I have a lovely project underway at the moment: new 1930’s style signage for the Mohawk Bar in North Adams, Massachusetts, to tie in with their original windows made from ribbed glass tiles. Designed to bring more daylight into the interior of stores and factories, these pressed/cast tiles were widely produced and very fashionable in the days before electric lighting.
I adapted the classic typeface Broadway, adding ‘etched’ lines (decorative parallels on the wide strokes) to provide positions for leadlines that wouldn’t interfere with reading the text.
Thanks to colleagues David Guarducci in Great Barrington, and to Scott, Fred and Sue Shea at Stained Glass Resources (sometimes it takes a village!) I managed to get ahold of some French Verierre de Saint Gobain ruby-on-white flashed glass. The ruby surface of this two-coloured sheet glass can be etched away to expose a clear or amber underlayer.
Sandblasting was done by my good friend and neighbor, sculptor Bill LeQuier, who also carves ocean waves in glass.
I used black masking tape on top of contact paper to mask out the areas to be sandblasted. Next, each pane is painted and fired. My proprietary glasspainting recipe is great for obtaining solid blacks first time over the ruby background.
Careful measurement and old-fashioned geometry.
The existing windows are simple grids of 4″ squares. Washed and polished, they sparkle like new.
Using a portable band saw to cut the zinc profiles.
I’m seriously enjoying working with a new material… cutting miters, filing to precise dimensions. The zinc behaves quite differently to lead. The first panel is now assembled, ready to be soldered, puttied, patinated and polished.