Introduction: A Big, Luxurious Marquee Sign

Picture of A Big, Luxurious Marquee Sign

Have you ever wanted to feel luxurious? Do you like gold? Do you want to make a big sign? If so, you've come to the right place!

My burning man camp wanted a large, lit sign to announce our presence on the playa and attract burners to use our services: fake tattooing and bedazzling.

Here's how it was made...

Step 1: Designing a Most Luxurious Sign

Picture of Designing a Most Luxurious Sign

Who are we? We are the most luxurious, fake-tattooing and bedazzling camp on the Playa: the Luxurious Vagrants. Colloquially known as Lux Vag.

To draw people into Lux Vag, we wanted to create a giant, luxurious sign. From the beginning, we liked the idea of a making a western-styled marquee sign with Globe lights attached.

We first picked out a font: Cg Davison Americana, a slick, Western-looking font.

I then loaded the font into Adobe Illustrator and exported vector files for each letter in "LUX VAG".

I brought the vectors into Rhinoceros and designed the sign.

I wanted the sign to be:

  • Grand and luxurious. I made the letters as big as possible - the main constraint was the waterjet bed (4' x 8').
  • Portable. It had to fit into the truck.
  • Stable. The sign has to withstand the Playa's wind.
  • Easy to assemble on site using hand tools.

So, I added these features:

  • Flat packing - all the letters and supports are flat sheets of material that are assembled on site.
  • A back support piece that props the letter at a slight angle, such that it's not perfectly vertical and wants to lean back.
  • Notches for candy-caned rebar to hook over the sign; the rebar is then pounded into the ground, securing the letters.
  • Holes for the globe lights to stick from the back and using zip ties to attach them to the letter

Step 2: Materials, Parts, Tools

Picture of Materials, Parts, Tools

Materials:

3 - 4' x 8' sheets of 0.75" Melamine

6 - Globe lights (one for each letter)

18 - 2' length, 1/2" diameter pre-cut rebar

Several cans of gold spray paint

1-1/2" brass wood screws

Extension cord

Tools:

Omax WaterJet

Hand drill

Hammer

Step 3: Waterjet Test Cuts on Melamine

Picture of Waterjet Test Cuts on Melamine

First, I had to figure out what settings to use on the Omax to cut Melamine.

Melamine is a laminate material -- which is not easy to cut with a waterjet. The waterjet pierce has a tendency to crack the laminate on the underside of the cut. I did a few test cuts with 3 different qualities (1, 2 and 3 - as set in Omax Layout). The results can be seen in the attached images, I ended up using Quality 3. In Omax Make, I set the material as Plywood (Machinability 3200), which seemed to work well.

In retrospect, I should have cut this using the large Shopbot Router at the Pier. It has nearly the same bed size as the Omax and it's cheaper to operate.

Step 4: Waterjet Cutting the Letters and Supports

Picture of Waterjet Cutting the Letters and Supports

Then I waterjet all the letters!

The most challenging part was loading the material onto the waterjet. It's at least a two person job.

I also didn't add tabs to the globe letter cutouts... this wasn't a problem, but in the future I would definitely add them in Omax Layout.

Step 5: Making It Luxurious

Picture of Making It Luxurious

It doesn't get more luxurious than Metallic Gold Paint.

We did 2 coats on all the letters and 1 coat on the supports

Step 6: Candycane-ing Rebar

Picture of Candycane-ing Rebar

Better to do this in advance than on the playa.

I used two steel pipes to create enough leverage to bend the rebar. I bent each rebar piece about 4-5 inches from one end

Step 7: Installing the Globe Lights

Picture of Installing the Globe Lights

We installed the globe light strands into the letters using zip ties prior to leaving for the Playa. We transported the lights without the bulbs in their sockets

Step 8: Installing!

Picture of Installing!

We then brought everything to the Playa and assembled it.

Step 9: Enjoy!

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See ya next year on the Playa!

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