Making a Dimensional Crab Sign

This little video takes you through the process of making a fully three-dimensional sculpted crab, from laminating the substrate all the way through to photographing the finished sign.

Most of the steps are pretty self-explanatory, which is why the video has no speaking, but in case you do want to know a little more of the nitty-gritty of the process involved, here it is:

Sanding the PVC

Our sign-panels are made of SignFoam 3, laminated to foam PVC, and the crab was no exception. First, we sanded the PVC thoroughly, to make sure the adhesive would stick well.

Unrolling Double-Stick Tape

Trimming double-stick tape

After applying the tape, the edges had to be trimmed. If you forget this step, the extra tape will stick itself everywhere! This shot has a title overlay, but hopefully you didn’t get too distracted.

Hand-Drawn Video Titles

Speaking of titles, I drew them up very quickly with a sharpie pen. With the help of Photoshop, I reversed the colour and removed the background to make a handcrafted title, suitable for a slightly industrial ‘maker video’.

Peeling the Paper off the Double-Stick Tape

Next, we peeled off the paper.

Sticking the PVC to the HDU

…and carefully stuck the two materials together.

Adjusting the Pinch Roller Width

This little crank on top adjusts the width between the two rollers, on our pinch-roller.

Pinch-Rolling the Sign Panel

Here, we’re pinching the laminated panel together. Sorry if this confused you. This was actually the first pass through the roller. That’s why there are only two layers, not three. So, technically, this shot should have come earlier in the piece. Oh well, it looked nice where it was.

Laying Carbon Paper onto the Sign Panel

Now, the panel is all laminated. Nancy is laying carbon paper down, so she can trace the shape of the artwork onto the panel.


Cutting out the Sign shape on the Bandsaw

Cutting out the crab, on the bandsaw.

Cutting out a large Crab on a Bandsaw

This took a while.

Routing the HDU

To save time with the hammer and gouge, we used a hand-held router to hog away some of the SignFoam on the thinner areas of the sign, such as the crab’s legs.

Drawing Guidelines for Sculpting

Drawing a few lines on, for sculpting.

The Sculpting Process

The sculpting was all done by hand, both with and without the use of a rubber mallet.

Sanding the Crab Smooth

After all the gouge work was finished, the crab needed to be sanded.

Sanding a Crab Sculpture Smooth

Nearly finished now!

Moving the Crab to the Painting Table

In this shot, the author carries the crab to the painting table.

A Coat of Primer

Nancy applies a generous coat of primer.

Painting the dark Undercoat

Followed by a dark undercoat

Painting a Lighter Blue

…and then a lighter one.

Starting in with the Artist Acrylic

And finally, the artist acrylics.

Affixing Hanging Hardware

Screwing in the stainless steel hanging hardware

Taking a Photo

Joe takes a photo of the finished crab.

A Sunset behind the Workshop

And, of course, every good video has to end with a sunset. Here’s one behind our shop.

Closing Title

And that’s it!

(Note: This video was made about a month ago. In the meantime we’ve done another one, called Making a Handcrafted Sign. At some stage, I’ll do a blog post about that one too, but until then, you can watch it on on YouTube, our videos page, or a french design blog called Aether Concept)

2 thoughts on “Making a Dimensional Crab Sign

  1. Thanks, Tony. Glad you enjoyed it. We have another video underway. Still looking forward to seeing the clip of your Lewis & Skinner Sign in Melbourne.

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