Peter St Sign Restoration – 2015
The current owner of this building explained that the building has been in the family for a long time, but that they wished to keep the fading sign fresh and clean. It was very badly faded and eroded. The building also required extensive brick repair, destroying the sign even more and relegating its existence to a distant memory.
Prior to the brick repairs, we managed to take a number of pictures. This helped, but it was these images combined with a number of historic imagery (we found on the internet) that enabled us piece together the exact image of the original sign.
With images in hand (old, and new) we made a template on the computer using Adobe Photoshop before creating a vector drawing with the help of Adobe Illustrator. We made the vector drawing as faithful of a reproduction of the original as possible, including incorporating minor imperfections. For example, we did not straighten a few crooked lines, and we did not fix any wobble in the curves present on the lettering.
The next step was to create stencils to use for the sign painting process. Normally we would use paint mask vinyl for this type of job, but the substrate was such that this material would not adhere very well, therefore we used 5-year intermediate vinyl. Paint mask vinyl is made with an adhesive that is easy to peel off, if you are working with a surface that is very rough it can be impossible for the vinyl to stick. We sometimes have to use the unconventional approach of actually using real sign vinyl for our stencils that provides the adhesive qualities we are looking for.
After creating the stencil, we can finally get to the painting process. First, the surface must be prepared; this is typically removing loose debris and performing some light cleaning. Next, we thoroughly prime the surface. After the primer has cured, we can apply the first top coat of exterior paint. After this step, we have a large white area upon which we can paint in the details of the sign.
A Genie Z-60/34 provided us the height required to paint this mural. This an articulate boom lift, which means that there are a number of bends in the lift’s main support beam making it very agile for maneuvering in difficult to reach areas.
About Blackhall and Company Limited
Letterpress printing is s form of printing that uses a letterpress. Since Gutenberg developed the first printing press in 1440, the letterpress became one of the most widely used forms of printing. Perhaps the most famous literature printed using the letterpress was the Gutenberg Bible. Gutenberg and his assistants took almost three years to print 180 copies of the Bible. After the innovation of the printing press, people authored, printed and distributed various forms of literature. In many cities across Europe, one could find printer’s workshops. The letterpress came to be a very precious item to have. The letterpress helped to address the arduous task of hand copying manuscripts.
The letterpress works by composing movable type on a bed. The composed movable type represents a single page. The person then inks the movable type and presses paper firmly against the movable type. The ink then transfers from the bed to the paper.
Lithography is a form of printing that employs the concept of the immiscibility of water and grease. The method involves a metal surface that has a smooth surface or a stone. A person treats a flat printing surface with grease and then inks the surface. Blank areas that have moisture will repel the ink. People who knew how to use the printing method held the secret for a long time without letting other people know. In 1818, the inventor of the printing method published a book that explained the printing method in detail.
In the ancient days, there was minimal or no visual technology, people used to advertise their businesses by placing painted signs outside their premises. For example, taverns would hang signs that indicated that there was a pub there. In the 1800s, there were many barn signs and other adverts that drew attention to different products and services. After many years, technology brought better ways to advertise things. The old and faded signs, therefore, became obsolete. Most of the signs appeared on brick walls, and they survived a long time before they faded away. One can find ghost signs in some places across Europe and North America.
Restoring ghost signs is an activity that some conservators are undertaking with zeal. The argument is that these ghost signs help us to have a connection with the past. They link the modern world to the olden days when paint was the main ingredient used to make one’s business visible. One of the restored ghost signs is at 79 Peter Street, Ontario, Canada. The ghost sign was on a building that housed the Blackhall and Company Limited. The restored sign helps to remind people of the presence of the company that has since closed down.