Retro signwriting is ideal on a period property to ensure not only that the signwriting is in keeping with the period, but also has a high quality finish to keep the property looking attractive smart. Sadly it is often the case property developers  owners go for a more cost efficient method or company who dont have any idea on retro signwriting  dont give an acurate look in terms of asthetic appeal or correct period syle or font.

A trained or experienced signwriter worth their salt will know this  that may not be the most cost efficient but it is generally the most likely to give a quality end product.

The client had gone to the effort of having the entrance window sandblasted which creates a frosted look. This is the traditional way of producing the look & not using a large frosted vinyl sticker which could peel. Unfortunately the company who produced the sandblasting used a stencil using a font which was not correct for the period of the property. The font had been altered to have triangles instead of serifs as well as a line thickness ‘away’ shadow, which didn’t follow the same lines as the triangular ‘serifs’ This is why retro signwriting is better produced by a traditional signwriter, as they know what they are doing. . . . or if experienced enough should do. This may not be the most cost effective, but is more likely to be the more correct & profesional outcome. Going down the sign maker & vinyl sign company route could end up costing as much as a professional traditional signwriter but also may result in a sub standard resulat as this client ended up with.

Due to the glass having been sand blasted to make frosted there was no way of removing what had been done, so the answer was to alter the font on the outside of the glass in acurate retro signwriting, which covered over the error the vinyl template had created.

The first stage is to hand draw a more correct serif for the numeral one, before applying the size with paint & brush forming nice smooth straight & crisp edges to the sign. Once all is applied its left to go tacky before 23ct gold leaf is applied. The leaf comes in sheet form & has to be applied from backing sheets, pressed onto the signwriting that has been painted & then peeled away. The gold is so fine, it tears when pulled away & only sticks to the applied size.

The gold looks a little rough at this stage as it is yet to be burnished. Burnishing smooths the gold & also assists in creating a more crisp edge around the number. The process for doing this is with either a velvet cloth or a specialist soft brush.

This image shows both numbers with the gold burnished. the edge of the three is far neater than in the previous picture. Usually at this stage the black outlining is added but on this occasion the property required more retro signwriting on a renovated masonry plaque on the front wall. The whole street had one of these plaques, each with an individal name & design. The particular plaque had become far too wethered & as a result the client had made smooth but they start out often with a carved wording which is painted in.

The retro signwriting style was hand drawn onto the plaque. The first drawing just didn’t feel quite right. Maybe to the layman it looked fine but to me the angle of the arc didn’t feel right & seemed a little steep making the N & L difficult to get just right. So The whole drawing was wiped off, a fresh arc was drawn & the lettering re-spaced in the arc.This seemed far better in terms of spacing & readability.

Sometimes smaller lettering has a more beneficial use as it can be spaced better than larger lettering & as a result is more pleasing to the eye. On this occasion having less of a curve & having smaller lettering gave more space to the embelishment which each of the plaques in the street had, so needed to be visually impacting as much as the lettering.

A close up look showing the marking out as well as the retro signwriting having been painted onto the masonry. Once dry the markings are wiped off to leave a more presentable image. The retro signwriting has hand painted subtle ‘loose’ serifs, with a consistant thickness throughout the letters.

An image of the painted plaque taken from ground level showing just how clearly readable the lettering is despite being re-drawn to a smaller size. With that completed it was back to the now dry gold on the entrance transom window. The outlines & drop shadow were painted on & this covered the erroneous original signage. To make good & prevent any of the original signage showing the same signwriting was produced back to front on the other side of the glass. This time, as it was already covered on the outside with real gold, just gold paint was usued on the inside. Once this was dry the final outlining & drop shadow was applied in a fast drying black paint. The whole of the signwriting on the inside of the pane was given a covering of varnish to complete. This was just so that the window could be cleaned & the lettering wouldn’t get affected.

Its becoming more of a trend that clients wish for any signwriting on windows, whether retro signwriting or not, to look the same on the reverse of the glass. The traditional method of applying gold to windows meant the backing on the inside of the glass would be a thick covering of black paint to trap the gold to the glass & make the sign fully opaque. With vinyl stickers being so previlant many people expect the same look & finish when using real gold. The only way this can be achieved is with a ‘matte’ finish gilding like this. Its more time consuming to produce the signwriting twice, so on clear glass its produced by painting only on the inside of the pane. Its only due to this pane being frosted or if the glass has a ridged patten on it the signs is needed both sides to look the same on either side of the glass.

For some reason despite the client making so much effort to the whole property & having the effort made to the window, the vintage lamp was installed & hung too low which covers the gold leaf signwriting! So has added a small slate plaque to show the street number, when that is the job of the numbers in the glass! Still its the clients choice & the best was produced for them & they were happy with the completed result.

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