One afternoon I received a call from a property owner in Keswick, VA wanting a sign for her driveway entrance. After meeting with her at her Charlottesville office I was able to prepare a sign design based on what she had in mind: a small, simple, yet elegant oval sign to greet friends as they entered her property, a beautiful 42 acre lot in the heart of Albemarle horse country.
Building a wood sign like she had in mind is very motivating for me! Ever since I attended a handcarved sign workshop in Stowe, Vermont back in 1990, I have been interested in all types of handmade wood signs. Then, over time, with the help of computer-aided-design and manufacturing, I became skilled with V-carved and sandblasted lettering techniques. Nowadays, I generally choose western red cedar as the species of wood for sign panels because I’ve gotten to know its track record of carvability and durability over the years; and this is what I selected as the wood for the Horse Shoe Hill sign.
After she ran my preliminary sign design by her architect, who was at that time working on an extensive remodel on the property, she recommended I alter the base of the post by beefing up the scale some versus using a plain 6X6 post column for the sign pole.
I purchased the cedar panel and had the lettering carved per the approved design drawing. Once that was complete, I routed the edge, sanded the letters, background, and edges, and then primed the surface with two coats of oil-based primer. Once the primer was cured, I applied a heavy coat of hunter green enamel over the entire sign. After a few days of drying, I hit the sign with my pounce powder bag and applied the size for the gold leaf. (The pounce powder prevents the gold from adhering to the fresh enamel background.) After the size set to the proper consistency, I applied the gold leaf. As the sign was drying, I constructed a tall 6X6 post using treated yellow pine. Once that was built I primed and painted the post black and installed a large black iron scroll bracket to the top of the post to hang the finished sign from once installed.
When both the sign and the post were complete, I arranged a date for installation. The architect took care of permitting and I dug a 42″ deep hole to set the post in concrete. I planted the sign post and attached bracing to the post until the concrete cured, after which I installed the sign using stainless steel hardware, and everything was finished. I see that the $6.95 M property is currently for sale in Albemarle County, VA. If you’re looking for it, just look for the nice 23K gold leaf sign! You can’t miss it.
Mark Hackley owns and operates Augusta Sign Company and serves the Waynesboro-Staunton-Augusta County area of Virginia with hand-fabricated signs of all types…(and he has been since 1990!)