We were very privileged to be asked along for a sign writing session a couple of weeks ago with the costume and performance design department at the Arts University Bournemouth.
We were working with scenic painting students to create vintage fairground props for a production of “Oh, What A Lovely War”, undertaking most of the lettering ourselves but also instructing and getting the students involved in some of the basic techniques of hand painted lettering.
I worked on hand-drawn designs and pounce patterns prior to the session. We had limited time so we wanted to get started with the students on pouncing and painting the lettering.
Once we had finished the lettering, the students were applying a crackle glaze over the top of the props in order to give an aged, weathered effect.
New hand-painted sign just finished for a revamped hair salon in Christchurch, Dorset.
This one is significant for me as it’s mostly my own work and I was involved in all stages of production – from the design and layout, to the hand lettering.
The client had a strong idea of the style they were after but I was given a lot of freedom with the typography and overall look of the logo and board; and Vaughan was keen for me to see this one through and, apart from assistance with the fascia preparation and second-coating of the lettering, he let me get on with signwriting this one myself.
Here is a slow and fairly uninteresting video I took while on a job this week. It does take a while to paint that zero – in my defence I was working approximately four inches off of the ground and in conditions I’m unaccustomed to.
The close of 2013 has found me thrown into some fairly interesting projects and, though I’m still in the early stages of my progression, these projects have provided me with some valuable experience. After the first twenty minutes on this job, it soon became apparent that I was about to learn some of the problems that can be encountered while hand painting letters outside in the British winter time.
We were on site in Totton, Hampshire where we had to signwrite three crane weights measuring 3 metres by 800mm each. We attempted to pounce the letters onto the concrete blocks using chalk but we immediately encountered problems with damp. Despite wiping the surfaces dry prior to pouncing, the chalk lines would soon evaporate as a new layer of moisture settled upon the concrete. On top of this, the masking tape we were using to hold the pounce patterns in place was taking off the existing layer of paint from the concrete blocks!
We then had to resort to hand-drawing the letters out in white pencil, a method that was time consuming but at least ensured the letters remained in place long enough to begin applying paint. With no break in the clouds and little warmth the surface would not stay dry for long and it grew increasingly difficult and frustrating trying to paint to the lines.
What followed was a fairly testing day – progress was slow and the morale waned on many occasion as we struggled with a surface that was unworkable. We had to abandon the job at 4pm due to the rapidly receding daylight and made plans to return the following day to try and finish the work.
Despite a wary anticipation about returning to the job, not helped by a thick morning mist that seemed reluctant to shift, leading me to predict another fraught day, we seemed to hit a good spell. We had managed to negotiate the use of a gas powered heater which the staff on site very kindly powered up for us. This kept the surfaces dry and we managed to power through the remainder of the work along with second coating where required and touching up the numerous areas that had proved problematic the previous day. Here are the results……
And the moral of this story……. Signwrite in the summer!!
My attention was recently drawn to the work of Dad’s Paper Signs from New Hampshire, USA.
Poster lettering has, I imagine, suffered an even worse decline than signwriting since the advent of cheap digital print shops and home printers, which is a shame as it appears to me to represent hand-lettering in its purest form as work of this nature seems more dependent on instinct in both the lettering style of the painter and his / her eye for layout, spacing and colour.
Again, it’s something I remember seeing a lot as a child, spending time at the family workshop – rolls of fluorescent paper adorned with fat, bold letters advertising sales and special offers – bright and visually striking.
Check out the link above for more from Dad’s Paper Signs.