Still, here's a job that landed in my 'hall of shame' folder.
I was feeling pretty confident. I cut out the letters, a 3D trick involving layering thin plywood over thicker ply, joining the pieces with little brads. I would cut out and sand the shape of the letter outline to some accuracy. Then I'd separate the two parts, cutting the thicker ply to make a thin wall that made a hollow letter, just right for casting. Most metal casting is done as thin as possible to save metal, reduce weight, and made the process easier.
I drew the outline of the wheat onto a big board on the floor, opened a big bag of potter's clay, and got to work. I modelled this in record time, patting myself on the back for being so darned clever: I'd made a press mould for the wheat heads, so that doing the entire array was a matter of pushing the soft clay into the mould, banging it out, and pushing it into place. Man, I felt like some kind of professional.
I added more plaster to be sure, then tied in long steel pipes for more strength. I was being professional, careful.
Next day I tried to lift this. I had to roll it over, right? Huh. It must have weighed 350 pounds. I had to buy a 'come-along'' a winch thing for stretching fencing, fasten it to the ceiling, and slowly winch this mould over. This took me all day.
I don't remember how long the smoothing part took. Awhile. There is this local saying: "I'll be home soon, honey" that is a bit of a joke.
And, of course, this mould had to be filled with a reasonably even 3/8" of epoxy-fibreglass. Sigh, that's a lot of goo to mix and smooth in. A lot of fairing afterwards. I'm not going to look at my old records to see what I got paid for this. I try to avoid pain and embarrassment.
And then, just tonight, I stumble on this photo:
I'd been in business 33 years when I did this job. Just how long does it take to find wisdom? Or, yikes, mastery?