Run through the Jungle in South Dakota with Photo Wall Murals

Printed Museum DisplayThe Armed Forces Military Display and Gifts museum in Wasta, S.D., is more than a museum; it is a re-creation of the environments and elements in which America’s wars were fought.

The museum’s curator, Tom Rancour, goes to great lengths to infuse each display with as much reality as possible. The various military equipment and arms displayed at the museum – from the personal items soldiers carried in the field to airplanes and tanks – represent the culmination of years of painstaking collection by Rancour and items generously donated by veterans and their families.

In order to better set the scene for the museum’s recent displays that incorporate the environment in which the original equipment would be typically found, Rancour has been using Photo Tex (EX) – Aqueous Printers from LexJet for photographic wall murals.

The first wall mural depicted German field equipment used in World War II, a project we covered a couple of months ago at the LexJet Blog.

Museum GraphicsThe most recent display features equipment and uniforms typically used in the jungles of Vietnam. The wall mural printed on Photo Tex creates the jungle surroundings, as well as artificial palm trees, bamboo and a Ficus tree Rancour bought at Michael’s craft store.

“I found two jungle pictures at a stock photography site and merged them together in Photoshop so you couldn’t see where they merged. I enlarged it to eight feet to cover the corner room where the display is located,” explains Rancour. “The Photo Tex EX was easy to apply, including the outside corners, in one piece. I made sure the corners were nice and plumb and square, because if they weren’t it would be difficult to apply it without cutting the material to size. On the outside corners I peeled the material horizontally rather than vertically, which made it easier for that part of the application.”

Rancour applied the Photo Tex to five different wall sections in the corner room in two panels. The total size of the mural is about 8′ x 26′. Rancour adds that instead of taking a security sensor off of the wall, he cut around it and applied that piece to the sensor’s cover. “You don’t notice it; it blends right in,” he says.

“I used the EX version of Photo Tex because of the wall surface, which is a lightly textured eggshell. I didn’t have any problems when I tested the regular Photo Tex on it, but to be safe I went to the EX because it was a minimal extra cost to do it,” he adds.

Rancour’s next project will be a British military desert scene from World War II for which he’s currently looking for appropriate photography to use for the surrounding wall mural.

Inkjet Printed Wall Murals Illustrate Military History

Photo Wall Mural

It’s one thing to learn about World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam on the Military Channel, but quite another to see the actual equipment and weaponry and rare photos from those conflicts in person. Tom Rancour, who’s an engineer by trade, is the curator of the privately-owned Armed Forces Military Display and Gifts museum in tiny Wasta, S.D., which is near Rapid City.

Photo Wall Mural at a MuseumThe museum is located right off I-90 with visibility that helps ensure curious passersby stop in to see the impressive collection of military memorabilia, much of it drawn from Rancour’s personal collection. As an engineer, Rancour is used to printing in large format with an HP3500CP, but mainly for CAD drawings and renderings.

Creating large murals that help shed additional light on the various displays, however, is another matter entirely. Rancour wanted to include two rare photos from his private photo collection that would tie into a display of German field equipment used in World War II.

“I looked for a year and a half for a material I could apply to the wall to avoid hanging photos in the back of that display case. When I found Photo Tex at LexJet I was so relieved because it saved a lot of headache on how to hang that material,” says Rancour. “Those photos are originally 1 1/2″ x 2”. I scanned them with an Epson scanner and then printed them on the HP printer using the HP Standard Coated Paper setting, and that seemed to do the trick.”

Armed Forces Military Display and Gifts Museum
The Armed Forces Military Display and Gifts Museum in Wasta, S.D., has an amazing collection of arms, equipment and uniforms from past wars.

Rancour adds that the quality of German photography from that era was head and shoulders above what the Allies were producing, thus allowing the images to be blown up to life-sized wall murals.

“You can’t argue with a photo for accuracy, and much of what’s on display is also in the photo,” says Rancour.

Rancour was relieved to find Photo Tex because the material is almost infinitely repositionable and doesn’t tear the paint off the wall. Rancour decided to use Photo Tex EX instead of the regular Photo Tex since the EX version has an adhesive that’s 40-45 percent stronger.

Armed Forced Military Display and Gifts Museum
The museum’s collection includes items from all the major players in past wars, such as this display of Soviet weaponry from WW II.

“It was easy to apply with just about the worst condition you could have on a wall: an eggshell textured surface. I went to the EX because I was concerned about that. The standard Photo Tex probably would have worked, but better safe than sorry, and it’s only a few dollars difference between the two,” says Rancour.

Rancour adds that he used a self-leveling visible laser level on a mast tripod to align the mural panels at the top. “I used my hands and a wallpaper brush to smooth out the material. A razor blade was used to cut off the unprinted margins on a cutting table, and to cut around the wall switch, security sensor and outlet openings,” he says.

So, if you’re in the Rapid City area, be sure to drive out to Wasta and check out one of the few privately-owned and funded military history museums in the Midwest.

Printing the American Flag in all its Glory

Printing an exhibit for a museum

“It looks like the American flag exploded in this room,” says Molly Engquist, curator of exhibits for the Siouxland Heritage Museums in Sioux Falls, S.D. But that’s the point of the exhibit now on display at the Old Courthouse Museum, which is one of two museums the Siouxland Heritage Museums operates (the other is the Pettigrew Home & Museum).

Museum exhibit signs and graphicsThe backbone of the display, which is a visually-intensive fact-filled exploration of the history of the American flag, are two pop-up display booths printed on LexJet 10 Mil Opaque Display Film and finished with a 10 mil textured matte laminate.

Our department tries to make history pretty so that it’s more fun to learn. The display was so crisp and clear, even though we used a matte laminate because of the gallery lights. Everyone who’s seen it so far has been very pleased with it,” says Engquist. “We found LexJet when we were looking for the right print material to use on the pop-up booth. Erin Krcmar [Engquist’s customer specialist] has been very helpful.”

The prints were applied to the display booths with magnets in five vertical panels, three in the middle and two end caps. Lamination was done by Express Copy and Printing in Sioux Falls since Engquist doesn’t have a laminator. The fact that both the printable material and the laminate are 10 mils each helps guard against de-lamination for a more durable display.

Creating graphics for museumsThe two main pop-up booth displays are flanked by a combination of retractable banner stand graphics and framed information panels.

Durability and portability were two of the most important qualities Engquist was looking for in the print materials and hardware used for the exhibit. When the exhibit has run its course at the Old Courthouse Museum it will be sent to county libraries and smaller museums that don’t have the budget or resources to create their own exhibits.

The exhibit opened on Flag Day, appropriately enough, and is called Symbol of Freedom: The American Flag. The museum received a grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution to create the exhibit, which will make a lasting impression at the Old Courthouse Museum and throughout Minnehaha County.

Flexible Backgrounds for Any Studio Setup

Backdrops for photography with an inkjet printerFor Heather Kallhoff, the old cliché about necessity being the mother of invention proved to be not only true, but a real boon for her one-woman portrait photography studio in Watertown, S.D. Having moved from a residential studio to a commercial studio, she found she had a lot less flexibility, at least as far as creating ambience for various shoots.

Kallhoff began experimenting with different materials to use as backdrops, settling on LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Self Adhesive Polypropylene. “It’s non glare, with great color saturation and has the right price point,” says Kallhoff.

Kallhoff works with White House Custom Colour on the majority of her print projects and says the backdrops quickly proliferated beyond her studio as other photographers requested the unique two-panel backdrops. They were so much in demand that Kallhoff started a website at where they’re sold.

“What I’ve done with our backdrops that makes them different, aside from the peel-and-stick aspect, is that they’re two panels printed at 42” x 96” each so we can create dimensional sets versus just flat backgrounds,” she says. “You can have split walls, make corners or use one as a background and one as the floor. It just gives you a lot of flexibility. In my studio I use them as semi-permanent backgrounds that I stick to a wall. I also have a wall of pink foam that I Velcro them to so that they’re easy up, easy down and reusable.”

Printed backgrounds for photographyKallhoff first started creating the backgrounds from photos she would take of interesting scenes around the country. Now the catalog has more than 200 different backdrops from which to choose. Plus, since they’re printed on-demand, custom backdrops are also available and can be printed in more than two panels, if desired.

Kallhoff says she does four-panel backgrounds for a dance studio she works with so that there’s a background for every costume they use. A network television series recently inquired about backgrounds for their set, so Kallhoff is excited about the possibility of seeing her work on television.

“We have an artist team submission group and if someone shoots something cool they’ll send it to me, I’ll convert it into a background and they get a discount on the custom background for them and a kickback on every background sold of their design,” she says.

Adding Large Format Printing to an Epic Multimedia Mix

Printing the cover of a proposal book with metallic paperWhen Cheryl Elbers joined Epic Multimedia more than a year ago she brought large format printing with her. Based in Sioux Falls, S.D., Epic Multimedia is a full-service ad agency that’s now even more versatile with the ability to print posters, banners and other advertising related materials in-house.

For the previous nine years or so Elbers ran a photo studio, pro-lab and creative agency. Given her diverse background in the graphic arts – from creative conception to production – she does a little bit of everything for Epic Multimedia. In addition to printing, Elbers does account management, photography, videography, web and print design.

Inkjet printing airport signageWhen Elbers joined the Epic Multimedia team she brought an Epson 9800 with her, as well as the expertise of her print media and ink supplier, LexJet. The combination was an excellent match, as Elbers explains: “Integrity is a big part of who we are; talking with people and not at them, just like LexJet does.”

Beyond the creative powerhouse Epic Multimedia has built that has led to its significant growth over the years, building partnerships with its customers is equally important. “We don’t want to be just a company to someone. We want to partner with them and make them feel confident that we can produce the results they need.”

Inkjet printing postersLarge format printing helps boost this value proposition. Elbers says large format printing is a growing component of Epic Multimedia’s product and service mix. As clients see the quality of the output, the requests naturally pile up at the agency.

For instance, Elbers says that some of the agency’s Request for Proposal (RFP) folders have been topped with a print on LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper (pictured at the top of this post), an inkjet photo medium Elbers adopted as a photographer. “After showing it to our clients, others have asked about the paper and requested prints on it,” she says.

Printing graphics for A-frames for retail and trade showsElbers also uses LexJet 7 Mil Absolute Backlit, Photo Tex PSA Fabric, LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas, EPSON Premium Semigloss Photo Paper and EPSON Premium Luster Photo Paper. “LexJet is so handy. Some salespeople can be overbearing, but when LexJet calls it’s not like that at all. I’ve worked with four or five reps over the years, and they must get great training because every one of them has approached it in such a friendly manner that you’re immediately comfortable.”