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Signing your work

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Joe Sheble, May 21, 2020.

  1. Joe Sheble

    Joe Sheble

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    I know a lot of people use branding irons to sign their work, and I'm not at that point yet where I feel signing my work is justified. But I do want to make a gift bowl, and was wondering... Once I shaped my piece, and sanded it, could I use a permanent black sharpie to sign & date it, then when I put my finish on, it'll seal it?
     
  2. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Best to experiment, but anything with alcohol will blend with the Sharpie and ruin the look of the signature if you sign it first. Since you didn't mention your finish, it's hard to say what you should use.
     
  3. Joe Sheble

    Joe Sheble

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    I probably should've searched the forum better before asking, I found several different threads with the answers I need. Sorry to bother you all, and thanx!
     
  4. Arkriver

    Arkriver

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    Permanent Sharpie is an oxymoron. They are not permanent.
     
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  5. Robert D Evans

    Robert D Evans

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    I tried the sharpie and it comes right off when I buff the bowl. I use a cheap soldering iron with a pointy tip to write my name in the bottom after I put the finish on. The buffing wheel takes away any fuzzies from the burning. They make much better pyrography pens for the job but I don't have one and the soldering iron works for me for now.
     
  6. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Sharpies last a long time under a bowl because they don't see light. Expose to hard sunlight and they have a very short life.
     
  7. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I would sign someone else's name. Then, if the turning cracks or falls apart, you don't get blamed. :p
     
  8. Dave Landers

    Dave Landers

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    Here's a thought: Decide you are going to "claim" every piece you make by putting your name or mark on it.

    It doesn't matter how "good" they are, they are yours and represent a bunch of work (not just the work on the individual piece, but the cumulative work of all the previous pieces that led you to where you are).
    Take pride in what you can do. Whatever skill anyone else has is immaterial.
    If you know that each piece will be signed, you just might push yourself to take that little bit of extra time or care to make each one just a bit better than the last...
     
  9. Larry Parker

    Larry Parker

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    Good advice‼️
     
  10. Gary Beasley

    Gary Beasley

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    I found you can cover a sharpie signature with waterbase poly just to seal it in then go over it with whatever finish you need to. I like a pyro signature better myself.
     
  11. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    I was going to mention that. We have had several threads on this topic. I use an engraver, Dremel. Betty Scarpino showed me how to do it plus she uses it to do embellishments. A branding iron is a sign of a mass-produced item and you need a fairly flat surface to get a good brand. I do not like flat surfaces on a bowl. I much prefer an engraver or an archival ink pen to give the work a personal touch
     
  12. Bill Blasic

    Bill Blasic

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    Buy a Pigma Micron pen. Have never found a finish that will ruin your signature with this archival ink.
     
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  13. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    That is what I have used for years and never had it run no matter what finish is over or under it.
     
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  14. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    I use a pyro pen, no mater how much you buff it, It's not coming off!! :D
     
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  15. Tom Gall

    Tom Gall

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    John, you're a funny guy! Love your sense of humor.
     
  16. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    The problem is to find the name of someone on the opposite end of the US from where the customer lives. BTW, your avatar is outstanding.
     
  17. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    I originally looked into branding irons and discovered through these forums that they were not the best way to label my work. You need a flat surface and the types of wood can affect the brand. As for me signing a bowl... my chicken scratch is not very consistent so I wanted to get a descent signature so I created something that was “acceptable” and digitized it. I laser printed a bunch of them on each sheet so I don’t have to create them very often. Toner in a laser printer doesn’t run or bleed. I came across a method using polyurethane and silicone sheets by printing my signature/label on a silicone sheets and applying them using the polyurethane. You have to use sheets designed for laser printers which are capable of handling the temperatures in the laser printer. I typically coat my bowls in food safe epoxy resin so I have modified the technique to use epoxy resin instead of polyurethane. I get laser quality signature/labels that are consistent and extremely durable. I prefer a mortise/recess or concave base on my bowls so I apply the labels in the base of each turning. It takes very little resin, and if I wanted to I could finish the rest of the bowl in other products besides epoxy resin. You could also do this with polyurethane but it is not as resilient as the epoxy.
    I did a YouTube video on how I do it in case you are interested. Here is the link.
    Creating and Applying Laser Quality Labels

    View: https://youtu.be/QbCwJwIOBBk

    One of the advantages of applying your labels using this technique is that you can use multiple colours if your printer has the capability. For me black was fine.
    If you choose to do this I hope the video helps.
    Good luck in perfecting whatever method you use, and remember have fun, be safe, and create a remarkable treasure.
     
  18. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Quite the process. When I asked on a thread here about branding my work, the general consensus here was than anything other than a signature with a pen, pyro, engraver, or any other method, has a feel of a mass produced item.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020
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  19. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    That's the way I feel Emiliano. Do master painters sign their work with a stamp. It does take practice to learn to produce a signature that is either legible or easily recognized as your own. I use a Dremel engraver most of the time and a pyro pen other times.
     

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  20. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    I worked in the medical industry for a number of years managing a computer division. I think I learned to sign like a doctor through osmosis inspired by the huge volume of documents I had to sign. A lot of executives had digital signatures. I didn’t have that kind of rank. I definitely sacrificed quality for speed to the point where I barely recognized what I was writing.
    I wanted people to be able to read my signature on my turnings so I practiced signing like I did back in school until I got it to what I liked. That is why I created my labels. They are consistent.
    Also by digitally producing the labels with my signature I could add our logo (my wife and I). We want to create a brand for our work.
    We tried different methods before settling on the digital label. Wood is porous so inks bled or faded.
    We tried wood burning tools but they were not consistent. My wife (the artist) does wood burning and painting on some of my turnings and she finds it challenging because of the differences between early wood and late wood and between sap wood and heartwood. She has developed a feel for it now.
    Using a rubber stamp and ammonium chloride did not provide the quality we wanted on wood. Signing a turning made of resin and wood didn’t produce the results we wanted because of the two different textures and porosities.
    After lots of trial and error we settled on the method I described earlier. The labels are consistent and can be accurately scaled to fit any size object. I use a standard 1.5” wide label that fits in the smallest recess I create on my turnings using 2” jaws. They can also be applied to resin, wood, or any other item where you can use epoxy.
    I guess it boils down to personal preference and individual penmanship skills. If I freehand signed each of my turnings nobody would think they came from the same person.
     
  21. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Still true months later.

    I totally agree that a piece is not finished unless it has a signature or some maker’s mark on it.

    I think you have to allow for some pieces going into the burn pile or being set aside for over.
    These you don’t have to “claim”
     
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  22. Kevin Weir

    Kevin Weir

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    I guess I’m old school. A simple signature with a pen and sealed over with wipe-on poly. Difficult to do on small pieces, but the secret is to support your arm at the same level as the base you are signing. C5A20C51-5E16-4032-85C2-8C09E2CC544B.jpeg
     
  23. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    Nice signature. I wish my penmanship was that good.

    Do you coat the area with anything before you sign to prevent bleeding and what time of pen did you use?
     
  24. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Signature has been a evolving issue. Started out with just initials and a date, then it was signature a date and species.
    I found that you can get a branding iron about 3/4 " high and that is what I use now. Have year only in roman numerals and do species on some. You will sometimes need to rock the brand to get full imprint.
    IMG_6617.JPG
     
  25. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    Arthur,

    I tried using a branding iron, but found it difficult to use to achieve a consistent image across the wood — even flat surfaces (I think the iron’s surface may have warped from the heat).

    I really like this approach. I’m more into finishing with a matte or maybe semi gloss surface. Have you tried anything that is not so glossy?

    Kind regards,
    Rich
     
  26. Kevin Weir

    Kevin Weir

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    Most woods that are sound will not result in ink run or bleeding. If the wood is at all “loose” like soft pine or punky maple, the results will be poor. I’ve learned the hard way! But usually I don’t coat the area prior to signing.
     
  27. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    There are certainly a lot of successful ways to label your work, so it's a personal choice.

    I've seen Jacques Vessery use a burner to make a legible signature that you need a magnifier to read. Yeah, I'm not Jaques. In fact, I'm lucky my bank will still negotiate my checks.

    Like Gerald I created a hallmark and had a custom branding iron made. My branding iron is only 1/4" in size as I frequently only have a small place in which to place the mark. Being small I have not had any difficulty with curved or uneven surfaces. I have heard of branding irons warping, but I think that might be more of a problem with thin flat irons like the ones that you can find on the shelf at Rock-Craft. These custom irons are made from a big lump of brass. After applying the brand I hit the area with the last sandpaper grit to remove any singeing. On a side note, I also sometimes use the iron cold and emboss my hallmark for a more subtle effect.

    I adorn the brand with the piece number and the year I made it written with archival ink on bare wood. I have never had any bleeding on the bare wood or wood coated with PU varnish. The ink has not run when the top coats of varnish are applied, either. I think Kevin's point about punky wood is a good one.

    Here's a picture of the iron and my typical mark (I originally had a big iron, but I pretty much only use the small one now).

    20200126_1438481.jpg
    20200126_1432521.jpg
    But back to the OP's question, you might want to pick up an archival ink pen (Hobby Lobby; Dick Blick), but certainly sign the piece in pen. And how you "sign" today does not have to be how you sign all your pieces going forward.
     
  28. Glenn Lefley

    Glenn Lefley

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    When you put Permanent marker on. Which is non permanent, fades over time. Spray a coat off finish over it to stop it from buffing off.
     
  29. odie

    odie

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    Just my opinion here: :D

    I once had a branding iron, and like others, found it to be finicky to use properly. If it wasn't used on a flat surface, it's a no-go. If it's not held perfectly perpendicular to that flat surface, it looks sloppy. :(

    Yes, you can use a Sharpie, and many turners do. It's very easy to use, very distinctly black, and the lettering looks cleanly made.......but, IMHO, it looks very unprofessional. :(

    Also, many artists and craftsmen are putting a multitude of information on their creations.....like name, date, production #, species, made in xxxxx, etc. To me, anything other than a signature, or personal logo, looks "touristy" and catering to a specific mentality level of a potential buyer who is influenced differently than the true connoisseurs of art.

    For awhile, I attempted to use a woodburning tool to do a complete signature, and add things like species, date, etc.......but, I found that it was just too difficult to get clean looking writing on different kinds of woods. There is no second try, if you screw it up! :rolleyes:
    IMG_1106.JPG
    What I've found works best for me, is this CSUSA "cub" wood burner. (They look a lot different now, but the internals haven't changed. This one is 30+ years old, and still works perfectly.) A logo is fine, and that's what I choose to use. Notice that my logo is designed with all straight lines.....That makes it very easy to get nice cleanly done results. Curved lines are difficult to burn cleanly. The real trick here, is to get the heat setting right, and go slow and deliberately. The heat setting will be hotter with more hard/dense woods, and less hot with softer woods.
    Woodwriter (2).jpg IMG_4968 (2).JPG
    -----odie-----

    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
  30. Donna Banfield

    Donna Banfield

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    Odie, do you still have that Detail Master Sabre woodburning unit in your post?
     
  31. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    Rich

    In answer to your question about finishes. I can create everything from a glass like finish to an extremely matte finish using epoxy resin. I just do it in reverse.

    Besides wood turning I also do sandcarving and lapidary. With lapidary I use diamond abrasives ranging from 60 grit to 50000 grit. In lapidary any grit below 600 is considered a shaping grit, 600 to 1200 is considered pre-polish, and above that is considered polish.

    Applying the resin leaves me with a finish that is brighter and smoother than anything I can do with abrasives because it goes on as a liquid and self levels. Even after polishing a stone at 50000 grit I can still see micro scratches with a high powered jewellers loop. The stone shines but it is not as smooth as a liquid.

    For my resin covered turnings I apply scratches to create a matte or semigloss finish by using abrasives in reverse order to get the type of finish I want. I may want a finish using an abrasive closer to the low end of the polish stages or I may go for a heavy matte finish in the 220 to 400 grit range. I have also used different grades of steel wool and scotch bright pads (going from memory I believe red pads are in the range of 300 sandpaper, green are around 600, and white are approximately 1200)The only drawback to my method is I have to manually use the abrasive so it takes a bit of time. I cannot use power tools because the scratches have to be random, and power tools create consistent lines. You also have to be careful not to sand through the resin. Doing it by hand reduces that risk. When I apply resin I apply at least three coats. Especially when doing a live edge bowl. The phloem and punky wood tends to soak up resin like a sponge. The advantage to that is it adds a lot of strength.

    Here is a bowl where I created a matte finish on the outside (220 sandpaper and steel wool), and the inside is untouched epoxy resin.

    E326A051-5C96-4D42-8C87-A786A2B5E6AE.jpeg CC16318E-AF44-4D7E-BCE4-C4CC765D229D.jpeg 41E6F38E-D76A-41AF-B7B4-9C9250BB724A.jpeg 0005825D-ACC4-4C5B-9EE5-EF9E83BECA86.jpeg

    Note that I left my label with a clear finish. Something you could also do where you intend to apply your label is apply colour to the resin on the first seal coat which would add contrast to the label.

    I hope this answered your question.

    FYI I think your logo would look great done this way!
     
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  32. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    Odie triggered a memory for me.

    Something I believe I have seen in the AAW forums is to use a drill press to ensure a consistent pressure while using a branding iron. That of course only works on flat surfaces and your branding iron can be mounted on your drill press.

    In regard to signatures... my wife has been an artist for over half a century and something she learned many years ago was never date your work. It isn’t just her opinion but the opinion of her peers. The reason it is not recommended is if you intend to ever sell your art it does not look favourable if it has been hanging around for years. People read an old date and think it has less value because it hasn’t sold and has been sitting on the shelf.

    The only information she has “on” her art is her signature. She does state in a description either online, on hang tags, or in promotional materials the media (water colour, acrylic, mixed media, etc), the type of substrate (canvas, canvas board, wood, metal, glass, etc), and the size. Similar to what you see in descriptions in the AAW magazine.
     
  33. odie

    odie

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    Hello Donna.......Yes, I still have it. Seems to me, it's been discontinued......don't know if my memory on that is correct. It has a big drawback, IMHO......the pens get excessively hot, and hard to hold. (That's why I modified it with the PVC, and foam you see in the pics......the PVC seems to work the best.) I still do use it occasionally, but not for the purpose of signing my bowls, like I had intended. :D

    -----odie-----

    Great idea about the drill press and branding iron! :D That would certainly be an advantage, especially in a production type setting......and, only on flat surfaces, as you say.

    As for the signature, I do agree with your wife on that. Just the signature is best. About the date: It certainly would be a handicap for a lesser known artist to include the date, for the reasons you mention. Now, for a well known artist, past and present, the same psychological drawbacks may not apply.......and, actually might be advantageous for someone who is in very high demand by art collectors.

    As a side note......(Having had some professional instruction in oil painting (a long time ago), I was taught that the bigger the signature, the bigger the ego! Now, if speaking of a Degas, Manet, etc., that may have absolutely no influence, at this point!

    -----odie-----
     
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  34. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    I will sometimes mount the branding iron it the tail stock with a jacobs chuck.
     
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  35. Bobby Smith

    Bobby Smith

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    I laser engrave my brand on almost all things I make.
    My Brand Texas.jpg
     
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  36. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    Bobby

    I am not very familiar with laser engravers. I looked into some entry level CNC/laser engravers but they looked fragile and I wasn’t sure how you could engrave objects of different heights. They were a couple of hundred dollars. The fancy ones were out of my price range.

    Can you elaborate a little on how to use them on different thicknesses of bowls and vases and what would you recommend as an entry level system?

    Does the distance from the laser or the type of wood affect quality?

    Can you cut wood using your laser? You often see items like Christmas ornaments cut with a laser.
     
  37. Bobby Smith

    Bobby Smith

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    Arthur, I bought the NEJE 3500 master. You may want to check out some youtube videos on it. It's a small laser, does about a 6"x6" engraving. At it's own designed level, I don't think it will engrave anything higher than about 3-4". I have attached a stock pic of it and I guess if you had something taller to set it on enabling the laser to extend out over an edge, then you might be able to do something taller. The 3500 stands for the laser power size. 3500 = 3.5watts. The make more powerful lasers that can be exchanged out on this same model. They offer a 7w and a 20w. I have engraved wood, leather and antler with it and it does a pretty good job. The quality of the engraving is done with an adjustable head at the tip of the laser that lets you focus it to a fine pin laser to get better detail. It also has different power levels for different types of materials that you would engrave on. It comes with it's own software which is pretty easy to use. I would really look at some videos online so you can actually see how it works and what its capabilities are pertaining to what you would use it for. Here's a few things I engraved with it. I don't do large stuff, so it works for what I want it for. I've used it for some of my knife sheaths on leather and some wood projects. Btw, you can use your own clip art and engrave whatever you want. It allows you to resize objects in the software.
     

    Attached Files:

  38. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    Bobby

    The laser engraving looks great! I will check out some videos.

    I do sandcarving (carving photos and text into granite with a sand blaster), but it can also be done with lasers (just not as deep) so I was looking into those styles but they are not cheap. The one you suggest might be great for embellishments on my wood bowls. I do most of my artwork in Adobe so it would be great if the laser software could import any of Adobe’s formats.

    I love the knife. Did you make it? If so what types of steel did you use. I think Damascus steel is amazing. I was going to take a forging course this year but Covid got in the way. Hopefully I can take the course next year.
     
  39. Arthur Crozier

    Arthur Crozier

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    Odie

    My ego is 1.5 inches... max, which includes signature and logo.

    I am new to posting on these forums. Can you tell me how you get partial quotes, multiple quotes, and expandable quotes in your postings? I tried hitting reply but it quotes your complete posting and I would like to reply to a specific item.
     
  40. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    Highlight the portion of posting you would like to quote. A mini-box should pop up giving you the options to quote or reply. Click reply.

    If there is another quote you would like to add to your posting this can be done at any point in your posting.
     

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