Decorating drums with custom images is a real challenge. Though you can get the drums in hundreds of different colors and styles, from wood grain to pearlescent, it’s not very practical to apply photographs and other full-color designs to a drum kit.
That may have all changed recently when custom drum maker, Bill Cardwell of C&C Custom Drums in Gladstone, Mo., decorated custom drums for the closing ceremonies of this summer’s Olympic Games. Cardwell was introduced to the material that would make this particular project work, and work well, by Mike Bertram, a doctor with a drumming habit who’s been working on a simple and efficient way to produce custom drum graphics.
Bertram told Cardwell about LexJet Avatrex and the race was on to provide the custom graphics for the Olympics as quickly as possible since there were only a few days left to get them produced and shipped.
Cardwell got the images from Coca-Cola, one of the sponsors of the closing ceremonies, and Bertram had the images printed in reverse on LexJet Avatrex and sent to Cardwell to apply to the drums. Cardwell says he applied the graphics with a drop of dishwashing liquid and water and it went on smoothly and easily.
“One of the problems we’ve run into in the past with vinyl is that it has a tendency to crimp up along the edges where the metal parts are attached to the drum shell. The Infinium is so thin and conformable that it doesn’t have the same problem,” explains Cardwell. “And, we’ve always had to put a clear coat of some sort over the top of it for protection, and we didn’t have to put anything on the Avatrex. It was also easier to lay flat and work out the bubbles. It really worked well for applying it to a drum shell.”
Avatrex is typically applied with heat and pressure for more permanent applications, conforming to the material to which it’s applied and essentially becoming part of that material. However, since this was a temporary application and time was of the essence, a “cold” application works just fine.
“As a drummer, I’ve watched the industry evolve over time, but the application of custom graphics to drums really hasn’t changed much over the years,” says Bertram. “Now that Avatrex is available it’s a whole new ballgame because the process can be streamlined and it applies to wood really well.”