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Passing Off As A Sign-Maker For The Day


I am not a professional sign-maker… or a sign-maker of any means so this was a whole new world for me.


We had the pleasure of being taught by Paul Hughes, a sign-maker with 25 years of experience in the field and it’s sufficient to say that he knew what he was talking about. He began by launching into a passionate discussion about sign-making , which had even me feeling excited about it.


“It is like a bridge with no handrails. Some walk straight across, while others zig-zag. But as long as one does not stray too far, we will all reach the same destination.”


Vinyl, the PVC based type anyway, has a memory. It remembers what it was created as and spends life trying to return to that state. (Don’t we all). We covered all the different types of vinyl and it turns out the polymeric vinyl is the sign-makers weapon of choice as it is made with better quality materials and has a relatively long life. The thicker it is, the easier it is to fit it seems.


We then covered the various types of solvents used and what was better suited for which type of use. Following this, Paul showed us the witchcraft which is micro-channeled adhesive, which is available on the full range of vinyls. It makes it so that you can just throw the vinyl onto the surface haphazardly and smooth any bubbles away with your finger. It was quite impressive.


We moved onto discussing the effects that the weather has on different types of vinyl. Paul showed us this by demonstrating another area of his sign-making magic. He placed some vinyl over a bucket and heated it up. The vinyl stretched out and he put his fist into it, stretching it out further. It then cooled into the stretched-out shape with the indentations of his knuckles. Paul then re-applied heat onto it and the vinyl shrunk back into the shape it had originally been in, leaving no trace of its journey – magic!




Who would have thought that weeding would be so therapeutic? We were given our own boards and sets of vinyl that we needed to “weed out” – no, we did not venture into a garden looking for plants. In this area, “weeding” referred to removing the excess vinyl from cut signs and letters. It sounds pretty easy, but I assure you that it was not, using tweezers we pulled back vinyl with precision. Well, the others used precision, I may have lost a letter here and there.


After this was completed, we were given application tape to stick onto what was left of our signs. Once we’d successfully taped our signs onto the board, we learnt how to position it and cut it down into bits, so that the application would be easier.


The squeegee is that that stands between you and the sign. Although it’s quite tempting to just bulldoze through, squeegeeing is actually an acquired technique – if done well. You have to pay attention to the angles and the amount of pressure applied in order to ensure that none of those horrid bubbles are left behind.


Et Voila! You have your sign – a tangible thing you can hold and show off.


This workshop was incredibly hands-on which made it so much fun. I was pretty disappointed when it came to an end. The entire class was eager to get stuck in and at times you could hear a pin drop because of the sheer concentration.


I’m now considering sign-making as a career change due to just how therapeutic and satisfying it was.

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Time’s a Ticking - 20 July 2018
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