Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fun with Dibond and Plexiglas

For our exhibit "Mediterranean Treasures" we had the challenge of displaying many small objects that required specific lighting for them to be meaningful to the visitor - coins, small sculptures and examples of cuneiform writing.

We decided that we could re-purpose our biggest cases for our smallest items.  We would do this by producing a large piece of case furniture (affectionately called a "doghouse")to raise the deck level.  Above this arrangement we would integrate an LED lighting system that was up to the task. (None of the objects in these cases are "friable," so light damage was not a concern.)

We decided to use a material called "Dibond" - a sheet of polyethylene sandwiched between 2 sheets of 0.012" powder-coated aluminum.  It is lighter and more rigid than acrylic sheet, and comparable in cost.  The most intriguing aspect of this material is how it can be easily bent by V grooving along the desired brake line.  The sheets cut easily with an 1/ 8" up-cut bit at 18K RPM.  The finished unit is held together with a few strips of 3M VHB tape.


We also used ivory colored acrylic sheet to great effect in this exhibit.  This case furniture was created using a simple egg-crate design, which is reminiscent of the region's columnar architecture.  When the exhibit is over, these disassemble to store flat.

In the case of this urn for storing cremains, we used a solvent based cement to joint the panels.  During the assebly process we placed 200 lbs. of lead bricks on the platform.  I am sure it would have taken more.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Scarfs Up!

The elusive wavy stepped scarf joint. Ever since I was at my first Makers Faire and witnessed this technique, I have been dying to give it a whirl. Until now there has not been a need.

It took us several iterations to get it right, and we learned quite a bit in the process.

To lazy to list all of that here. If you're interested, give me a shout and I'll talk you through it.

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Window Dressing.

Every Spring the museum hosts the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair (ONAYLF) as part of its ongoing commitment to the use and preservation of Native American languages. A component of this event is a poster contest that features work of students from around the country.

The yearly challenge for our department is to have all of the pieces on display and properly labeled by the events opening at 8am on Monday morning. Another difficulty for us is that the event is growing while our available space for the display dwindles due to our expansion of permanent exhibits.

Our solution was to create reusable mats for the works that can be placed in the windows of the museum's rotunda. Since the contest's format remains consistent from year to year, we were able to standardize the displays to facilitate the mounting of the works and their object labels.

The panels are made from 1/8" Sintra. White was used against the window to reflect sunlight and reduce warpage. Black on the face to create the mat spaces and to allow us to incorporate the curved design element at the top of each panel. The layers are adhered using double-sided Nitto-Denko No. 512 low VOC tape.

On the Friday prior to the fair we place the works in the mats spaces, adhere the object labels (printed ahead of time to re-positionable label stock) and place them on a panel cart. At that time we also apply 3M Command double-stick tape to the back of each panel to speed up the next phase of the process.

Come Monday morning we roll the whole lot into the Rotunda, peel off the tape backing, and place them on the sills. High-fives all around. Commence eating doughnuts.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Games for Egg Hunt at the Sam Noble

Made these items for the "Eggstravaganza" event at the Sam Noble Museum. A Pentaceratops ring-toss and a Saurophaganax bean -bag game.

Both are cut from 1/2" MDF. The black lines are accomplished with V-carves, the grooves the filled with black latex spray paint. Then the background coat was laid down with a large short-napped roller. The body and horns of the Penta have lines both sides - learned some registration lessons there. Next time I'll use some pins.

Due to the 40 MPH winds the Penta had to be held to the ground with some auger and rope. It wiggled a bit, but was otherwise fine.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010


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Big Plex.

For our current exhibit Stories in Fiber and Clay, we had to devise an object mount to support some large platter-style baskets in one of our existing garment cases.

I devised a system where a curved panel could be placed in the case diagonally. The curve is not only aesthetic, but adds to the stability of the unit as well.

Since I wanted this to be reusable, it needed a system to attach the object mount without drill holes in the panel. I added a series of 3" wide slots along each of the flanges, so a strip of plex could be placed where needed. The strips are expendable, leaving the panel free from invasive work.

The large panels was no problem for our vacuum to hold. The flanges however, had to be held with double-stick tape. I cut a 1/4" wide by 1/8" deep groove in the spoilboard on the inside and the outside of the part outline. Its purpose was two-fold - it served to aid in tape placement and provided a space to insert a screwdriver to pry the parts off the table without damage.

Next post I'll show the finished product.

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