Dial Restoration with Vector-Based Artwork

Discussion in 'Reverse Glass and Dial Painting' started by mauleg, Jan 12, 2019.

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  1. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    #1 mauleg, Jan 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    The dial restoration shown below is for a Mauthe box clock with the Divina gong. If anyone has a Mauthe with this dial (194mm OD) and would like the vector-based artwork used in the restoration below, it can be downloaded in PDF format (86KB) for free here. The restoration:

    The Dial Before Restoration:
    dialscan.jpg

    Deep scratches, a big part of the chapter ring missing and many numbers only half there.

    After Sanding:
    dial bare brass.jpg

    A drill-mounted mandrel was used, sanding started with 400 grit and ending with 1500 grit sandpaper, then finishing with #0000 steel wool.

    After Silvering:
    silvered dial.jpg

    The silvering kit from Honiton Clock Clinic was used and the dial was finished up with a coat of wax, as one of the suggested options.

    After Decal application / Grommet Installation:
    final dial.jpg

    A 1200 DPI scan of the original dial was set as a template in Adobe Illustrator. Since the exact font to match the original numbers was not available, the numbers were created from scratch using the anchor tool. The chapter ring and divisions were creating using standard Illustrator techniques. The resulting print was a very precise 1:1 scale reproduction of the original dial printing.

    Inkjet waterslide 8.5" x 11" paper was used for the decal, which was treated with acrylic clear prior to application to the dial. The few bits of spotting are visible testimony to my impatience to see it finished.

    The Dial Installed in the Clock:
    20190112_155827.jpg 20190112_155850.jpg
     
    BogWood and Jim DuBois like this.
  2. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    Thanks for sharing, Mauleg. Am I understanding correctly that the waterslide decal covers the entire dial over the silvering? If so, how were you able to get the decal smooth over the curved areas? I've experimented with some litho-transfer reverse glass painting on the back of watch crystals and other curved glass. Although they've turned out ok, it's been pretty tricky getting them smooth over the entire glass. Thanks!

    Pat
     
  3. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    Correct; the waterslide decal covers the entire dial. It was the only way I could see to keep precise relative alignment of the art elements and maintain a consistent appearance. It also serves as an additional layer of protection from the elements.

    The edge of the dial was marked at 12, 3 , 6, and 9 and the decal was marked at the center. The decal was cut with an X-acto knife using the inverted dial as a template aligned to the center mark on the decal. The decal was then slid onto the dial and aligned using the marks. I referred back to these marks several times during the initial blotting, as the decal likes to move around a bit at that point in the process.

    The key to getting the decal to conform to the curves is to use a "blotting" technique, using only downwards pressure with a "rolling" motion; sideways pressure is avoided. Use a paper towel to blot off the majority of the water after initial application, then blot using fingers to push the decal down onto the curved sections. If wrinkles appear, blot the area until they are removed. Continue blotting until there are no air bubbles or pockets; it may be necessary to go over the same area several times. Once the decal is nearly dry, remove any remaining air bubbles by gently sliding them towards the nearest edge or a hole in the dial.

    Once dry-ish, I cleaned the decal surface to remove any fingerprints; if I would have let it dry fully, I'd not have had those few spots you can see.
     
  4. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    Thank you! Good to know these decals can be used on curved surfaces. Thanks for the hints, and once again for sharing the technique.

    Pat
     
  5. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    You're welcome!

    Note that the waterslide decal I used was rather elastic; that made it easier to stretch it to cover the curves smoothly.
     
  6. MuensterMann

    MuensterMann Registered User

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    Just curious - could you have skipped the silvering step and just added a silver color to your decal background?
     
  7. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    Is there a set of preferred tools/practices and steps for conversion of bitmap scans to vector artwork that doesn't take years to learn?
    I've done it using bitmaps, but it takes forever and still has unwanted artifacts.
     
  8. MuensterMann

    MuensterMann Registered User

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    Just curious - could you have skipped the silvering step and just added a silver color to your decal background?
     
  9. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    APLS printers can do metallics. But, they are either very grainy or look like chrome. I'm sure trying to stretch the silver printed film would be much more problematic than doing the whole dial with the transparent decal substrate.
     
  10. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    As Martin observed, it would be much harder to do well, and would not look correct; there's a certain depth and luminescence that silvering imparts that the camera misses.

    Adobe integrated their Streamline product into Illustrator and Photoshop a while back, but it's still not good enough. Vector art that represents fonts has to have minimal anchors, mathematically correct symmetrical curves and point-to-point straight lines in order for it to look right. I don't think, however, that sufficient understanding of the pen tool (the most crucial skill for anyone using Illustrator) takes years, more like a week or two of casual consistent use.

    On another note, I just recently completed a Hamilton Miniature dial restoration using the waterslide technique. Here's the dial before restoration, after stripping with acetone, after polishing, and after the decal application:

    dial_before.jpg dial_striped.jpg dial_polished.jpg dial_finished.jpg
    Like the Mauthe dial, I'll provide the vector artwork for free to anyone who wants it; just shoot me a PM.
     

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