Signmaking In Glass And Gold

Signmaking today isn’t what it once was. Where today a few vinyl letters stuck to a piece of plate glass is good enough for any storefront, there was a time when the signs in front of businesses were works of art involving many skills and dozens of tradesmen to create. [David Smith] is one of the last remaining old-school signmakers, and his creations are just as beautiful as the finely crafted signs of a century ago.

The techniques [David] uses to create his signs are as varied as the finished products are elegant. He cuts patterned grooves into glass with wheels made of diamond or ceramic and bends shaped glass over forms in a very large kiln.

Aside from cutting, shaping, and grinding glass, [David] also paints his signs – on the back side in reverse, building up his design layer by layer. The very first layer in some of his designs are gold leaf, a difficult material but [David] invented his own leaf applicator that makes the job much easier.

Truly amazing works of art, and certainly much more elegant than whatever plastic nonsense goes as proper signmaking these days.


6 thoughts on “Signmaking In Glass And Gold

  1. I’ve watched my father, growing up, hand lettering racecars and signs, and as a second generation sign maker myself, I am always intrigued by the skill and craftsmanship that goes into making a work of art. People who take pride in their work today are truly few and far apart.

  2. Seeing this makes you wonder how much we’ve gone forward and how much we’ve gone back or are losing. Maybe it’s a question of how long a business stays in business that determines how much to spend on their signs. Still, beautiful work.

    On a technical note, the music level of the video was overwhelming especially in contrast to the soft spoken [David].

  3. Some skills are a reflection of the artist as master of their medium. And there’s a sentiment of commercial works being somehow cheapened as work-for-hire. Which is to me rather dubious if not overtly silly. The master’s skill is what it is.

    Make no mistake- this work stands on it’s own for sheer craft skill.

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