A few months ago Rhiannon Gillis of Amber & Honey reached out to me to commission a hand painted sign for her business. As an interior designer, she appreciates the charm of a hand painted sign. Vinyl has its place, but it just doesn’t have the same charm. I believe that charm is in the hard work and human touch that goes into sign painting.
Preparing wood for an outdoor sign is a lot of work. Prep work took at least 5 times as long as actual hand lettering time! First, I procured outdoor plywood from a lumberyard. Next, I built a special guide which enabled me to cut a perfect circle out of the wood. Then, I sealed the edges with wood glue and painted all sides with two coats of primer, followed by two coats of paint.
The completed sign looked good. But, when we hung it, it just wasn’t big enough. I took the sign home and hung it in my bedroom so I could think about a solution. I had the know-how to build a larger sign, but I couldn’t fit a larger piece of wood into my vehicle. I also wanted to find a solution that wouldn’t break the bank. One morning, looking at the sign from bed, I had an idea. Rather than paint the black frame onto a new, bigger sign, I could build this sign a round black frame.
I proposed the idea to Rhiannon and we moved forward quickly. I wasn’t able to use my circle guide to cut the frame so I had to saw very, very carefully. I covered the old sign with 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint. The frame needed to be sealed with wood glue along its inner and outer edges, and all sides painted with 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint.
I used wood and metal to attached the sign to the two frame pieces. The reinforcements were sealed with wood glue and painted with 2 coats primer plus 2 coats of paint. With a combined 24 layers of paint and primer on the sign, frame and reinforcement hardware, it was finally ready to hang.
In design, there are always unknown variables. We couldn’t know until the sign was hung that it wouldn’t appear large enough on the building. As a graphic designer, my focus is on problem solving. I’ve learned from my art background that it’s always a good idea to take a step back and think. There is almost always a solution you haven’t thought of yet.