A stand-in for a cast architectural brass plaque

A conservation organization wished to honour a local citizen for a lifetime of community service in the environment by dedicating a walking trail to him.  A cast architectural  brass plaque was ordered and would be affixed to a large rock at the entrance to the trail.

For the unveiling of the new plaque, the guest of honour and and family members were invited as well as dignitaries for speeches and the press.  Tents and podiums and refreshments were all booked, the press releases has been issued.  Only one problem:  the brass plaque would not be ready for at least a week after the dedication ceremony, and the ceremony is only 72 hours away!  What to do?

A substitute plaque was needed for the unveiling.  Due to the time constraints, there was not a lot of time for experimenting and testing various methods to duplicate the plaque.  The stand-in needed to look like the real plaque from a viewing distance of several feet so the audience and the press could enjoy the unveiling.

Using Vectric’s V-Carve Pro software, the proof provided by the foundry was scanned in and scaled to the 12 inch X 12 inch size of the final plaque. Letters were sized and stretched to fit the final product and the flourish at the bottom was vector traced.  The area around the brushed gold letters was then machined away revealing the black plastic substrate.  Two different tool sizes were used 0.020 and 0.060.  The finer bit was needed to pass through some letter areas such as the top of an ‘a’.  The larger bit was used to clear away the larger areas of the background.  As it turned out the larger bit should have been larger –  it took too long to clear the background in 0.060 passes.  The machining time for the plastic stand-in took nearly six hours to cut!

I only had one piece of the material in stock, which meant that it had to be right the first time.  There was not time to re-order materials nor time to re-cut it.  The resulting plastic plaque was glued to 10mm FoamCore which had been spray painted black.  From a viewing distance of say 10 feet, it made a very respectable imitation!

The speeches were made, the plaque was unveiled, and the dedication ceremony proceeded with out further complications.  Most of all a very dedicated community member was honoured in front of friends and family, and it is satisfying to know that I had a small part to play.

brass proof
Proof image from the foundry
Stand-in plaque
This stand-in for the real brass plaque looks like the real thing when viewed from the audience.
Comparison of Stand In plaque with the final brass version
The stand-in plaque made for the ceremony sitting beside the ‘real’ cast brass plaque which arrived a week after the dedication ceremony. The brass plaque is on the left, the stand-in is on the right. If you were sitting in the audience 20 feet away, could you tell the difference?

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