Introduction: *Perfect* Heart on Plexiglass for Covid-19 Community Support
You've probably seen a lot more hearts out there since the pandemic started getting real. They're supposed to be a show of support for the community overall. Some people have more specific reasons.
If you want to make one that really shines, I have a 2 part lesson for you:
- The first part is how to make a perfect heart shape.
- The second part is an easy way to make one on plexiglass.
There's a trick to making a perfect heart shape. I learned this from a cookbook as a child. The recipe was for making a heart shaped cake. It said to get an 9" round cake pan, and a 9" square cake pan.
So, all you need is a perfect circle, and a square with the same length/width as the diameter of the circle.
Let's get started..
- A compass or other way of creating a perfect circle (in the right size).
- Plexiglass sheet with factory protective film
- Spray Paint
- Razor knife (I like the snap-off kind for this). X-acto knife is also a good choice.
- Rigid paper: Construction paper, thin cardboard etc
- A marker (dry erase if you want infinite re-do's)
- Painter's tape or other masking tape
Step 1: Cut the Circle
- Create your perfect circle, and cut it out carefully.
- Find the center point (if you use a compass, you can probably see the pin point)
- Cut the circle precisely in half.
Step 2: Cut the Square
Cut out a square with the same length and width as the diameter of the circle. I drew another circle with the compass, then used a woodworking speed square to find the edges of the circle and draw the cut line.
Step 3: Make Your Heart
Take the two halves of the circle and put them on adjoining sides of the square. There's your heart. Put some tape on it.
My square ended up about 1mm too large. Trimming it was easy. If it were 1mm too small, I would have had to cut a new one, because trimming a circle is nearly impossible.
Step 4: Now the Plexiglass
Get your plexiglass (again.. WITH the factory film still on it). This film is what makes this project easy. It serves as a built-in masking. Of course, you could use window film or some tape, but the factory film is so thin and completely adhered to the surface that it makes a really clean edge.
Place your heart on the plexiglass film and trace it carefully. I really like using a dry erase marker for this. It's easy to do it over if you don't like your first results. Or second.
If you're using a break-off razor knife, now would be a good time to break a section off. It's not critical, but cutting paper can dull a blade. We want this next cut to be sharp.
Step 5: Cut the Factory Film
Carefully cut the inside of your heart tracing. Ideally, you should not cut your marked line.
A few tips:
- You want to do this in very few cuts. Going back and re-cutting a part can make a jagged edge. Go slow enough to be precise, but too slow can make a wobbly cut line.
- When cutting the curve part, it's a perfect circle. That means that you should always be turning your blade as you cut. You might want to practice first. I have made a few of these now and I have gotten better each time.
- Use your template to find where your circle meets the square and make a mark. This will give you the exact place that your line should stop turning and go straight (or vice-versa if you're starting at the bottom). You can use a ruler for the straight part.
- Make sure your cuts intersect. If there is even a tiny gap between them, when you lift the film up (next step), it may pull and may not leave a clean edge.
- Try not to cut into the plexiglass much when cutting, but it's also fine if you do. You really just want to make sure the film is cut completely on the first try. If it isn't cut completely, like step 4, when you peel it up, it may not make a clean masked edge.
Step 6: Peel the Heart Out
In case it's not clear, you want to remove the inner heart that you just cut. Use your razor knife to pull up a tiny edge of one of the cuts, until it's enough to grab (use tweezers or pliers if you want). When you peel, peel towards the center of the heart... away from the nice clean edge that will be left.
The idea is that you want the outer masking to stay adhered to the plexiglass. Be very careful at the points at the top and bottom. Those are the most likely places to not be cut all the way through.
Step 7: Paint Your Heart
If the factory film doesn't reach the edges of the plexiglass, just mask it with painters tape. I did all 4 edges just to make sure no overspray got on the very edge (the sides), but it probably wouldn't matter if it did.
Spray paint your heart. There are plenty of tutorials on how to spray paint. Seek them out if you're a beginner. The most important thing is to not let it run. You don't want a bleeding heart. Two or three light coats is better than one medium coating. I chose "Safety Red Gloss" as my color. You could also use just about any other kind of paint that will stick to plastic, but spray paint looks the best.
I used a latex glove and held it in my hand to spray it. This allowed me to look through the paint job by holding it up to the light. It makes it clear where the paint is light or dark.
I used a hair dryer to speed the drying process so I could do 3 coats quickly.
Step 8: The Reveal
This step is the fun part. If it isn't obvious by now, you're going to pull the rest of the window film off.
One thing I learned by doing this a few times is that the paint on the film is going to flake off as you peel it. It is also statically charged and will want to stick to your nice clean plexiglass. It doesn't come off very easy, either. I found the best way to get rid of anything left is to use making tape.
And it was in this process... about half way though this peel... I realized I could use masking tape on the painted window film to help it not jump onto the plexiglass and stick in the first place.
Get the peel started at the top or bottom near the edge. (Do not start the peel from the inside of the heart.) Once you have the peel started, make a cut so you can work on one side of the heart at a time.
Step 9: Admire Your Work
Just a little cleanup of any remaining static paint and you're finished. Oh, and you'll want to remove the window film on the other side, but see below first.
Tips for placing in a window:
If you want this to be visible from the outside during the day, you should put this on the outside of a window, with the paint side out. If you put it inside it is likely that the glare of your window glass will not allow people to see it very well, if at all (during the day). The same goes for putting it paint side in. The glare from the plexiglass will reduce visibility.
If you want people to see it at night, all you have to do is leave a light on in the room. It should shine through and glow a bit. You can play with lighting to get different levels of glow.
You could also spray paint the back side.. white.. or translucent. It will catch the light differently. You can play with this by spray painting the other side's factory window film. I was going for just a clear background.
I hope you've enjoyed my first ever Instructable.