We’ve taken a few months off from spotlights as we presented the round table articles. So, let’s kick off this spotlight #TheGopherProject with Hank Furnbach better known as TRADiTREE and Traditreepaint. Traditree is a traditional pocket stringing tool. While, Tradipaint is a non-traditional method of painting a lacrosse head. Instead of dyeing a head with RIT or Laxdip, Hank uses a special mixture of paint to customize the head. Now these paint jobs can run up the cost of a new head alone but let’s see why!
Kevin- “You’re only one of two people I’ve seen that have painted heads (@ClanStringing is the other), How did you come up with the idea and technique?
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Hank- I would say that it started back in September 2016. I tried painting an old head with regular spray paint. As we all know, that doesn’t work very well. I started to do more research and I headed down the path of the auto body industry. A car bumper is not too different than the plastics used in lax heads. I went ahead to learn as much as I could about automotive paint techniques.
Kevin- “How durable is the paint once it’s been cured?”
Hank- Lets go ahead and use the car bumper analogy again. If you take care of it, it will look like it’s off the showroom floor. If you smash it into a tree or drag it along concrete, it will be chipped and scraped. The head I painted for ECDLax for Ryan Drenner took a lot of abuse in the all-star game. I would say that he is an extreme case.
Kevin- “How long does it take you from start to finish to complete?”
Hank- It depends on what I am doing. The typical steps are:
- Remove ball stop and any jewels.
- Rough up it with a scotch brite pad. I use a bench top blast cabinet.
- Clean the head. I use an automotive grease and wax remover.
- Spray adhesion coats. I usually use two coats.
- Immediately after adhesion coats I spray on an intercoat or a color keyed primer for two
- more coats.
- Now if I am doing a ColorShift I would spray at least two coats of the Shift. A candy head I would spray two coats of a coarse aluminum metallic. Metal flake heat I will spray two coats of a complementary pearl color.
- If a ColorShift, I would do two or three coats of an intercoat to “lock it down”. A candy is a different story. I would spray a minimum of three coats to 12 coats. It depends what I want to achieve. Metal flake will take 2 or three very light coats to reach the coverage I want.
- The Candy and metal flake, I would now do 2 or 3 intercoat as a lock down.
- After the intercoat is dry I would wet sand the head with 2000 grit sandpaper. Clean and dried.
- The final process is applying a coat of a clear high gloss ceramic. After four days the clear coat is cured and ready to be used.
- In some cases like the head I finished for Kevin, before the clear coat I added color accents to the metal flake with a candy finish. I had 3 coats to achieve the color I wanted. I then painted 3 coats of intercoat. Followed by sanding the then ceramic clear coat.
Kevin- “Are there any limitations to the heads or paints?”
Hank- The only limitations I find with the heads are the small area to do techniques on. What I mean is that I would like to do more of the “art” stuff you come to think of when you think of airbrushing. You know, scales, koi fish, realistic flames. Etc.. As for the paints, I see no limitations.
Kevin- “What are the ideal heads to paint and why?”
Hank- Any heads are fair game to paint. I have my personal favorites, but that is only my preference.
Kevin- What is next for TradiTreepaint?
Hank- What is next? I recently added a larger paint booth. My first one I made myself and only was 20‘ x 20” x 20”. The new one is 32” x 32” x 32”, which means I can now paint Goalie Heads and helmets. With the helmets I can start adding elements that I cannot do on the average lacrosse head.
Kevin- “We need to discuss TRADiTREE, how long did it take you to create the original version?”
Hank- The first version I had was cut from plywood many years ago. After a long hiatus from stringing, I started back up when my youngest son said that he wanted to play lacrosse. After he started playing, I took stringing back up. Mind you that it was over 25 years since I was stringing, I didn’t have my wooden jig. Needless to say, I got the stringing bug back. In Sept. 2014 both my sons where gone to college and my wife went back to school to get certified for a second job she was doing. I was left alone with the dogs with nothing to do. So, I set forth to design the TRADiTREE we know today. In two months, I had went through five different designs and in mid-October I settled on one. I sent out two prototypes to people who were very active in IG to get their opinion. So, on November 1, 2014 I released the TRADiTREE. It sold out in 2 hours. To answer your original question, over 25 years.
Kevin- “You’ve had everything from the original, Pita, 6 shooter, Pro, women’s, BAT, and many more, What’s next?
Hank- There are a couple of ideas I have been working on. One that the community keeps asking for is a GoalieTree. I have a design but it would cost too much to produce and would be too high of a street price. I am still working that one out.
Kevin- “For someone that has never tried the Traditree before, what can you say to them?”
Hank- The TRADiTREE is a tool. It is there to help string your traditional pockets. Don’t be afraid to mess things up, you will. But, with the TRADiTREE you won’t have to worry about the leathers moving all around, you can concentrate on what you are creating. I have had first time traditional stringers tell me that they were intimidated to try a pocket but the TRADiTREE gave them the confidence to explore their creativity. So, I would say, “get one and string.”
Leading up to this spotlight, I sent Hank a StringKing Mark 2V to paint with whatever style he could think of, as long as it incorporated grey and green.
Thank you for reading. Remember to tag all string ups with #thegopherproject to earn string up of the week honors.