The genius of Dan Seese: Sign, Glass, gilder and creative decorator
Every so often one bumps into simply astonishing people on the net…
Just the other day I chanced upon US (Colorado) based Dan Seese http://www.danseesestudios.com, and extraordinary craftsman with a huge passion for not only what he does, but for what others do around him.
Talking to Dan was different though… here was a bloke absolutely brimming with ideas and knowledge that I felt a strong kinship toward – like I felt toward Dave Smith. It’s a brethren thing we all cherish.
Sign writing and gilding is making a revival because of the peripheral knowledge and sightings of Dan’s beautiful workmanship and others like him.
His work is alive!
In this article he describes how to create the illusion (and reality) of frosted glass. Now while I don’t normally promote the use of vinyl screens and treatments, I read on and found his understanding of the materials and hand cutting made the difference in both aesthetic design and client satisfaction.
Sometimes a project calls for concealing the view through a window. There are a number of ways to create obscure-glass, always driven by the needs of the situation. A solid sandblasted panel allows the light to come through but nothing can be seen on the other side of the glass.
Glue chipping creates beautiful random patterns in the glass which maintain some clarity but which distort the light so that everything is blurred.
Ashaded etching will have gradations of clear and etched areas – similar to airbrushing.
All of these options can be done in the studio and later installed, but when an existing window needs to be obscured on-location, the options are limited – especially if completely replacing the window is not in the budget.
On several occasions I’ve found that applying a transluscent vinyl film which simulates etched glass to be a perfect solution.
Obscure Glass: Mr. Moonlight, using “etched glass” films
Recently I had a client who wanted the window in the master bathroom to be fully obscured. The window beside the tub looked out onto the private deck of the home, but it was completely clear, providing no privacy without drawing the shade. Together we established a theme and I created a playful drawing, inspired in part by a moon face in a children’s story book. The end result gave the bathroom a whimsical ambiance allowing plenty of light during the day and no need to draw the shades at night.
I covered the entire glass with 3m “Dusted Crystal” film and then, after cutting the illustration out of 3m “Frosted Crystal” film, I applied it as a second layer. I combined both computer-aided cutting with my plotter, as well as hand cutting.
The main caveat in this method is that I try to round corners and also instruct the customer to take care when cleaning the surface so as not to catch the corners on the design elements and cause it to lift.
This application is obviously not the same as if you were to permanently alter the glass through more traditional methods, but over the years I’ve found it to be an appropriate approach to creating obscure glass where the situation calls for it.
Some previous projects with similar treatment:
Obscure Glass: Etched film on window above bath tub
Recently, historic restoration specialist Tom Tisthammer of Wattle & Daub Contractors was showing me his collection of antique signs, drawing my attention to one of his favorites – a sign with an “aggregate” background. As I examined this little gem, an office-building sign identifying the “Acousticon Neumeyer Company”, I saw that it was a prime example of …
What it means to have a sign written by hand – and not by digital stencil!
I am a dedicated professional sign artist with 31 years of experience and dedication by brush… I speak with a lot of writers who have given it up – they have sadly opted for digitally produced stencils (it’s always a good idea to check your signwriter will paint your sign by hand brush – without digital stencil).
The stencil is cut by computer and laid in place – it is low tack after it is rubbed in and flat the stencil is painted with a flat fill-in brush and when that coat is just dry the stencil is peeled off leaving a sharp digital painted letter – a lot like vinyl in final appearance but without the problems of shrinkage.
I find this really quite sad and alarming – are some touting Traditional Signwriting? Often yes and the unsuspecting client pays for a traditional painted sign and gets a quick stencil rip.
When a sign writer crafts your logo with the brush it comes from thousands of hours of dedication – it embodies this dedication in a flowing emblemic quality, that fills the work with a whole essence of artistry and commercial power… and if needed either the warmth of traditional sign romance, classic elegance or cool minimalism.
For example on a straight letter a writer will flair the letter at the corners to add a sharpness, refinement and tempo.
The Traditional writer will adjust letters at will. I, for example change certain letters if I feel the font is designed solely for paper or on-screen reproduction. Good writers improve fonts.
Either way a digital sign stencil can’t match the human in human terms can it… and yes while digital is by nature pin point accurate, it should cost you far less, because it is only a shade better than cheap vinyl and incredibly easy to produce. There are skills involved but zero artistry.
Digital stencils are used and passed off as genuine signwriting and that is what I aim to head you up on here – the final artwork will lack flow, depth and beauty. But if you want it, go to a non traditional sign company and get a good deal at the right price.
Nick specialises in today’s retail decorative painted signs. Producing classical Copperplate scripts, Roman lettering, Fine Classical block fonts, Retro Vintage sign replication, murals, traditional pub signwriting, traditional van writing, glass gilding, architectural gilding and gold leaf lettering.
In the modern world NGS utilise full digital design technology and logo vectorisation. I can replicate your logo perfectly… yet always completing it in paint, by hand. In fact recently a lot of projects involved hand rendered layouts and traditional painting. Hand painting always adds life the your signwork… and life adds to it’s communicability.
Hand Painted signwriting for Queen’s dressmaker Stewart Parvin of London
SEE THE VIDEO MAKING THE POD Mural, at Mansion House, London
Revival of the hand painted sign
Today I am still proudly producing some of the nicest hand painted creative signs in the capital. Have a wander around the site and I hope you are inspired by the varied projects I have displayed here – feel free to ask questions and contact me for a chat about your design project anytime.
If you are looking for visually stunning traditional signwriting, you may have just found the solution…
As part of my service, start-up or up-and-running, I can assist you with logo re-creation, sign design, colour schemes and layout options.
I have been a sign writer since 1981, and while I am constantly developing modern computer based designs, traditional skills are my greatest asset – The unique quality of traditional sign writing is the richness found in the personal touch, and in this digital age signwriting is enjoying a renaissance.
It’s ironic too, because as the most cost effective sign solution it often looks the best of all, especially in gold leaf. Equally good on listed buildings, glitzy retail sites and quintessential English public houses, it remains a signature of hand made perfection and quality.
With a traditional painted sign from my pallet it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds; a beautifully bespoke product… with a truly modern and affordable service.
If you need any input, samples or advice feel free to contact me.
NGS 20 Ivymount Road, London, SE27ONB, United Kingdom