Metal and motorcycles go hand in hand. Motorcycle wall art is one of Mike’s favorite projects to work on. Since the first custom design piece he designed, he was hooked. The HD Softtail Classic turned into his son’s Christmas present for his father-in-law.
Motorcycle Wall Art – How We Do It
The process of taking a photo and creating a file that can cut on our plasma CNC seemed daunting at first. Slowly, the image took shape. The first bike didn’t cut all the way out. Mike went through a steep learning curve to discover the fine line between creating detail cut lines and blowing out an entire area. After a couple of trial and errors, the bike cut all the way out. Mike ground the piece to remove the burrs and the magical patinas and clear coat were applied.
Sizing the Wall Art
Each motorcycle has presented new challenges to Mike, as he tries to design as much detail as possible into the finished piece. He’s created everything from 16″ wide to 4′ wide motorcycles. Sent across the country, these become birthday, anniversary, man cave, and Christmas presents.
Last Christmas it was a 3 foot Chopper for Amanda to give to her fiance. This Christmas gave Mike the opportunity to create a 3′ motorcycle for a woman in Pennsylvania looking for the perfect gift for her motorcycle-loving husband.
First came the contact and a picture of the bike. She found us while searching the internet for gift ideas. We talked with her over the phone and gave her an estimate for the size she was thinking of (approximately 3 ft). She was able to send us a better picture of the motorcycle, which gave Mike more pixels (detail) to work with. Mike usually takes 2 to 3 hours to design a large motorcycle.
Next, we talked to her about whether she wanted to match the color or use patinas. She wanted to stick with patinas. Sheila decided on a size and we estimated cost and shipping. Pat sent a Design Deposit for $50.00 through Paypal. We received the deposit, and Mike went to work on design. Once designed, we send a prototype of the motorcycle (which is black and white). The black is the steel and the white are drop outs. We send prototypes back and forth with customers via email to come up with an agreeable design.
We would include a picture of the prototype in this post, but the image would then become public. Someone could easily copy it and basically “steal” our design. Mike works diligently to match the details of the bike to the finished piece because many bikes are customized by their owners.
To the Shop & Shipping
Once approved and final payment received, Mike creates a vectored image and the next part of the process begins. Cutting for a bike this size took 15 minutes of CNC machine time. The grinding can take 15 to 30 minutes depending on the look of the finished product. For this bike, Mike left the motor polished steel and taped it off during patina application. This process can take another 15 to 30 minutes. We send a photo to ensure the colors are right on.
Clear coat, curing, and packaging for shipping are the next steps and can take 2 days. Having an optimum temperature is key to clear coating and curing. Our cold Central Oregon winters mean stoking the wood stove and firing up the propane heater to obtain the proper temp. We package our larger items in bubble wrap and rigid foam board to ensure that the piece arrives in pristine condition. We usually end up making our own boxes because of the variety of shapes we create for our custom pieces.
Timeframes & Feedback
Sheila received the motorcycle on December 19, in plenty of time for Christmas. The initial contact was made on December 4 with final payment made on December 10. We estimate shipping to occur 7 to 10 days after payment is received, so we delivered well within our estimated time frames. The message we received from our customer that made our Christmas complete – “Merry Christmas to you both. Wanted to let you know that Joe was rendered speechless and thought the bike was beautiful. Thank you again, you two are truly wonderful people.” Music to our ears!