General Info about how we do things

A Portland based collective focused on creating high quality artistic & functional panels for modular synths.

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General Info about how we do things

Post by phidelity » Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:39 pm

You can find us at:
Magpie Modular Facebook Page

Magpie is a small boutique company that is focused on custom panels for modular synths, guitars and synths in general. While some people complain that its wrong headed to spend so much time and energy on how the things that make sound look, a little like focusing on the finger pointing at the moon, we tend to disagree and prefer to be surrounded with things of beauty. We often lie to people and tell them it makes the music sound better and once in a while we say our top of the line panels will even make the music for you.

We are huge fans of the sDIY world and try to support this scene. So our inital offerings have been focused on companies which support open hardware, creative commons and open source - this includes: Music Thing, Mutable Instruments, 4ms, etc etc. We will be doing runs of standard modules but we don't want to lose focus of our primary goal.

We are currently focused on two main styles which we will release panels under
[1] Murdered Out - Named after the collective naming: a Murder of Magpies. The color is Black on Black. Black semi-gloss powder coat with details sandblasted down to a lighter matte finish, topped with a pleasing light gray two-part epoxy screenprint. The general artwork aesthetic focuses on the technical, geometric and clean design.

[2] Charm - Also named after the lesser used collective term "A charm of magpies". This style is centered around white, shiney and lustrous asthetics. The design asthetic focuses on the organic, feminine, flowing and beautiful.

[3] Customs - Everything we do falls in here. We love to experiment and try new things. In general we tend to release experiments these first to our loyal customers via Facebook, Instagram, and now Muffwiggler.

We will do interest checks and pre-orders on panels eventually but for now we are a fledgling company just barely out of the nest so the general method is to just make a bunch and run out. :doh:

What is your process?
We create CAD files and have our laser cutter cut the panels out in bulk

The panel is cleaned and powdercoated
We prepare the resist mask for sandblasting which is a 5-step process in itself
it involves

Creating the art on transparency
Exposing UV sensitive film with this transparency
Washing away everything that wasn't hardened by the exposure
Hanging to dry
Finally applying to the powder-coated panel

We then sandblast said powdercoated panel
we then wash off the resist and let it dry. This leaves use with the matte design in the finish.

Then we screen print the panel with our two-part epoxy ink (which is necessary to adhere to the powdercoat and it's proper industrial grade durable and should last as long as your module.

Of course all the fun things involved in screenprinting apply here - The screen must be prepared and lined up, taped off and cleaned after use including the bonus fun of screens clogging, ink smudging and random happy and usually unhappy accidents.

This section also answers why we will likely not do a one off design, or special color screenprint just for you unless you start talking the sort of money that would make this amount of work look worthwhile, which is coincidentally more than anyone should ever pay for a panel.

Custom Designs?
Dude... what did I just say? See our process section above. We entertain suggestions however and sometimes test out concepts.

Will you be doing X panel?
Check our schedule page where we will be listing the panels in our queue. For now we are undecided on whether or not we will do panels for certain manufacturers as we like their aesthetic and don't see the need to reinvent the wheel. Also keep in mind each one is a lot of work and we are a three person shop.

Whats up with the customs and one-offs?
We are treating Magpie as a process oriented R&D lab, so along with every commercial run we throw in a few alternate designs, experimental processes etc etc. Sometimes these come out great but we decide not to produce them, sometimes we do persue them but strictly as a limited edition run. More often than not these are offered as a first-come first-served basis on our facebook group as a perk.

Whats the difference between A stock and B stock?
These are all 'handmade' meaning that there are at least three distinct stages where the process can go awry and create little variations: Powder-coating, Sand-blasting and screen-printing. While we do our best we aren't perfect so there will be slight variations piece to piece. Here's our criteria on what takes a panel down from A stock to B stock. Any incomplete lettering, Smearing of the screenprint, and inconsistancy in the screenprint. The B stock is still good, but doesn't meet our standards, some have commented that they dont

Guest Artist Program
We love working with talented artists
Here's the gist of our guest artist program: We can offer credit towards modules, panels or a flat ~$5 per panel for each panel sold. We calculate this quarterly


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