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People dream about winning championships — what about designing the trophy?

As the oldest trophy in professional sports, the NHL’s Stanley Cup travels with the champions until they are defeated and forced to relinquish this prized possession, but not before adding their names to the legends already etched in the silver.

The approach to producing a trophy for a monthly Potluck Champion was a fun experience — filled with classic design conundrums, like how-big-should-I-make-it? …and what-will-it-look-like?

A wooden base seemed critical to the trophy aesthetic — providing a classic look with a functional base to attach the championship hardware. Three alternating layers of finish-grade pine were chosen and cut to size, glued together, clamped and left over night.

Once the glue dried, the wooded base was sanded on all sides with 80 grit sandpaper, working up to 320 grit sandpaper. One coat of satin polyurethane was applied evenly to the entire body to seal the wood and provide a smooth finish for applying the decal.

The decal was designed in Adobe Illustrator and printed on water-slide decal paper, using a laser printer. After the decal is printed and cut to size, the decal is soaked in warm water to release the paper backing, which leaves an ultra-thin, transparent layer with the printed content.

The decals require careful placement to ensure there are no wrinkles in the application. A wet sponge or rag can be a lifesaver at this step, as the decals dry quickly and adhere to the surface of the wooden base. “Floating” the decal across the surface with a small amount of water makes the entire process easier — any excess water can be wiped away once the decal is in the desired location.

When the decals have dried, a couple coats of polyurethane are required to protect the decal or it can be easily chipped or scratched. Three coats of polyurethane were used in this example, to ensure the decal was completely covered and all of the edges were completely sealed to the wooden surface. Once the base was completed, the focus shifted to searching for the perfect hardware.

A trip to the Goodwill resulted in finding the perfect cup for the Potluck Champion trophy!

An old cup from a tea set was an easy choice for the Potluck Champion trophy — perfectly aged to imply years of hard-earned pedigree. The cup was attached to the base with a heavy duty wood screw after carefully drilling a pilot hole in the bottom of the cup. Rubber washers were placed on either side of the cup with the screw holding everything firmly in place. Adding the rubber washers is critical for keeping the cup from rotating.

The end result is a cool trophy that many people will enjoy having on their desk — proudly displaying their championship title.

Checkout my portfolio and blog for more projects!