Monday, January 23, 2012

Sign How-To

One scene in the play Collapse, by Allison Moore, is set to the blinking light of a Minneapolis landmark: the Gold Medal Flour sign.  My set design for this show now includes several other signs inspired by local landmarks.

But how to build them?

The coffee shop sign was the simplest to build - a wooden board with a painted coffee-cup-n-spoon reminiscent, though not matching, one local spot and many other signs around the country from that era.  Easy: cut a board, trim it, base paint it, render a cup-n-spoon, letter it etc., then figure out how to hang it.

The sign with wavy "river" lines (inspired by a landmark property) was almost as easy.  Another board - almost 6' long - with painted lines and lettering.  This was harder though, because at almost 6' long it's difficult to keep lettering straight and keep waves from... going crazy.  So all this had to be drafted; then those drawings peeled off my board; the rear of the drawing blackened with graphite; then flip it, place it, and trace it onto the board.  Paint with a steady hand.  Last step - drill holes, attach clips, and install blue rope light so "waves" will light up.  The volunteers doing that work did a terrific job.

Looks cool!

The "FLOUR" sign?  I anticipated a horrible time cutting out letters, but got lucky.  The automated cutters used in frame shops to cut picture mats can cut letters too!  Letters turned out to be the easy part.  But then letters needed 1" diameter holes cut in them (with a drill bit) so light bulbs can be installed.  A metal-strut frame needed to be built.  Letters had to be mounted on the frame.  Then lights installed.  Later this week, I'll be figuring out how to make the raised rims or edge bands around the letters...

The audience will see cool, local-ambiance signs, but will have no idea how much work went into them.
Believed public domain images

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