Do you guys like How It’s Made on the Science Channel? We pretty much love it. It’s so mesmerizing to watch how they make hot tubs or sousaphones or tiny paper umbrellas. Since we were creating an all new design for the 2013 Holiday Season (these adorable Electric Pandas) we thought we would do a special Red Rocket Farm version of a How It’s Made episode just for you guys. Are you excited? BECAUSE I’M EXCITED.
Okay, here we go. It all starts with Jason creating the design. He spends hours making sure the panda has just the right cute-but-dead-behind-the-eyes stare, dangly stub arms, and a paunchy little body. One cup of cute, one cup of sad.
Then he separates each color into different images, then changes them all to opaque black. This is called, “color separation”. The separations are then printed out onto transparent film.
A transparency is then placed on a silk-screen with a layer of light-sensitive goop (technical term) spread on it. We hit the screen with a bunch of UV light from a neato piece of equipment called an “exposure unit.” The light hits the goop where the transparency is clear, hardening it. The parts of the screen that are behind the black parts of the transparency remain…well…goopy.
We take a pressure washer (while pretending its a Proton Pack) and wash out all the unexposed goop. We end up with a negative image of the transparency. IT’S SCIENCE! We have to make a separate screen for every color, and the images have to be in about the same place on every one. That will make our next step a lot easier.
Once the screens are ready, we line them up on the table and get ready to print. We print on boards of wood that we place on the table on pegs so they stay still. One board is set aside with a transparency taped to it. This allows us to line each screen up to that board (in the screen printing world, this is called “registration”). That way, each screen comes down in exactly the same place and the images all line up with each other.
Once a screen is registered, we fill it with paint and begin printing on each board. If we’ve done it just right, each color lines up perfectly with the color before it.
The last layer is almost always the black outline. This is always the most exciting color because it ties the whole thing together. It makes such a huge difference, and the role of printer is always an enviable one when it comes to the final color.
When all the colors are printed, the boards are set aside to fully dry before they are cut down.
Each and every Electric Panda (or robot, octopus, cloud or space cat) has to be cut out by hand on a scroll saw. The boards are cut down to manageable tiles on a table saw, and the tiles are placed on the shelf, ready to be scroll sawed.
Scroll sawing out each Electric Panda takes quite a long time, and you must be very careful to stay right on the black outline. It’s difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, scroll sawing is a very Zen-like job. We’ll even put on West Wing or Star Trek while we scroll saw. Just don’t look up (no matter how interesting that Gorn fight might be) or the blade could slip.
Once the Electric Pandas are cut out, the edges are painted black, and a similarly edged wooden spacer is glued to the back.
While the wood glue dries on the foreground, it’s time to make the backgrounds. “It’s time to make the backgrounds” is actually what Maia says every morning when she wakes up. These backgrounds begin with a couple of layers of airbrushing.
After airbrushing, we screen print the circuit board pattern onto the background.
Screen printing ensures the image will be nice and crisp. The circuit board pattern ensures that the painting will look CRAZY-TECHNO-AWESOME.
For our larger paintings, we always like to add an additional 3D effect. For our large Electric Pandas, this comes in the form of blue and yellow nodes that pop out of the background. The first step to making the nodes is drilling out shallow holes in the background using our next awesome toy/equipment: the drill press.
Meanwhile, the wooden plugs that will become our nodes get a fancy paint job. We use neon yellow and blue to make sure the nodes really pop on the green background.
Each node is plugged into its perfectly-sized hole with a dollop of wood glue to make sure it stays put.
The foreground is then screwed into the finished background. We use a pneumatic staple gun to attach a jute rope to the back as a hanger. The hanger should be wide and lose enough to make the painting easy to balance when hung up, but it can’t be so long that it hangs over the top of the painting.
Meanwhile, in Orlando, Dave gets the website ready so that our Electric Pandas can be up on the store the minute they’re done.
Once the painting is all assembled, its time for varnishing. Varnishing makes sure that your painting can withstand household elements like humid climates, dirty hands, and sniffy cat noses. It also makes the entire piece look so shiny and beautiful.
There they are! Ready to be shipped to your home. But wait! They need one last thing.
Every painting gets a sticker on the back that says: “Made with Love”. And it’s true! Just look at all these production photos, and you can totally tell.
I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how we make art! There’s a lot of steps to make one Electric Panda, but we truly love each and every one.
Crista has been obsessively watching our Facebook popularity grow, and she’s pretty obsessed with it. When we made it to 3000 Likes, she was at home, counting down like it was New Year’s Eve.
When she came in to work the next day, she surprised everyone with this cake!
Thanks, all the new Facebook fans! We love you!
You can check out our Facebook page here, and see what all the fuss is about.
All of us here at Red Rocket Farm are incredibly grateful to our fans (this means you!), and we wanted to give a little piece of holiday cheer to adorn your desktop with.
Click on the image below to choose your wallpaper, and make sure you set it to “tile” for the best effect! Unless your looking at it on a very very small screen, in which case, leave it as is!
Click on the image to see it full size, and right click, and choose “save”. If you’re having any trouble setting the image as your background, use these handy links to walk you through: Windows or Mac
Are you a CREATIVE and WEIRD person? We made a app just for you! It’s the Red Rocket Farm Wishlist Creator!
The top wishlist will get an iPad Air, and all the items on your wishlist!
You could make one with the all-new Electric Panda, or Space Cat!
Make one of your own at the Red Rocket Farm Wishlist Creator!