Making A Plaque, with Raised Sculpted Letters

I have always prided myself on being able to make things in Apoxie Sculpt with nice, clean and crisp lines. Now, you can too!

The plaque is going to be 30” wide, by roughly 10” tall. The letters are varying sizes, but fit on an 11”X17” piece of illustration board. I made two prints of the plaque as it should look, they are to scale. One of the prints is printed as a mirror image of the plaque. I’ll explain later as I go along.

I then rollout enough Apoxie Sculpt in order to create the flat surface of the plaque.

I then take my lettering and sticky it to my 4 ply bristol board, and then cut it out. I am making templates of the letters that will be applied to the uncured bronze Apoxie Sculpt. When you run your sculpting tool or X-acto knife around the perimeter of the template, it’s going to drag on the Apoxie Sculpt a little bit, and you’re going to want something substantial to guide the material to the right shape and thickness. I’ll show you how that goes… In order for the rails, and letters to be a uniform thickness, I take pieces of balsa wood, and glue them in place, so that the rolling pin I use, to roll out the Apoxie stays a uniform thickness. The balsa doesn’t get crushed, because the Apoxie rolls out very nicely.

I’ve taken foil tape, applied it to the surface of some shelving board picked up from the hardware store. This ensures that the Apoxie Sculpt will not adhere to this surface. I then took a marker, and drew out the design for the rails that go around the lettering. I glued the balsa wood down, creating troughs for the Apoxie Sculpt to be press formed into.

I have applied Apoxie Sculpt and am pressing it down into the troughs with a metal spatula. For evenness and to drive out any air pockets, I give it multiple passes with the spatula.

After the one side is done, I start the other side. When the other long side is done, I apply Apoxie Sculpt to the two short sides, making troughs for them too. I leave the corners open. When the piece is cured, I can safely cut away the balsa, and then peel away any leftovers in order to bring out the Apoxie Sculpt underneath.

I took some of the balsa spacers, rolled out some more Apoxie cutting it into 1/4” strips. I laid the material into the curved corner markings, and allowed it to cure. They are still rough, but will be filled, and brought level with the rest of the rails.

By making guides for the corners the same height as the rails, this ensures that the corners will be flush when the excess Apoxie is cut away with an Xacto Knife.

I have removed the rails from the foiltape. Sometimes breakage happens. In this case, it was thick enough that it did not. I have to still finish and sand off the corners, and will do so before applying to the face side of the plaque.

After the rails are finished and cured, it’s time to move on to the lettering.

Like the rails before, I have taken foil tape, and applied it to a firm surface. I have measured the width between the two balsa rails in order to make the lettering square, and flush against them, therefore eliminating any sizing problems, or potential skewing that happens during the cutting process.

I apply a layer of Apoxie Sculpt, and roll into place with a rolling pin. When flattened out completely, I allow it to cure for about 30 minutes. I apply the lettering to fit, and then cut away the excess leaving the letters on the foil tape. After they have cured I remove them, clean and sand.

After they have cured, the letters are then peeled away from the foil tape. Just piling the letters up as I go. One letter at a time. After making my lines and marked the lettering for correct spacing, I applied a bit of bronze Apoxie Sculpt to the back of each letter, after pressing into place and checking for height, I clean away the excess, and then brush down the new Apoxie Sculpt with safety solvent for a seamless finish.

I did the large letters first. They were easier to fit, and also set things up for the lower letters in regards to spacing.

All the letters have cured. The surface is pretty uniform save for what little sanding that needs to be done. I also need to run a V-Groover over the two balsa inserts on the border in order to make that divot.

After the letters cured to the surface, I took a vibrating sander, and polished out all the rough spots on the letters, and the border. Then gave it a coat of primer as the base coat of my patina.

When you primer up this material, you can see all the little surface details that I tried to put into this plaque. I imagined what it would be like to cast a bronze relief plaque under the ocean, and wanted it to have the same kind of rawness, and pitted look that a highly saturated salt air environment would give.

The Finished Plaque, and a counterpart made from copper colored foamboard.

The Apoxie Sculpt version (on the bottom) is bigger by about an inch and a half. To me, the weathered bronze-like finish is much more attractive than the slick smooth finish of foamboard. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned some new techniques on working with my favorite medium; Apoxie® Sculpt – more tutorials to come!

Until then – Happy Sculpting!

2 thoughts on “Making A Plaque, with Raised Sculpted Letters

  1. Luke Smith says:

    It’s good to know that you can use Apoxie Sculpt more as a medium for creating plaques. I think that suggesting this to a supplier who can further improve the materials for the plaque will better the output. I’m a new hire at our company, and I was asked to head the recognition part of the Christmas program. So finding a supplier with quick turnaround time and a wide selection of materials will be my best bet.

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