Thursday, 21 August 2014

A quick distressed sign.

There seems to be a lot of interest out there in making distressed signs. With so many ways to make one, it can be a little confusing to say the least. In the big picture, it doesn't really matter how you achieve the look, as long as you enjoy the process. Having a background as a sign painter/ scenic artist in the film industry, I've had the good fortune to take my sign aging skills to a whole different level. In the film industry, it's all about speed and being believable, not to mention, the ability to work on all types of surfaces under extreme conditions.

Here's a short post on creating a simple aged sign. I'm also working on a more detailed post on creating a similar type of aged sign, but will include more of the process and materials involved. The one thing I always tried to stress when asked about making aged signs is just look at the real thing. You can find many examples around your town or city, or on the internet. You should also start a detailed file on different types of signs, on different surfaces. For colour reference, I use a common fan deck you get from the paint store. Gee...who would have thought it could be that easy. And don't overlook the fact that the colours have long lost their intensity. Always try to start with a muted pallet, it makes the sign look old with little effort.

I like to play around with different looks, great way to waste time. This sign was more about the aged look than the sign. I start off with a piece of cheap plywood, something with a rough grain. I keep the copy really simple as that's not the focus of the project. I then add an age to the wood, a simple color wash of raw umber and black, nothing fancy. I also apply a release to the wood surface before applying the base colour. I'll go over using release products in the next post. I then coat the board with the base colour and do the layout.

With the layout done, now it's time to do the lettering and boarder. As I mentioned before, keep it simple. Although the white looks like it's straight white, it's actually a mix of white / raw umber and raw sienna. The lettering took around 15 mins. to do, free hand, The trick is to use the right brush. The paint is just your regular latex house paint in an eggshell sheen. I find eggshell works well for lettering. 

The finished sign. Once the paint had dry, I used warm water and a scrub brush to remove the lettering colour and base colour. With the release applied the the board, it makes it a simple task to remove the base color, thus exposing the aged board, no sanding involved. With a little block aging ( will explain in next post) to tweak the sign, the project is almost done. All that is left is to do a wash coat to settle the colours. Hope you enjoyed the post. Thanks for all your emails, its always nice to hear how many of you enjoy my blog and tolerate my writing skills. Thanks

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Wow...An award for the historical sign work I do, what an honour.

A few weeks ago I received a phone call saying I had been nominated, and had won a Lion Award from the Calgary Heritage Authority, in the tradespeople / craftspeople category. I was quite surprised to say the least. It was nice to see the awareness and the recognition of old signs and lettering, and the craft of hand painting them. And that it is viewed as an important part in preserving our history. No digital back then folks!

On Thursday I attended the award ceremonies to receive my award. I was 1 of 2 winners in my category, the other being a Tinsmith for his work in restoring the metal moldings and architectural details on the many old buildings in our city, a true craftsman.The event was also attended by a number of architects and designers involved in restoration work, who were very interested in the type of work I do. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it. I also had a chance to joke around with Calgary's Mayor Nenshi, who I must say, had a great sense of  humour. It's been a long and bumpy road learning my craft, not to mention making a living as a sign painter, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

  Our City's Mayor Nenshi giving a speech on the important of preserving our city's history. I had a chance to talk with him after the event, and he came across as a really nice person. He mentioned I should maybe hand paint all his re-election signs, He sure has a good sense of humour.

It's always something to get up in front of a crowd. It's also a good time to make sure your fly is done up. I was also asked if I would like to do a short speech, no pressure there. I  decided to talk about the importance of signs, and not letting the craft be forgotten. And any restoration from the past, needs to be done the way it was originally done. Stencils and vinyl weren't around back then. The funny thing is, in 50 years, someone will be restoring the digital and vinyl stuff  being done today. I guess that's what you call the full circle.

                                                     Now to find a good spot for it to live.