Tattoo signs produced with genuine 23ct gold leaf on a pre prepared carved wooden panel for regular repeat clients.
It was requested to produce an old glass fronted sign with carved lettering behind. The clients got the glass & panel themselves & had it carved using a font chosen by themselves & it being routered out by machine. This is far more cost effective than the traditional method of being drawn out & then carved by hand with wood chisels.
The first stage producing these tattoo signs for me was to give the panel an oil based wood primer which is in pink colour. This is painted not just on the front but on the back too. Its very important that all the wood is protected. Water can & does run down the back of a sign just as much as the front & quite often its this that causes the sign to deteriorate if not well treated. Once all is dry a grey undercoat also in oil based paint is brushed on. care is taken to ensure all the sign is covered, even the areas that will be coated in gold.
The next stage is to wet & dry the surface with fine sandpaper before applying the top coat giving a lovely smooth well covered finish the the panel.
With the top coat dry the gilding can be produced. To do surface gilding oil size is required. This is a clear oil based glue a bit like varnish. Paint is added to it so where has been painted can be seen. A good coverage of the letters are given or the gold won’t stay stuck to those areas. They may to start with but not be durable & may come off when cleaned, so care is taken to make sure all of each letter is painted.
The gold is then pressed onto the laid oil size. This starts off looking flakey, but as its a pure precious metal which has been pressed flat & very fine this is just how its applied & when all has been pressed on its allowed to dry stuck to the oil size.
The gold really hits of the bevel edges of the carved lettering once its been burnished with a soft cloth or brush.
The tattoo signs are beginning to take shape with all the gold applied & the excess wiped away from the edges of the letters. The oil size was then added to the routered coachline border & the gold begun to be added to that. I decided that it was too uch gold & would be better if a little more subtle so wiped the oil size off & decided to paint the border instead & to add some embelishments above & below the boarder in the centre of the panel.
The embelishments were painted on both edges of the panel above & below the border but in a reverse image rather than both designs facing the same way up. A specialist signwriter brush was used for this. The paint used was oil based & matching the colour also used for the border, which toned down the amount of gold & allowed the tattoo signs wording to stand out more than the border.
The lettering all in 23ct gold & the border with embelishments painted in an oil based ivory paint. The wooden frame was given the same prep work of a primer, undercoat & topcoat to give it good protection from the elements but also to match the panel. The clients assembled the tattoo signs at thier studio before mounting it.
Unfortunately the glass couldn’t be sealed in without there being condensation behind it which prevented from looking A1 so the clients decided to remove the glass. Due to their studio being down an allyway the glass wouldn’t been shown off to its best effect anyway, so it doesn’t detract by having no glass in the tattoo signs.
The finished sign is now mounted along the alley wall, with brass sawn neck lamp lighting it up, which looks very smart & vintage. The clients were so chuffed with the work produced.
Traditional & Contemporary Hand Painted Sign Writing in London
Sign Writer Traditional Signs of London