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back to the future

Hand Lettering topics: Sign Making, Design, Fabrication, Letterheads, Sign Books.

Moderators: Ron Percell, Mike Jackson, Danny Baronian

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Posts: 251
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2004 7:28 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

back to the future

Post by BruceJackson »

Remember the movie?. The doc and Marty pose for a photo with the new clock tower?

My son Damian and I got to do that recently during this project to restore a clock tower at Kew cemetary in Melbourne.

The clock tower dates from 1899. Three of the four faces of the clock were smashed or badly cracked and one had been replaced with a different design using a metal frame. It needed four new glass faces (10mm toughened low-iron glass) and I was contracted by Bruce Hutton of Almond glassworks to do the gilding and signwriting. Interesting to see the history of repairs inside the clock. It has been re-gilded about every 30-40 years. This was also important in making a design decision.

As it stood, the existing design used "IV" for the numeral four. Being a heritage project, I was told to replace it exactly as it had been done. This kind of gnawed at me because it's all wrong. Clocks should have "IIII". I managed to find an old photo from before 1965 which clearly showed it had previously been done correctly, so I was permitted to use the standard four strokes (it looks so much nicer and balances the weight of the VIII on the opposite side.

We couldn't pass the glass up from inside the tower. It had to be installed from outside. It has a concrete molding with a smaller diameter than the glass, so we cut top and bottom slots to pass each panel through. Winched the glass up in a box through the scaffolding, then carefully maneuver each one into place.
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Danny Baronian
Site Admin
Posts: 638
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2004 2:16 am

Re: back to the future

Post by Danny Baronian »

Nice job Bruce. Bet you were glad to see the last of the pieces installed through those grooves, especially knowing a good twist inserting the glass would not have made a happy ending...

And where is your signature and note after Joe Jamison? :)
Danny Baronian
Baronian Mfg.
CNC Routing & Fabrication
Tyler Tim
Posts: 209
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:12 am

Re: back to the future

Post by Tyler Tim »

I agree... nice bit of work. Only thing is your dressed wrong for 1899... you need a bowler hat, vest and apron... along with a hand truck in the shot. If your lift was like most of mine the wind kicked up after you had it 10 ft off the ground. Please post a couple of photo's when they remove the scaffolding.
Sure I paint thing for my amusement and then offer them for sale. A brushslinger could whither en die from lack of creativity in this plastic town my horse threw a shoe in. :shock:
erik winkler
Posts: 1097
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:48 pm
Location: Amsterdam Netherlands

Re: back to the future

Post by erik winkler »

I get sentmental when seeing this done.
You will be in the history books now, I love that feeling.
14 books also?
Looks very sharp
Bruce Jackson April 2014
Realizing we are in the 2nd renaissance of the arts.
Learn, copy and trying to improve...
Still in the learning phase ;-)
Amsterdam Netherlands
Posts: 251
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2004 7:28 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: back to the future

Post by BruceJackson »

Yes, I signed it too. Of course you have to keep up the tradition!

As for Mr. Holland's claim...

I used 12 books of gold in total. But then, after having many thousands of sheets over the last 30 years, I'm pretty efficient, That's not to brag, it's just a fact. I don't waste much. Plus I was in my studio and set up comfortably. Working on site, I might have used a bit more, because your mindset is different.

I can see how he could have done it in 3 and a half days, but that would be solid going all day and treating it like a "get it done quick" sign. I don't like to work in that head-space. I took 1.5-2 days per face, then sprayed the white backing...basically a couple of weeks including the design work and a day for installation.

You have to remember, that was in 1965. The attitudes were different. Also, they told me the cemetery was low on money at that time and would have gone for the cheapest price. It shows in the work, because the quality of signwriting was fairly ordinary. He probably figured it's four stories high and no one will notice the weakness of quickly bashed-out lettering from that distance. Another thing that is amusing. He obviously couldn't get access to the outside, so the design was marked on the inside of the glass with grease pencil and gilded straight over. You can see all his tick-out lines.

If you get to do a clock face, take note of the distortion in the numerals. If you want it to have that classic look, you need to curve the top and bottom lines so they follow the circumference, and also distort them a little so the base is narrower than the top. You don't need much, but without this, the numbers look bottom heavy and clumsy.
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