Earlier this year, we’ve been asked to do a special skillet-themed commission for the new cafeteria center at Gordon Food’s Headquarters in Wyoming, Michigan. The company specializes in food service distribution across the US and Canada, so our 9 ft x 12 ft design incorporates all 48 states of America as skillets, plus 10 Canadian Provinces!
Instead of cast iron, however, this piece is build using an inert composite material for logistical purposes concerning weight, cost & time. I designed the map and created samples for approval before getting started on bigger 9 month project at hand.
We worked with Cathedral Builders in Menominee Falls, WI, to help us lay out and cut the final pieces that make up the states & provinces of the map. They were SO awesome and accommodating to our needs, allowing us to tweak & pull parts of the design so that it ‘looked’ right in the files before making a final cut.
They have a 12ft x 12ft CNC table for doing the large-scale custom cabinets that they specialize in. Using their software and equipment, we were able to successfully get all 58 pieces to start the “skillet-styling” process back in our shop at FeLion Studios.
There was quite a bit of clean up to do yet. The machines they had did the major rough – cutting job , but many of the intricacies of the pieces needed to be further cleaned up & sanded out before it was brought into the next phase.
Handles ! Yes lots and lots of custom designed / specifically made laminations for each one of these states was glued up, designed and drawn out to either cantilever over, or dive under the state or providence next to each other. Think HUGE & tedious puzzle :}
The finish texture to make this material look and “feel” like cast iron was accomplished with sandblasting, to replicate the sand-grain texture that’s representative of cast iron work. Final touches included many days of spraying an industrial strength black semi-gloss paint to really make them appear as if they were truly a cast iron piece.
Months of careful planning and construction design allowed us to install the final piece in just one day, with only a few touchups here and there to mark the end of a fantastic journey! It was a great compliment many of the workers onsite thought we were hanging real cast iron~ I must have looked pretty tough, holding up Quebec with just one hand :}