Archive for January, 2015

Tattoo Master Magazine Product Feature: Art for Your Sole

by on Jan.05, 2015, under Supply Review

By Dave Perry, Revolver Tattoo Rooms

Now I’m a sucker for a nice piece of customized hardware in my studio. It makes you somehow feel special to be working every day with something that has been built or created especially for you. It also makes a nice talking point for your customers. In my work space I am fortunate enough to have chairs that have been personalized for me, arm rests that have been hang built for me, even one-off sets of machines that builders have given to me. But I must admit that I never owned a customized foot pedal…until now

wedge 3

I became aware of The Wedge foot pedal when I first saw a number of pictures of its Star Wars incarnations popping up in my news feed on the internet. It looked interesting enough, but a foot pedal’s a foot pedal, isn’t it? Needless to say, I never really gave it much more thought. Then, in one of those chance meetings that seems to come out of nowhere sometimes, I was playing skittles in my local Rugby club, when a member of the opposite side introduced himself to me and told me that his son was making custom foot pedals for tattoo artists…and the penny dropped. We swapped info and shortly afterwards I got a message from Steve Miler, offering to make me my very own bespoke version of his new foot pedal, The Wedge. Of course, I was delighted to take him up on his offer.

During the next few weeks, I spent more time looking into the development of ‘The Wedge’ and hearing excellent reports coming back from various conventions, where other artists had met Steve and his business partner Jay Petty, and had had an opportunity to try out The Wedge for themselves. I was intrigued and also looking forward to eventually getting my own pedal.

When my foot pedal was finally finished, it was personally dropped off at the studio by Steve’s father (not a service every customer can expect) and the first thing I noticed, as I removed the object from the box, was just how solid and heavy it was. Most foot pedals are very light and sometimes a bit flimsy. The Wedge, however, is a heavy duty piece of hardware, solid as a rock and capable of doing some serious damage should it ever be dropped onto unsuspecting toes. Resplendent with my own logo, which you can see from the images on this page, Steve had also put in a couple of spare front plates for me; one with the Skin Deep logo on it and one with the Tattoo Master logo, so I could see how easy it was to change them should I ever want to.

Upon actually using the pedal, I found it to be surprisingly sensitive and therefore very comfortable to use. The weight took a little getting used to, as I usually push my pedal about with my foot as I change position during tattooing, but this was a small price to pay for such a solid piece of equipment.

Shortly afterwards I caught up with Steve and Jay and we talked some more about their creation.

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So lets begin by filling in a little bit of background about everyone involved in the production of The Wedge foot pedal. Introduce yourself to the readers…

Jay: I began working as a professional tattoo artist in May 2011, after spending 12 years in the building trade since leaving school. I’m still very new to the tattoo world and with lots more to learn still;, But I feel its my destiny now.

Steve: Since leaving school in 1998 I have worked in various jobs using AutoCAD, drawing a range of things from buildings to engineering components. I started my own little venture called Sit CutsAlot with a work colleague of mine, Matt Makins. We make any custom metal artwork ranging from tea coasters to wall signs. You can have a look at www.sircutsalot.com. It was from this that Jay and I met and developed The Wedge.

 

So tell me more about how the concept of The Wedge first came about?

Jay: I was working at the studio one day when my run of the mill foot switch stopped working…again. Being a sci-fi geek I had recently bought a storm trooper arm rest built by Greg Holmes (designed by Steve) and a set of storm trooper tea coasters, also made by Steve. As the coasters were made from steel, I thought it might be cool to make a foot switch out of one of them to match my arm rest. From there the product went through stages as cardboard, hand sawn wood and milled wood. During this time I sold a few to other tattoo artists, after putting a picture up on Facebook of my prototype. Deep down, though, I thought I needed to make them from metal somehow, so decided to visit various engineering firms, all of which turned me away. I then contacted Greg Holmes to see if he could help but he told me that Steve Miller might be better suited to the job, so I contacted Steve about helping me to design one made from steel. I was pondering over the name, coming up with suggestions like ‘The Big Foot’ and ‘Next Step Foot Switches’ both of which my other half, Clare, thought were stupid. She said, “Just call it The Wedge, that is what is is”. So Steve and I got together over some ink to discuss options…and the rest is history.

 

How does the division of labor break down between you both? Who designs, creates, and assembles them?

Jay:  To start with I would ask Steve if he could make a certain design on request from a customer. He’d send them through and I would assemble them and dispatch them.

Steve: Now we both get ideas for the pedals from customers. I would raw them up using AutoCAD and convert them into a cutting code for a CNC laser. The main base of ‘The Wedge’ was designed using Solidworks sheetmetal feature, which allows you to draw in 3D then convert to a flat pattern for the laser to cut. A 270 ton press break then bends flat meta parts back into 3D shape. These are all manufactured at my place of work, EMS Mansfield Ltd. Once all components have been produced, I will take them over to Jay who installs the wiring, RCA connections and tests them to ensure they work.

 

They look great too. I love that you were able to make one for me using my personal logo. Is every pedal a custom build, or do you have standard models as well?

Jay: There will be 2 versions of The Wedge foot switch. The first will be cut from 2mm 304 grade stainless steel, powder coated in some cases, with stainless steel ID tags, union jacks, The Wedge floor plate, top quality RCA connector and a stainless mounting plate to enable interchangeable (customizable) top pedals The second will be cut from 2mm 304 grade stainless steel, powder coated, plain floor plate, top quality RCA connector, and a geneeric 2-3mm top plate. And will be non customizable.

 

Apart from how great it looks, the other thing I noticed immediately about the wedge was just how bloody heavy it is. How much does each one weigh?

Jay: It’s the heavy weight champion of footswitches. Each one weighs approximately 1.5kg. I was worried about postage costs when I first weighed it at the local post office but the weight is a sign of the quality of the product. Plus it looks awesome.

 

Well it certainly feels like it’s built to last. Every pedal comes with a lifetime guarantee, doesn’t it?

Steve: Yes each pedal comes with a lifetime guarantee, but only on the workings of it. Cosmetic damage is down to the artist to look after. To preserve the look we advise using a softer soled shoe.

 

wedge 1

Have you thought of maybe producing a lighter travel edition for artists traveling to guest spots or conventions? Or maybe even including a non pedal switch device that you could package with the main pedal as an optional travel extra?

Steve: We have considered making a wedge from aluminum, rather than steel. My concerns with that, though, are that aluminum is softer and more prone to bending, resulting in the possible failure of The Wedge. We are also looking into making a Wedge on-off switch that plugs straight into the power supply. This would be lighter and better for travelling with.

 

I’ve noticed also that the pedal works by the top plate pushing down onto a metal bump below it to complete the electrical circuit. No button as such. How have you got around the possibility that metal will eventually bend over time to complete the circuit permanently?

Jay: The top plate of the pedal moves such a small amount, I think about 1-2mm to be precise, and it’s the hardened rubber bushes tat flex slightly to allow movement. The last 4/5 months I’ve been testing different methods and ideas with several tattoo artists around the country and found using two plates is the way to go. The lower the point of contact, the better. It’s nearly impossible to bend two pieces of steel with only a 1/2mm gap, it will always spring back because of the rubber bushes. If the worst was to happen and a constant circuit was made, thanks to simple mechanics, we are able to chop and change each individual component, replacing any defective part. All of which are covered by your guarantee.

 

How do you recommend artists keep the top plate clean? Is there any danger of rust from moisture or spillage?

Steve: We advise artists to use a non alcohol based cleaner to clean their top plates, even though the colors are powder coated they can still be susceptible to thinning. If you were to chip the paint there are no fears of rust as all Wedge components are made from stainless steel.

 

So overall, what do you feel that the wedge offers artists that other pedals don’t?

Jay: Peace of mind. After getting through over £300 worth of ‘run of the mill’ foot switches in 3 years i realized something had to be done. There’s no other pedal out there doing what we are doing. If you get bored of your current design, as long as you own the premium Wedge, you can take off your top plate and order a new design from us without having to order the entire pedal again.

 

And how much do you charge for each pedal?

Steve: Premium Wedges range from £180 – £220 depending on the intricacy of the design of the one included top plate with extra top plates starting at £40. The basic Wedge will be £130, available in a range of colors and the same lifetime guarantee.

 

And where can artists order them from?

Jay: Currently you are able to buy The Wedge direct from ourselves by sending an email to info@thewedgepedals.co.uk. We will ask you to send an image of your design, we will then look at it to see if it is feasible and then send you a price and PayPal invoice. These are made to order so please allow up to 3 weeks for delivery. Killer Ink and Star tattoo will also be stocking The Wedge in the UK, along with a State side investor interested in bringing the Wedge to the US. But we are awaiting confirmation on this final deal.

 

Sounds promising. So what do you see as the future of The Wedge?

We have our targets high and have aimed for world domination. Once “The Wedge” has become a household name we have a few other ideas for customizable, robust, built to last products for tattoo artists. With Jay being the tattoo artist and me being the engineer, we should be able to produce products that will aid and make tattooing easier, more convenient, and personalized for each artist. We have recently given three of the customized Wedges out to top UK artists: one to Dave Perry, another to Chris Jones and the third to Mark Poole. Remember, “The Wedge – Art for your Sole”

 

Got to love a slogan like that!

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