DIY Portable Expedition Flag

Introduction: DIY Portable Expedition Flag

Every feat of major exploration has had a flag planting.

Left to right: James Cameron while on the expedition with his submersible Deepsea Challenger at the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep March 2012; Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his companions saluting the Norwegian flag at the South Pole on 16 December 1911; Armstrong at the moon landing sound-stage in Hollywood CA in the mid-sixties; New York Explorer's club members somewhere presumably cold and Sherpa guided.

OpenExplorer should be no different. This instructable will show you how to create your own portable, lightweight expedition flag.

You will need:

  1. a blank nylon flag [from]
  2. some adhesive backed vinyl material
  3. fabric paint or silkscreening ink
  4. painter's tape
  5. some newspaper or cardboard
  6. exacto knife or scissors
  7. printer or vinyl cutter
  8. unwavering courage in the face of the unknown
  9. a change of socks

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Step 1: Pick a Logo or Flag Design

Get your design. This was easy for me since I stole it from the OpenExplorer website. For inspiration check out the wonderful collections of adventuring flags out there.

The design should be in vector format. Be mindful that there are not too many small pieces or tiny lettering that could get lost. Big and simple is easier than small and complex.

Step 2: Create the Paint Mask

We will be creating a paint mask using adhesive backed vinyl and a vinyl cutting machine. If you don't have access to one of these machines check your local signmaker or copy shop, they often have these machines. Barring that you can handcut these using printed paper then cutting out the design and tracing the outline. The latter is not covered in this instructable. Nor is usage of the vinyl cutter. We're focusing on the flag.

I cut the circle with "open" separate from "explorer" for ease of transfer but that isn't entirely necessary.

Step 3: Prepare the Work Surface

I put down some paper and taped it to the edge. This prevents bleeding from the material.

I then taped the flag on top of that. For best results use painter's tape or something else that comes up easily.

Additionally you may want to iron the flag so that any wrinkles or folding marks are gone. This wasn't really possible for me since I couldn't be bothered to find an clothes iron, but I would do it next time.

Step 4: Place the Paint Mask

This is the trickiest and most important part. Stay frosty.

Peel up the areas of the vinyl that you would want to be painted if it were on the flag. Remember we are transferring the mask onto the flag so that we get paint exactly where we want without having to go within the lines.

Then CAREFULLY peel up the parts we want to keep (the non-painted areas of the flag). Keep the edges from sticking to themselves. This really helps to have a second person to help you. I used some more painter's tape to keep the design centered and square (straight).

Check out the pictures for the layout. Notice I didn't keep ALL of the vinyl material around the letters and logo, this would have made it very difficult to apply to the flag without sticking all over itself...which is a sad situation.

Step 5: Now Paint!

Very gently check to make sure all the edges are down on the masking. This keeps paint from bleeding under the mask or where there is a wrinkle. You can use a hobby knife to cut out the wrinkles if necessary but enough squeezing should do well.

You can use more painter's tape to mask off other areas if you are worried about your in-the-lines skill.

Next paint the logo! The best painting job is even, short strokes with less paint to get it into the fabric but not leave lines or clumps. I like to be able to see the texture of the fabric beneath.

Step 6: Let Dry and Remove Masking

Let the paint dry completely and then you can remove the backing. Some of the paint may still be wet, so it's best to assume that and move carefully

Step 7: Attach the Flag to a Pole

As a pole I used an old backpacking tent pole. This lightweight and strong aluminum poles also fold up so that I can take my flag with me on expeditions without much trouble at all.

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