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How Bates Creates: The Making of the Steel B Installation

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New year, new large-scale branded studio installation. Our designers are encouraged to flex their visual and visceral creativity in the studio, and after welcoming a branded string art installation in January 2016, we rung in 2017 with a full-scale steel adaptation of one of our classic “Storytellers by Design” creations.

The launch of our “Storytellers by Design” campaign in 2014 transformed our branded “B” logo to evoke a new story told through an array of design techniques. When the Swirl “B” was first published in the July/August 2015 issue of Signature magazine, it showcased a new dimension of design to the series.

“The Swirl “B” was the first adaptation of our branded logo campaign that incorporated all of our colors and evoked the liveliness of the studio,” said Cecile Jordan, Senior Designer at Bates Creative. “This design wasn’t specifically themed, but has an energy that Debbie really gravitates to.”

Bates Creative Final Cut Paper B

“It is also the inaugural “B” that was tactile and it spurred a realm of handcrafted designs in our studio,” Cecile said.

The idea for a steel installation first started when our CEO and Founder, Debbie, was researching new, industrial-styled shelving to display awards in our studio lobby. Cecile recommended metal artist William Ward of WSW Welding & General Services to create custom pieces.

“Debbie is a woman of momentum and conversations of custom shelving led to the idea of recreating the Swirl B into a steel installation,” Cecile said.

Cecile worked in tandem with William to translate the one-dimension printed version of the Swirl B into a steel art installation. William explains that welding is a very competitive, yet dwindling art form because of the rise of precision robots. Will resurges the “lost art” of welding called blacksmithing by transforming solid metal with a hammer, anvil and applied heat to make intricate shapes.

Steel “B” Wall Blueprints

William provided our team five metal finishes he could apply to the final installation to give the design more depth between the sheet base and three-dimensional swirls.

Metal swatches from left to right: hot-rolled, polished grind, silver glass paint, heavy grind pattern and black hammered paint.

The Process

To ensure that the installation was true to scale, William used a blueprint of the design to guide the creation of each individual swirl.

“I cut individual pieces of steel and hand bent them or used a hammer and anvil type tools to get the shape of the piece,” William said. “When it came to the swirls, it was more challenging to get the exact shape so I improvised by flaring out the tips then hammering the metal into a circle until it gave me a shape of a swirl.”

When it came time to weld the individual pieces to the base metal sheet, William first had to weld a backer spine on the backboard to keep the sheet from warping when heat was applied. Each piece is held on by tacks, which are small welds that are used to hold a piece of metal together.

For the flat sheet of metal used to cover the base of our “B” logo, William used a dremel to smooth out the tack welds and any rough areas that he couldn’t reach with a grinder. Cecile also used sandpaper to maintain the shine before sealing the metal with a clear coat to preserve the metal’s natural vibrancy.

The Final Result

When the final product was assembled, William coated all three-dimensional elements of the design with the polished grind finish to add vibrancy against the base metal sheet that was sealed with black hammered paint.

“The Steel B installation brings together the creativity that flows through our veins,” Debbie said. “Handmade projects, especially crafted from steel, demonstrate the combination of beauty and strength.”

We want everything that we do at Bates Creative to have an impactful first impression. By hanging the Steel B installation in our studio lobby, visitors are immediately welcomed into a space that pushes the boundaries of creative expression. It demonstrates how we can do the same for their brands.

“The installation makes a great first impression for visitors to our eclectic studio space, and speaks to the creativity and scale of how the team bring ideas to life,” said Ernie Achenbach, VP of Creative at Bates Creative.

To learn more about metal art and blacksmithing, hear it from the artist, William, himself.

Danielle Moore

Danielle Moore

When it comes to the sphere of communications, Danielle simply loves the art of content creation—advertising, journalism, marketing, you name it. As content marketing specialist, Danielle is passionate about sharing messages that drive a branded impact.


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