Cast Members Only time:  We covered this (and  more) in a recent Peoplenomics column about how we are “Imagineering” our home.  That discussion also went into the “Imagineering processes” used by “Walt Disney Imagineering” (WDI) and how those processes can be applied easily to business model design.

Today, for the less drill-down oriented, I wanted to go over some of our “visual cues” and how sign-making is a critical part of theming your space.

Who Can Make Signs?

“Not I!” exclaimed the slightly overweight old man with every tool in the world.

Until, that is, he discovered that he could, with the addition of just a few more tools.

You see, the only problem he had was that in order to transfer a “picture” into an outline that can be painted to (or routered to, if you’re building a 3-D sign) is getting the damn image to be used transferred from a source doc to the material which is being designed.  So, to go through the steps – so it all makes sense, from the top….

Overall Imagineering Plan for the House

We don’t want our place to look anything out of the ordinary.  So, from the street, it looks totally plain-Jane and simple.  Just a typical “trailer in the woods” which is fine with us.  OK, this year, hopefully a trailer in the woods with an exceptional number of sunflowers for the wildlife, but still….trailer house…

Although the inside of the home is already (sort of, though in ultra-slow motion) coming together.  The dining room has reeds on the walls,and ceiling some jungle village relief work on the walls, and (what else?) some table items from Trader Vic’s.  Definitely gives the vibe along with other tiki-look cues.

The kitchen is the next biggy on the hit list.  Still mulling that one.

Elaine’s office is “Silk Road chic.” While on the way to the recording studio (which has its own eclectic spin based on the many we were in during our Burbank recording school spin), you go through the “Jack London” room which brings in design elements from the San Francisco area (big 12-foot one-off mural from the Sausalito side) and rustic wood ceiling and cabin-like woodwork, all done by us….

Getting the picture?  The house is like living in our own magic kingdom.  (Except it’s not done, but that’s what happens when someone doesn’t completely retire and gets into helping yet-another start-up…but I digress…)

The Many Ways to Transfer Designs

Well, how hard can it be, you know? Let’s just say it’s terrible for me.  I have a hell of a time with design transferring because I have zip-zero-bupkis art talent that way.

So I got some “heat transfer paper” designed to go into a printer and deliver a print-ready design that could be ironed onto work media….

Problem #1:  The graphic has to be printed reversed, so I set up all the data manipulations in CorelDraw.  Problem solved.

Problem #2: I tend not to read instructions.  I have all the patience of a free-falling safe.  “What do you mean, you can’t run T-shirt transfer paper through a laser printer? ”   Well, I can now assure you, you can’t.  It also takes 45-minutes of monkey-motion to get the printer back to where it should be after.  Education, right?

Solution here was to buy a $99-buck Does Everything Printer (printer, fax, scanner and all wireless) which then let me do some rudimentary transfers.

So far, there are two transfer media that seem to work best.  One of these is the old standby: Mod Podge.  A 16-ounce container is like $9-bucks at Amazon.

The process is simple:  You print your design on regular jet-ink paper (onto the lightest weight regular paper is best, though).

You put a coating of Mod Podge on the surface of whatever you’re transferring to, wiping out all the bubble with a roller.  Kind of like putting on a decal.

Next, you set it aside to dry overnight or longer.

Once it is completely dry, you simply get after it with a few well-soaked wash clothes and the water makes the paper easy to get off, but the dried Mod Podge stays on the wood (or whatever) surface and (badda-bing) you have a transfer.  Put another coat of Mod Podge on to dry overnight and next day give it a clear top-coat with something waterproof and you’re golden.

The Freezer Paper Trick

This is even easier but takes a little doing, too:  You get some freezer paper and print with the inkjet (not laser!)  (image-reversed, of course) onto your medium.

Then with your “shop iron”  (used also for ironing-on plywood edge-tape and doing nice veneer furniture inlays, right?)  Iron like hell.  The ink, on the wax, soaks into the wood and you get a passable sign.  Hottest possible iron, 30-seconds or longer everywhere on the piece where the design goes.

Like this one outside the porch door into the house:  Remember, we are going from “empty” (of theme) room to a “golf space”…

“Why such a big picture?”

If you are going to “imagineer” you not only need to add the right furniture prompts that “set the scene” (of being in a golf club) but you also need to have the requisite detail prompts like this sign. (I’m still debating whether the “Wash Balls Here” sign should go in the golf space or master bath shower area…but that’s the fun of design.

Second point on the sign:  I was able to get a kind of “clear-wrinkly antique-look with a coat of Helmsman Spar Varnish (which is great stuff…) and then on top of that a coat of Auto Clear Coat…and then another Spar Varnish over that.  Chemically wrinkled which makes it look old….

Wait!  What About Mr. Impatient?

Ah…got just the ticket.  Unlike these techniques, there’s another kind of paper that you can find on the Zon which actually will work in a laser printer.  The stuff is $15-bucks for 25-sheets of Neenah Paper Techni Print EZP Heat Transfer Paper For Laser Printers 8.5″ x 11″.  Now we were into high-speed sign-making mode.

Since there will be what every golf course has – a white board with tee times – I needed a sign (and name) for our golf club…Using the laser transfer in no more than 20-minutes, I’d come up with the perfect “club starter board” sign to go above the tee-times:  Dusting lightly with dark brown, black, and medium gray (yeah…primer!) it already looks “old” – and when comes to visual cues, OLD is one of the cues for REALISM.   This sign does NOT look 5-minutes old and that’s the point.

This will be on the bottom of the :easel with the Tee Times sign on top.

See what’s happening?

A “generic” screen porch suddenly becomes a “transporting place.” A kind of transition from green East Texas but with some reeds and hints as to what’s coming next.  (But not so much as to “tip-off” the Trader Vic’s knock-off inside. In fact, the house entrance door will have a sign “Pro Shop” which will be a last-minute reinforcement of the “golf club” so the contrast with opening the door into a Tikiu islands scene will be…at least trippy.

Over on the far wall of the space is this little 2-hour project:  An antiqued-looking putter rack with a few golf balls on the green AstroTurf floor – which makes a great putting surface!

The one last touch (a bit more work to do yet) is to add the BGM.  In WDI Imagineering-speak that’s background music, but in our case it will be a motion activated “Thwack and gallery” noise track what will override the stereo background sound.  Parts to do that are in the Peoplenomics article.

To deliver the sound, some of those nice Bose/Inter-audio speakers will be repurposed from our acoustical / dimension-warping research.  These will turn into well-hidden outdoor speakers.

I’ll do some pictures and pointers on “Outdooring” of “indoor” speakers, but it all begins some caulking and a spray can of Thompson’s TH.010502-18 Waterseal Fabric Seal -.Aersol. Then coat-like-hell with that Helmsman Spar Varnish and mount them where wind-drive rain won’t get them…

At the end of the process, we will end up with a totally “normal” looking house that will slowly transition out of the pleasant East Texas trailer on the outside to an “OMG what is this place?” experience on the inside.

It won’t be the first.  Hollywood got there first.

There was a movie that captured the essence of this project…can’t remember the name of the movie, though, to save my soul.  It was about a couple of stoners touring the South and they stopped at this one place that looked “typically rednecked” on the outside but when they opened the door and went in?  Totally opulent Manhattan high-end apartment vibe to it.  A great laugh except and the unexpected change-up.  That’s what we’re after….

Remember the old radio commercials 7-11 did where the nasal sounding guy kept saying “I want one of them for mah room….”?

Well, we’re getting one…  You can, too…or you can live in a box.  That’s not us, though.

Write when you get rich, (But imagination and excellence are always free!)