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BLOG - Duke Makes Bridging the Gap

September 19, 2022

Once a creative has an idea, it will often keep growing until they’re determined to create it. But even the most inventive artists - the ones with inspirations to design things much more ambitious than they can create on their own - lack the time and resources to train as engineers, technicians or makers. 

That’s where artists may take projects into their own hands. 

When you’re going from a theoretical idea to designing and building a workable product, every choice is important. Simply choosing materials is a complicated process; you have to consider their sourcing limitations, thickness and dimensions, even the limitations of the machine bed size. Then you consider accessing the appropriate machinery, setting up files correctly, let alone the actual construction, and suddenly your seedling idea has come to a halt.

All these factors need to be just right in order to create a long lasting, professionally finished product. But when an artist tries to create this without that know-how, it can be a mine-field of costly mistakes.

That’s where Duke Makes comes in.

Our team excels at digital fabrication, and our Design and Create service aims to bridge the gap between the designers, artists and engineers.

Typically, we start with a meeting to discuss your ideas and outcomes. We’ll talk through budgets and timescales and settle on a quote. Then once the deposit is paid we get to work.

The first thing we do is create a 3D model so you can see exactly how the finished product will look. Together we can make any adjustments and ensure that it’s true to your vision. 

Once we create a design that you’re happy with, production begins. Your product could require one or all of our services - we have a CNC router, vinyl cutter, laser cutter, 3D printers, vacuum former, welding station, electronics workshop and plenty more. Having had years of experience in bespoke manufacturing projects, we know the best combination to get the right results. 

Take artist Olly Fathers for example. His practice usually involves cutting and assembling wood veneers on a small scale. He excels in intricate marquetry work - a craft in its own right - but not something he’d be able to complete on, say, a billboard. That’s when Olly came to us.

He wanted help scaling up his style to transform a discarded dark wooden board into an interesting piece of public art. Olly provided us with initial drawings for how he wanted the finished piece to look and we were able to advise him on the best materials for the job, finishes, and the best manufacturing techniques to achieve it. 

The mural would be beside a main road and would need to be hardy to British weather, so we suggested Marine Grade plywood. This type of wood would last outside for a long time without delamination or disintegration. 

To cut the wood, we instantly knew the CNC router would be the perfect machine. It can cut and carve wood incredibly accurately and far quicker than a handmade approach. 

Alongside a natural finish, the artist wanted bold orange and blocks of black, so we sourced Olly-approved outdoor paints, wood stains and varnishes that would protect them from discolouring.

The finished piece can be found on Crown Point Road in Leeds as part of the Crown Point Gallery Project by In Good Company.

If you have an idea for a project and want some help realising it, head to our Design and Create Service on our website

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