Sandwich board signs can vary a lot in size & design, & therefore cost of production. they can also vary wildly in terms of quality too. They can be produced using metal legs, metal panels, wooden legs, mdf panels, plywood panels, Different thicknesses of panels or type of wood to produce the frames & legs. All this affects the cost of not just the amount paid for the completed manufactured board, but also in terms of how long the board is likely to last & therefore be replaced.
Due to this the difference between having sandwich board signs written on by a chalkboarder in pens & it being signwritten by signwriter is a large one. Mainly in terms of time consumption but also in terms of prep work involved & the difference in final appearance. As a result it should be expected that hand painted prepared & signwritten sandwich boards will cost a large difference than if written on in chalk pen. The cost does mean that the end product should be far superior too though.
Having already produced an A-board for a client already, they knew what was involved, the cost but also the final product too, so repeat clients Leviticus Tattoo Emporium had no problem providing another board to be produced. The existing one I had already produced is on display on the pavement at one end of the alley way their studio is based, so they requested another for the opposite end of the alley.
As per before, they supplied a board they felt was suitable for the job. It was pointed out that the panels were a little flimsy as only a few mm thick mdf & would benefit from plywood being fitted behind each panel. This time round they did supply a fresh A-board, where as previously it was a restoration. That still meant that making the sandwich board durable it needed sanding down to remove wood stain & scuffing the coated mdf panels so the oil based wood primer would take to it all.
The A-board was taken apart with its hinges & hooks kept so could be re-fitted once completed. Each side of the sandwich board frame & panel was painted with oil based pink wood primer on each panel. This is done in 2 stages as dry time is required between laying the paint on the ‘top side’ of each panel & then the ‘underside’ of each panel.
The process is repeated for the undercoat & again dry time is essential. Then the top coat is applied in the same way & again allowed to dry.
The flat panel still needing the top coat applied but the legs & frame having already been given the top coat. Its essential the boards are painted flat to avaid any runs or rippling when drying. these sandwich board panels had been glued in with a clear mastic around the frame edges. This is ideal for chalk boards that arent painted to be protected a little from the wet weather, but oil based paint doesn’t stick to mastic & flakes off when dry if any of it does stick, so the mastic was cut out using a scalpel blade. The mastic isn’t needed when painted with oil based paint as that acts as a waterproof barrier itself.
Once the top coat is dried & cured, its able to have the signwriting produced on each of the panels.
The design is then reliefed onto each board & positioned in the middle. This can be seen by the chalk lines. The sign writing is then painted on bit by bit. On this panel, starting with the drop shadows. This was done just to make seeing the layout easier to see incase the chalk lines got wiped accidently.
The gold size was then applied by brush & the gold leaf applied by laying the sheets onto the painted gold size. This is then allowed to dry. When producing 2 sides of a sign this makes things a bit easier as one panel can dry while the other is painted & produced. The other panel I started from top to bottom rather than starting with the main writing shadows. It could’ve just been repeated but I wanted to see how the top section of the panel would look before painting it on the already gilded panel.
Once happy with the scrolls & address signwriting, the gold size was added to the main lettering on the second panel, so the writing could have the gold leaf applied & be left to dry.
The gold leaf signwriting was burnished once dry, which smoothes the gold to the surface & removes any excess gold too. This is done using a specialist soft hair brush. The drop shadow was then painted onto this panel, but had already been done on the other panel. So this left the rest of the signwriting to just be produced. A smaller size brush was used & tape to keep a nice crisp top & bottom line to the lettering & the shadows.
The shadows were a mix colour of the panel top coat with a little brown & black added just to give it depth but not too obvious, which black would’ve done. It also helps in creating the vintage appeal of the whole apperance. The colours were used for the scrolls & the lettering. This kept the panels to a theme of colours & kept it smart but able to break up the colour of lettering.
The single panel completed & just in need of varnish. I decided the scrolls should have a subtle shade too again just to add depth & tie in the letter colours & style. Adding all these bits helped create a lovely looking sandwich board sign. The gold leaf writing could’ve done with a little more attention & better layout but overall I was quite pleased with the look.
Both sides of the A-board completed including their protective varnish. The gold shining brightly as intended.
The sandwich board sign in situ, doing what its meant to & catching the eye of the passing public on both the pavement & in the passing cars. The difference between a well painted & presented sandwich board & blackboard one with chalk pen writing is emense. Just don’t expect one for the same price! There is a lot more work involved, but worth it for the quality. The clients were absolutely over the moon with it!
Traditional & Contemporary Hand Painted Sign writing in London
Sign writer – Traditional Signs of London