Chasing the Blue Birds of Happiness, may also be aspiring to environmental excellence.



Symbols are an important part of our lives. They are a way of telling the work of one man from another and in this case, vehicles from different manufacturers. This article tells how we went from a sculpture of the blue bird, to a photograph, and from there to an enameled radiator badge and steering wheel motif. The process describes a traditional method of making heraldic symbols, that anyone can enjoy using the most basic of tools.



  Hand crafted vehicle radiator or bonnet badge


The bird mark was registered to preserve the color blue as part of the identifying heraldic symbol - now to locate it on a vehicle bonnet resplendent in hue. We begin with a sheet of aluminium and a piercing saw as used by jewelers. A piercing saw is like a very fine coping saw. They only cost a few pounds from good hobby shops. To save time a printout of the bird is bonded to the aluminium with craft mount spray adhesive. We are making radiator and steering wheel motifs here.





Coming in from a convenient edge, the piercing saw is used to cut around the bird using a jig-sawing motion. These saw blades are extremely thin and easy to snap. So be careful. Use long smooth strokes. This is the steering wheel motif, which is the smaller of the two badges we are making today.





The second bird blank is a repeat of the first, except that it is larger, so took more time to cut. Be patient. If you rush you are more likely to make mistakes. The process requires careful concentration. So, have a hot beverage on the go, to keep up your sugar levels.




In not very long you'll have your aluminium blanks. You could just as easily use copper or brass, but we needed to save weight. We will be making more of these car badges in brass to try out different shades of blue and include other artwork prior to enameling. The use of silver and gold is also an option. Especially silver, which is easier to work into intricate shapes and solder to when making 3D shapes. Silver solder is a high temperature alloy that does not contain lead or tin. It is also very strong as a brazing material for joining other metals, such as stainless steel.



Enameled aluminium badges, hand crafted collectables


Here are the badges enameled in blue. They need to be mounted on a suitable background to emphasize their form. This is sure to need experimentation to find the right combination for the marque (brand).



Eco car: the Ecostar DC50 under construction


Here is the car that will carry the distinctive badges above. The radiator grille is just crying out for adornment in this picture.



The making of a legend - blue bird radiator badge


So we fitted a badge to see what the blue bird looks like in practice. We liked it, even without any more work on the marque's detailing. Have you ever noticed that the front of a car looks a bit like a face? Car makers employ armies of designers to give their vehicles faces that people will want to buy.




Close up of the bonnet badge fitted without any background. A background to the blue bird motif is in the pipeline.




Ultimately, the radiator badge was inspired by our feathered friend below. Sir Malcolm Campbell became a fan of the blue bird, in turn inspired by Maurice Maeterlinck's play 'Chasing Happiness,' later known as the "Blue Bird of Happiness." Below are a few pictures of the happy chappie.



Blue Bird of North America   


The North American Blue Bird is a fine example of nature adapting life to suit its environment. The cousins of this fabulous creature have inspired branding across the globe, from toffee to software - including the vehicle motifs on this page.





Vitreous enamel, also porcelain enamel in US English, is a material made by fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850 C (1,380 and 1,560 F). The powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating on metal, or on glass or ceramics. The term "enamel" is most often restricted to work on metal, which is the subject of this article. Enameled glass is also called "painted". Fired enamelware is an integrated layered composite of glass and metal. The word enamel comes from the Old High German word smelzan (to smelt) via the Old French esmail. Used as a noun, "an enamel" is a usually small decorative object, coated with enamel coating. Enameling is an old and widely adopted technology, for most of its history mainly used in jewelry and decorative art. Since the 19th century the term applies also to industrial materials and many metal consumer objects, such as some cooking vessels, dishwashers, laundry machines, sinks, and tubs. ("Enamelled" and "enamelling" are the preferred spellings in British English, while "enameled" and "enameling" are preferred in American English.)

Vitreous enamel can be applied to most metals. Most modern industrial enamel is applied to steel in which the carbon content is controlled to prevent unwanted reactions at the firing temperatures. Enamel can also be applied to copper, aluminium, stainless steel, cast iron or hot rolled steel, as well as to gold and silver.

Vitreous enamel has many excellent properties: it is smooth, hard, chemically resistant, durable, scratch resistant (5-6 on the Mohs scale), has long-lasting color fastness, is easy to clean, and cannot burn. Enamel is glass, not paint, so it does not fade under ultraviolet light. A disadvantage of enamel is a tendency to crack or shatter when the substrate is stressed or bent, but modern enamels are relatively chip- and impact-resistant because of good thickness control and thermal expansions well-matched to the metal. The Buick automobile company was founded by David Dunbar Buick with wealth earned by his development of improved enameling processes, circa 1887, for sheet steel and cast iron. Such enameled ferrous material had, and still has, many applications: early 20th century and some modern advertising signs, interior oven walls, cooking pots, housing and interior walls of major kitchen appliances, housing and drums of clothes washers and dryers, sinks and tubs cast iron bathtubs, farm storage silos, and processing equipment such as chemical reactors and pharmaceutical process tanks. Structures such as filling stations, bus stations and Lustron Houses had walls, ceilings and structural elements made of enameled steel. One of the most widespread modern uses of enamel is in the production of quality chalk-boards and marker-boards (typically called 'blackboards' or 'whiteboards') where the resistance of enamel to wear and chemicals ensures that 'ghosting', or unerasable marks, do not occur, as happens with polymer boards. Since standard enameling steel is magnetically attractive, it may also be used for magnet boards. Some new developments in the last ten years include enamel/non-stick hybrid coatings, sol-gel functional top-coats for enamels, enamels with a metallic appearance, and new easy-to-clean enamels.




The key ingredient of vitreous enamel is a highly friable form of glass called frit. Frit is typically an alkali borosilicate chemical with a thermal expansion and glass temperature suitable for coating steel. Raw materials are smelted together between 2,100 and 2,650 F (1,150 and 1,450 C) into a liquid glass that is directed out of the furnace and thermal shocked with either water or steel rollers into frit.

Color in enamel is obtained by the addition of various minerals, often metal oxides cobalt, praseodymium, iron, or neodymium. The latter creates delicate shades ranging from pure violet through wine-red and warm gray. Enamel can be transparent, opaque or opalescent (translucent), which is a variety that gains a milky opacity with longer firing. Different enamel colors cannot be mixed to make a new color, in the manner of paint. This produces tiny specks of both colors, although the eye can be tricked by grinding colors together to an extremely fine, flour-like powder.

There are three main types of frit, usually applied in sequence. A ground coat is applied first; it usually contains smelted-in transition metal oxides such as cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese, and iron that facilitate adhesion to steel. Next, clear and semi-opaque frits that contain material for producing colors are applied. Finally, a titanium white cover coat frit, supersaturated with titanium dioxide, creating a bright white color during firing, is applied as the exterior coat.

After smelting, the frit needs to be processed into one of the three main forms of enamel coating material. First, wet process enamel slip (or slurry) is a high solids loading product achieved by grinding the frit with clay and other viscosity-controlling electrolytes. Second, ready-to-use (RTU) is a cake-mix form of the wet process slurry that is ground dry and can be reconstituted by mixing with water at high shear. Finally, electrostatic powder that can be applied as a powder coating is produced by milling frit with a trace level of proprietary additives. The frit may also be ground as a powder or into a paste for jewelry or silk-screening applications.









Marque or 'make' are often used to denote a brand of motor vehicle, which may be distinguished from a car model such as a Ford Fiesta, where the marque is 'Ford' and the model is 'Fiesta.'  The pictures above give you some idea of the number of brands there are and how important the design of a badge is in identifying one maker from another.


Brand is the "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's product distinct from those of other sellers." Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising. Initially, livestock branding was adopted to differentiate one person's cattle from another's by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal's skin with a hot branding iron. A modern example of a brand is Coca-Cola which belongs to the Coca-Cola Company.


In accounting, a brand defined as an intangible asset is often the most valuable asset on a corporation's balance sheet. Brand owners manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value, and brand valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a money value to a brand, and allows marketing investment to be managed (e.g.: prioritized across a portfolio of brands) to maximize shareholder value. Although only acquired brands appear on a company's balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value.


The word "brand" is often used as a metonym referring to the company that is strongly identified with a brand. A concept brand is a brand that is associated with an abstract concept, like breast cancer awareness or environmentalism, rather than a specific product, service, or business. A commodity brand is a brand associated with a commodity. Got milk? is an example of a commodity brand.




Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander". The word, in its most general sense, encompasses all matters relating to the duties and responsibilities of officers of arms. To most, though, heraldry is the practice of designing, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and heraldic badges.

Historically, it has been variously described as "the shorthand of history" and "the floral border in the garden of history". The origins of heraldry lie in the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by iron and steel helmets. Eventually a formal system of rules developed into ever more complex forms of heraldry.

Though the practice of heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still very much in use. Many cities and towns in Europe and around the world still make use of arms. Personal heraldry, both legally protected and lawfully assumed, has continued to be used around the world. Heraldic societies exist to promote education and understanding about the subject.








This website is Copyright 2014 Bluebird Marine Systems Limited.  The names Bluebird, Bluefish, Ecostar DC50, and   

   the blue birds and fish in flight logos are trademarks. The color blue is a protected feature of the marks.