Hydro dipping has one Craig man wrapped up in business
CRAIG — A home-based business has boomed by offering hunters customized immersion printing — hydro dipping or hydro graphics — to apply intricate designs onto skulls, guns, mugs and decorative products.
The business got its start when owner Dwayne Gonzales saw a YouTube video detailing the process about four years ago.
“I wanted to do a couple guns of mine,” he said.
His business — G7 Hydrographics — is named for his family.
“Me, my wife and all our kids. There are seven of us,” he said.
The process starts when Gonzales applies a lacquer thinner to clean the piece; next, etching primer and color base coats are applied. Debbie Herring, at Napa Auto Parts in Craig, is his go-to person for mixing custom paint.
The magic happens when a water-soluble synthetic polymer — or PVA — product, pre-printed with a graphic, is placed on the surface of a tub of water. Once the PVA is activated, the item is carefully submerged, or dipped, into the water, allowing the film to cling to the surface. The final step is an application of clear gloss or flat coats to seal.
“What I’m doing is, I’m chasing air bubbles, and the quality of the finished graphic depends on dipping, getting it in the water right,” Gonzales explained.
The process takes skill.
“For a while, I got frustrated with it. It was fighting me so bad that I almost quit several times, but I stuck with it,” he said. “I am very meticulous to detail, my own worst critic, really. I love doing it. It’s interesting to me. It’s a huge challenge. Every film acts differently.”
His big break came about three years ago, when he began partnering with local taxidermists to provide custom printing on skulls of animals killed by hunters.
“I got to talking with Scott Moore about skulls and went into business with him, and it kind of blew up,” he said.
He now accepts skulls directly from hunters, through Moore’s business —Mountain Man Taxidermy — and from Jeremy Sanders and Josh Wilde, at Bone Head Boilers.
Gonzales also dips gunstocks, Yeti cups, auto parts, light switch plates and “anything that can be submerged in water,” he said.
He has more than 200 PVA films in stock, featuring graphics of carbon fiber, skulls, blood spatter, wood patterns, flags, sticker bomb patterns for kids and more.
Prices are $100 for a deer skull, $150 for elk and $200 for gunstocks. Gonzales will also provide free quotes for dipping other items.
“We deliver nationwide. It’s at a point where I’m super busy, but I still enjoy it. I push myself to do more and more and learn more and more … eventually, I’d like to have a storefront,” he said.
At this point, the business is Gonzales’ side hustle, which he works when he’s not at his full-time job as an equipment operator for the city of Craig, a position he said he loves.
“I want to thank my wife and kids for being patient with me. I’m here (in the basement workshop) a lot, and the clear coat smells bad,” Gonzales said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.