This is one of those stories I’ve kept saying “oh, I’ll share that one next,” but kept putting it off in favor of other stories here on the blog for the last several months. So – now I’m making sure to share it.
A little over a year ago, I came across a website that advertised selling large-scale prints of cool and interesting patents. The concept isn’t very sophisticated – the patents themselves are available free of charge from Google Patents, where you can find high resolution scans of most (maybe all) patents ever issued – but the fun part is someone got the idea that they could use these drawings, printed nicely on large-format paper, and make a business on a place like Etsy. You choose details such as the size, and type of paper stock and color you want to see them printed on. They have their large-format printers do the work and ship you the finished product. I’m a sucker – I thought it was cool, so I ordered a set of ones that I liked.
Ultimately though, I wanted more than just a paper poster to hang on the wall. This house isn’t a college dorm room, after all. So I thought about the best way to take those posters and make them into something more sophisticated. The simplest path would be to stick them into a frame, but I felt they wouldn’t look quite as interesting if that was all I did. So I looked into a more complex process in which I would plaque mount the posters on wood.
With a little bit of Internet research I came up with a plan: pick up some 3/8 inch MDF (medium density fiberboard), cut them to the site of the posters, bevel the edges of the board with a router and paint the edges black to prep the plaque itself. Then glue the poster to the board using spray adhesive and as a final step, coat the finished product with a matte finish spray to protect the paper.
I wanted these posters to go on the walls in the Family Room downstairs, which overall has a blue tone (bluestone fireplace, bluish-gray carpet, and bluish-gray shades), so I picked the posters to be printed in an off-white ink on a blue paper background, and on a relatively large size (20×30.) I chose four patents: a Polaroid close-up lens add-on (for my camera work), a Lego brick (for the large Lego collection I possess), the original Macintosh case design (I am a Mac guy), and the Hollerith tabulating patent (what, essentially, started it all for IBM in 1888.) It took about a week to do all four of them start to finish, but I am very happy with the results, and they really fit into the room well, completing the look on the walls. I also feel they follow my motto of being Mid-Century Compatible.
Here are the progress and finish shots: