefore I
imagined it to look bold, and easy to read.
Here the first coat of acrylic has gone on,
the only drawback with using foam board is
that if your using acrylic paint then every word 
will need 2 coats.

The first of 14 action words finished. When
deciding what colours to use on the back drop,
I decided to keep it simple and only use 4
different colours, red, blue, green and gold.

Remember I was talking about how I imagined
the sounds of words would look, and I said
that 'zap' sounded a short bold word, where as
 'swoosh' sounded like a long sweeping word.

The 3rd word drawn out and painted. On the
drawing Steve provided he had 3 words on
top left board, and 4 words on the top right
hand board. I thought as most photo's will
have the head and shoulders of the person
or couple in line with the top boards, this is
where I thought the most action words
should be.

The top left hand board is finished. Spacing of
the words on the first board is always tricky as
you have nothing to relate to, no other wording
to gauge where the words would look best,
however I'm quite pleased with the outcome.

After several more evenings of drawing and
painting, the top right hand board was finished.

Both top boards placed together so I can get
a look at what it looks like so far. I think the
words are spaced out enough to allow a person
or couple to stand in front so that the action words
should still be able to seen.

Starting the bottom right hand board, you can
see how opaque the acrylic is, as it goes onto
the foam board. Each word needed 2 coats,
which was very time consuming.

The bottom right hand board finished. I think
using just the four colours works well on this

Again, once the 3rd board was finished and
had dried, a quick mock up on the floor just
to see what it looks like. I'm liking it so far.
I think the different font styles suit this super-
hero backdrop perfectly, it looks as though
it could have come straight out of an early
Marvel comic.

Pencil drawing on the last board. Once I was
happy with the outline and position of the word
it would be time, once again to start painting.

By drawing the words out in pencil before I
start to paint, and as every word needed two
coats of acrylic paint it was a very time
consuming project, but still enjoyable.

Final mock up of the four boards. All I have to
do now is figure out some way of fixing all the
boards together. Steve will need to transport
the boards separately as he doesn't have a
lot of space. So whatever way of joining the
boards I decide upon needs to be simple
enough to easily put together at the super-
hero event.

I had several attempts in joining the boards,
including, velcro. hinges and picture hooks
but they all left a gap of 2-3mm between the
boards, which looked terrible. After a few
day's thinking about the problem I decided
I needed some 'H' trim in white plastic (to
match the board) with 6mm channels so the
 board could slip into the 'H' trim and be held
secure. Only one problem, does such a thing
exist? If so, where do I get it from? After
visiting numerous D.I.Y. stores all I could find
was this white trim. It's not quite what I was
looking for as the back support was not as high
as the front, meaning the support on the short
side would not be as good as the high side.

The back of the back drop doesn't look very
pretty but then this side isn't going to be seen.
I used 'gaffer' tape to hold the board in the
plastic channel. I will secure 3 of the 4 plastic
channels so Steve can transport the boards
easily. All he needs to do then is insert the
boards into the channels and tape them up.
The 4th piece of channel (top middle) will
simply slide into position after all the other
3 boards are in place.

Talking to Steve, he didn't know if he had a
wall to hang the backdrop on, so I decided
to tape these picture hooks on the back.
That way, if he has a wall he can use drawing
pins to hang the backdrop, or if not he could
feed some string through the picture hooks
and hang the backdrop from somewhere.
The foam board is so light, using gaffer tape
will easily be enough to hold the weight.

How the finished back drop looks. The white
plastic trim is not quite the same colour as
the board, but then again there will be a person
or a couple standing in front so most of the trim
will not be seen.  The only thing I'm not happy
with is the plastic trim, as it more of a 'T' shape
rather than an 'H' there is not as much support
on the front of the board. This means the top
boards lean forward slightly, although this small
problem shouldn't matter as I assume Steve will
be taking photo's from straight on, in front of the
back drop so this shouldn't be seen.

So that was my latest project. Overall a very
enjoyable piece of work although it was quite
time consuming. I hope Steve likes it and hope
that it generates Steve plenty of work by the
public having their photo taken standing
in front of the backdrop.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

40,000 views of this blog.!

On June 24th this year I proudly announced that my VW related blog had reached an incredible 30,000 views. Exactly 3 months later to the day, the blog has 40,008 views !! That is a mind blowing 10,000 views in just 3 months... average 3000 views a month. A massive thank you to everyone across the world who has took the time to visit my humble blog about my travels, the places I go and the people I meet in my 1969 VW microbus.

40,008 views... WOW.  Thank you so much.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Ace Cafe - London, Monthly Air-Cooled Meeting

The Ace Cafe London is a former transport cafe in Stonebridge, north west London, England, which has been extensively redeveloped becoming a functions and entertainment venue. The Ace was opened in 1938 to accommodate traffic on the new North Circular Road. Because the cafe was open 24 hours a day, it started to attract motorcyclists. It became popular with the Ton Up Boys in the 1950s and the Rockers in the 1960s. The cafe was rebuilt in 1949 after being destroyed in a World War II air raid. The building is close to the Willesden railway marshalling yard, target of the raid. Events in the post-war environment made the Ace a success: the emergence of the teenager; increase in traffic; and the British motorcycle industry at its peak. Many young people started to meet at the cafe with their motorcycles and listen to rock'n'roll. Many bands and motorcycle enthusiast groups formed there. Today the Ace Cafe still attracts bikers, but the current owner Mark Wilsmore caters for many varied tastes and there is something going on every night of the week. From Hot Rods to Harley's, Kit Cars to Classics and of course air-cooled VW's. Check out the Ace Café website for more information on whats happening, and when:
The third Tuesday of each month is the air-cooled VW night, so I arranged to meet Kevin and Sam, both fellow Outcast VW Club members and have a drive into the outskirts of London. Kevin and Sam went in Kevin's Beetle trial and I took my 1969 bay window.
As you enter the Ace car park you are directed
where to park depending on what vehicle you
are driving. Once parked up I made my way to
the Beetle line up and this lovely blue '72 Bug
was parked up right outside the entrance door
to the cafe.

OK, I know it's not a Beetle but this striking
'Help for Hero's' beach buggy was parked up
in the Beetle line up. This vehicle is used to
collect donations for our injured troops, a well
deserved cause so if you see this Buggy out
and about, please give generously.

Another 1972 Beetle only this one was covered
in rust. I think it is the new brush on chemical
you can buy that oxidises when it cures. What
ever it was it does look good. Those red steel
wheels with the whitewall tyres are in stark
contrast to the body work.

The photo's do not really show how realistic
the rust was.

Here is a Bug I recognise, it belongs to a guy
called Dean who is a member of the Wolfsburg
Weed Huggers VW club. Dean's Beetle is very
low and very RAT. Just how a Bug should be.

This lovely 1972 Beetle finished in silver was
immaculate. This really was a nice clean Bug
with a nice coat of paint that shows off the super
straight bodywork.

This gorgeous 1964 Beetle is a regular at the
Ace. This really is a sweet looking Bug with
the single grey paintwork and the banded
steel wheels painted white. This Beetle always
looks immaculate and it's always a pleasure
to see it.

A 1969 Karmann Ghia finished off with a
lovely coat of light grey gloss paint that I
haven't seen at the Ace before. This KG was
sitting very low and looked fantastic.

There really is something about the shape of
an KG that looks so good. This one looks as
though it has had a restoration as it was in
such good condition.

If you like your Beetle's looking RAT, then this
is for you. This 1964 Bug was super low with
a narrowed front beam. The overall look was
definitely RAT and most of the bodywork
even has real holes with real rust.

Driving into London on the A40 Western
Avenue heading for the Ace, travelling at about
50mph this '71 Bug came screaming past Kevin
and I like we were standing still. It was immaculate
and finished in a nice shade of beige. I did like
the 'centerline' look wheels.

Running on oversize rear tyres, with the deck
lid away from the body and that performance
exhaust this Bug was running a big motor. I
did like how the owner had left the '1200' script
badge on the deck lid.

A nice photo of Kevin's trial Beetle in the Ace
Cafe corner. Kevin and Sam both went off road
trialing last week and having seen some of their
photo's of the event, it looks great fun.

Moving onto the bus line up I noticed this lovely
1975 late bay with a pop top finished in white
over bright orange. This bay was riding at
standard height, and I kind of like buses riding
at stock height. They must be much more
practicable than a lowered bus.

My 1969 microbus parked up in the Ace Cafe
car park. Autumn is on it's way and the nights
are drawing in, which means it's almost dark
by 8.00pm and it's only September!

A nice photo of the front end of my bay with
the Ace Cafe in the background with the sun
having just set over North West London.

This chocolate brown T25 belongs to a guy
called Carlo ( I think) who is another regular
at the Ace Cafe.

This is Darren's 1965 split screen, one of many
air cooled VW's that Darren owns. Darren
came along with Carlo and both are members
of The Welwyn Garden City VW Club. This is
a really nice bus that just looks right.

A photo of Darren's splitty in the Ace Car park.
The street lights illuminating Darren's bus just
enough for a photo shoot.

Moving along the bus line up, next was this
1975 late bay with pop top finished in white
over blue. I have to admit I'm not normally
that keen on the spare wheel mounted on the
front panel, but this had a cool chequered
wheel cover which looked good.

Another white over blue late bay with a pop
top, only this one was of 1972 vintage. Both
the late bays were riding close to stock height,
maybe this is going to be the next 'in' thing?.

Would you believe it, yet another blue and
white late bay with a pop top. OK this 1977
one was pastel blue, but that's still blue right?
So we have 3 white over blue late bays, all
with pop tops and all different years and
yet all so different in style from the last.
That's what I like about the VW scene,
never two VW's alike.

A pair of late comers were these two, firstly
a super straight 1969 square back finished in
an ivory white, with Porsche wheels. This really
 was so clean and tidy. I loved the blinds in
the rear windows.

Those Porsche wheels on a narrowed front
beam make this square back stand out.

And secondly parked alongside the square-
back was this similar coloured 1963 notch back.
This 'notch' was in equally as nice condition as
the square.

This awesome looking 'Wizard' Beetle arrived
whilst Kevin, Sam and I were in the Cafe having
a bit to eat. It looks like a wizard body kit and
painted in black with candy red metal flake

Whilst this is not to everyone's taste, I loved
it. Maybe my hot rod past was kicking in...

The interior was as radical as the outside with
a billet alloy centre piece to hold the clocks.
A bright red steering with matching high back
seats and door cards.

 A close up of the metal flake flames, awesome
paintwork from a very talented sprayer.

Small details like colour coded wing piping to
match the flames add to this car unique style.

So that was the September VW meet at the
world famous Ace Cafe. Overall an enjoyable
evening with Kevin and Sam, shame we got
there so late, but my work commitments
always seem to get in the way!. As usual there
was a good selection of air cooled VW's on
show. The food and drink was also as good
as usual so if you're passing the Ace Cafe
on the 3rd Tuesday of October, maybe I'll
see you there.