Signs Never Sleep
.................................................the official weblog of Lincoln Sign Company
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Monday, September 27, 2004
The New Yankee Workshop films an episode at Lincoln Sign Company
This has been an exciting, long, and somewhat unreal day. The crew from New Yankee Workshop paid us a visit today and filmed a segment for their show at our shop. This is my first mention of this on the weblog but I intend on going back and entering information about the week leading up to the event (look for events starting on 9-17-04), and then the actual day itself.
One of the nice things about this weblog, is not only the fact that I can keep anyone who is interested up-to-date about what is happening with our company, but it also serves as an "archive" for the company, and this was definitely a big day for Lincoln Sign Company.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Spit-shining the shop
The majority of my day was occupied with the remainder of the last-minute prep for the show.
Gordon from ShopBot Tools arrived for dinner. We were all entertained by two unusually chatty little boys who were ready and willing to discuss a wide range of topics such as NASCAR, football, the Mars Rovers, the X-Prize and hurricanes.
After dinner, Gordon and I went into the woodshop to look over the router to make sure that all was in readiness for tomorrow and I spend a lot of time gushing about how much I like the ShopBot. It has been an incredibly dependable piece of equipment and has never let is down.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Cleaning the Shop
Vicki and the kids drove down to Derry, NH (where we lived prior to moving to Lincoln) for a playmates birthday party. I stayed behind and did a lot of organizing and cleaning for the filming on Monday. There is quite a lot to be said for the "clean-as-you-go" school of thought as I came upon many piles of junk that I had been ignoring for months. (I have always been firmly in the "ignore-it-as-you-go" school).
Filled the van to the brim with trashbags and bric-a-brack which I will take to the dump tomorrow. I hope Norm appreciates the fact that I missed out on cake and ice cream on his account.
The family that paints together, stays together
Here was the Friday evening activity for all of us, painting together in the shop. Vicki is working on Gold Leafing the carved sign for Lunenberg School in VT and then that job is completed!
Ben and Connor are having a good time just painting this and that with watercolors. While all this was going on, I was playing "router wrangler" and finishing up some stuff that we are carving for the CT River Bank project.
Late on Friday I went to an appointment with a prospective customer to discuss her sign project, and it was a really great experience. It is sometimes difficult to determine what it is a customer wants out of their sign, and it is something we work very hard to find out and deliver on here. After, a lot of discussion, and many design proposals and sketches flying back and forth, she just came out and said it, "I don't just want a sign, I want art! I want it to make me feel a certain way about this business"
That really brought a smile to my face. The challenge of the sign business, is that 80% of our customers see a sign as a "need", not as something they necessarily "want", even though it will have a tremendous impact on their business. I have to be careful during the sales process not to try to get them into a project that is too far beyond their budget or desire. It is fantastic when a customer tells me, "I am looking for something extraordinary". It is a huge weight off my shoulders, and allows me to create, rather than just "make a sign".
Once this lock was opened, I was able to come up with a great idea she liked, and I will be working on this design project in the coming week.
Friday, September 24, 2004
Oak InnSeason Resort Logo
This is a logo that Lincoln Sign carved for InnSeason Resorts. These were carved in Oak and stained a natural color and have a dignified charm. They are for the interior of the hotels directly underneath the front desk.
Oak is a wonderful wood to carve in, and it allows for fantastic detail when carved because it is so hard and dense. It is too bad that it is a wood that is not well suited for outdoor signage as it tends to rot when wet and can warp as well, but for interior applications it is marvelous stuff.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Making the router cut pretty for the cameras
Worked on quite a bit of prep for the show today. We test cut a project we are going to cut on the router during the show, to make sure everything would go as planned because we certainly want to look like we more-or-less know what we are doing when they are there.
Gordon from ShopBot confirmed that he is going to be flying in Sunday evening and he is going to be having dinner at our house after he arrives. (I hope he has kids and is used to the cacophony of noise and movement that can be produced by two small boys and one hyper-active dog)
Watching the paint dry
The sign that Vicki has been painting today has been giving us fits. For those of you that think that signmaking is a laid-back art, I can personally attest to the fact that there are some real moments of edge-of-your-seat tension. We have been having an issue with black paint not drying properly on a few signs and instead of a hard, high gloss sheen, we have been left with a sticky, tacky mess which needs to be cleaned off and then recoated. We have traced the source of the paint contamination and hopefully be have killed that gremlin for good.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Business After Hours at Windy Ridge Orchard
Our local Chamber of Commerce has events called "Business After Hours" about every month and this is the first one that we have gone to since we moved north. Kids were welcome to this one, so it was a great after work activity for everyone, plus we needed the apples. We were at Windy Ridge Orchards in North Haverhill, NH and had the best apple-picking, hayride-going, goat-petting, pumpkin-selecting time possible. It was a very good time and we got to see a lot of the people we know from local businesses in town (which is the point).
Highlight of the evening? We won a dozen donuts and a Christmas Tree in the raffle. Vicki claims that the Christmas Tree is the good prize, but oh how I disagree!
By the way, an apple eaten right off the tree is always ten times better than you imagine, and I really don't like apples all that much. Can't really say the same for the pumpkins however, as I still have not developed a taste for raw pumpkin.
Project of the Month
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
More show prep
Had quite a bit to do today in regards to The New Yankee Workshop coming here to film on Monday. Russ had requested that I put together some press releases and make the filming known to the local media so they would have the opportunity to cover it if they were interested. With the hundreds of other details I had to deal with, I farmed this out to a local marketing person and we met for awhile on the phone today discussing the press release copy and which papers and TV news stations she was talking to about the event.
Talked to Gordon Bergfors who is the VP of Product Development at ShopBot Tools (which is the CNC router that we use) and he is going to be coming out to the shoot just to make sure everything goes well with the equipment. I called them as soon as I found out about the definite recording date. We have never had an problems with our router not working properly, but I am a big believer in Murphy's Law, and I want to have all of my bases covered. Gordon is planning on flying in on Sunday evening.
Also sat down with everyone in the shop and went over the schedule for Monday and wanted to see if anyone could think of anything we might have not thought of. Lee did remind me that we need to make sure that we have gas and motor oil for the air compressor we use for sandblasting (which I had not thought of, so I was glad we took the time to sit down and go over everything).
Everyone if very cool and calm about Monday, as if we have film crews in here on a semi-regular basis, and it reassures me to have such a cool-headed group of people working with me.
Connecticut River Bank Project
We have started carving a series of signs for the Connecticut River Bank today. These signs are going to be produced in a material called High Debsity Urethane. It is a specially made plastic composite made for the sign industry that has some advantages over wood. It is a very light and stong material, and it is extremely uniform, which is nice for carving (as carving in wood can produce unexpected results from time to time). The biggest advantage of using this material is that it will literally last "just about forever". It does not expand and contract according to the temperature, which is much kinder to the paint as well.
Monday, September 20, 2004
to: Russell Morash
9-20-04 @ 4:35am
RE: e-mail in regards to prep for the show
Here is a summary of the projects I am planning to have "at the ready" for filming.
Gold Leafing - either Vicki or Chris Weissbrod will be able to demonstrate the gold leafing process on the Lunenberg School sign. After the application of the gold sizing, it will be ready to gold leaf in about 2 hrs.
Hand Lettering - If a general discussion about a carved-wooden sign is going to occur, it would make the most sense for it to focus on the large Woodsville Guaranty sign we currently have in the shop. (The one with the dimensional compass build out) Vicki or Chris could be lettering it as we discuss it
Sandblasting - We have a large 44" x 95" oval sign that will be ready for blasting that day. We can have Lee talk about how he applies the "sandblast mask" to the areas where we do not want the woodgrain exposed, and the he can take to sign out to the shed to blast.
We can talk about what sandblasting is and does by looking at some of the examples on the walls
3D relief carving by hand - Rick or Lee can demonstrate carving the Mountain Scene that will be laminated onto the sandblasted sign. We can then place the finished piece onto the sandblasted oval to give viewers an idea of what the finished sign will look like
CNC Carving with the computerized router - I have a large oval sign to carve for another local bank - this will actually be carved, not in wood, but a material called High Density Urethane, a specialized plastic for the sign industry. I think Norm and the viewers would find a discussion of this material interesting (it is also that material that will be used for the 3D relief carving)
Glue Up - Would you like us to do a quick glue-up using West-Bond so we can discuss it on camera? It really is "the" glue to use and I think the viewership should be made aware of it
Hand Router Carve Technique - The is what Rick will be showing you. I am planning to have him do a oval house number sign I plan on donating to the local library (Yes, we do shapes other than ovals, ovals are very popular)
Two other interesting things I could show - I could produce computer printed graphics on my digital printer and then cut them on the plotter and apply the vinyl to a wooden sign. I think that would be interesting for Norm to see as well, I can guarantee he has never seem anything like it. It is not an ink process, but it is a thermal heat-transfer process (I should have made more of a point to show that to you Russ.)
Other arrangements I will be making:
Will have sandwiches catered in. Will tell them to plan to serve at 12:30pm unless specified as other by you. Will instruct to have sandwiches for 15 people - you are bringing (5 people?), we will have (5 people & 2 small boys), there may be some reporters, and misc others
I have contacted the manufacturer of the computerized router, and they are currently seeing if they can have someone on-site here that day. (They are out of North Carolina) - We have never had any problems with our machine, but I want everything to go well and they are willing to send a tech rep at no cost to anyone
I am going to borrow or rent a "back-up" air compressor for the sandblasting segment. Our compressor likes to play tricks, and again, covering the bases
Please let me know if you need information about rooms in the area, is anyone is planning to stay overnight
Official start of Fall according to Lincoln Sign Company
I gave up and surrendered to the inevitable this morning and started the first fire in the woodstove in the shop. Yesterday was the first day that is dropped below 60 degrees in my office without any source of heat and it is 58 degrees right now. The outside temp is 30 deg so that's it, I'm done... When you hold the cup of coffee just to warm your hands, and you can see your breath as you type the mornings e-mails, a fire needs to be made.
I fully expect all the leaves now to suddenly change colors and fall off the trees all at once (Whumpf!) followed by 6 inches of snow at noon.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
The Radiant Marketing Group Blog
We were flattered that the Radiant Marketing Group was so inclined to do a story on our weblog recently. They are becoming an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn about this mix of small business and weblogging.
For the report and their website, click here
Today is international "Talk Like a Pirate Day"
This has always been a big holiday in our house, and I must confess that it snuck up on us this year, mostly because we have been so busy with the business. The boys and I are big on "pirate-talk", and I think that it is most fortunate that the holiday falls on a Sunday this year. There is no better mix than talking like a pirate and football!
Vicki does not get into the holiday as much as they boys and I do, however, I have heard her say "ARRRRRRRRRRRGH!" on a few occasions around the house. Usually after seeing what kind of job I did on the dishes, or teaching the boys some trick you can do with a liquid that stains carpet.
If you have any doubt of the validity of this holiday, it is recognized by National Public Radio (click here), so it must be true.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Don't worry, you'll be fine...
This afternoon the family and I watched an episode of "The New Yankee Workshop" together. I have seen the show many, many times, but it is a far different thing to watch the show knowing that you are soon to be the subject matter at hand.
The project they were working on in this particular episode was a Cigar Chair, and Norm Abram has the ability to make all tasks look confidently effortless. His processes are smooth, and he presents everything in a very precise, relaxed, step-by-step manner. Much different from the improvisational method we usually employ, as each sign we make is so different from the last, and most of the "techniques" we use to create them are very much "on-the-fly".
During this episode, he visited a well known chair maker in North Carolina which I think gave me a good taste of how their visit to Lincoln Sign will be presented during the show. The chair maker probably had a 100,000 square foot plant all of which was spotless to the point you could have done kidney transplants on the factory floor (TO DO: must remember to sweep the shop). Everyone was extremely well dressed (TO DO: wear the shirt without the holes) and there had to be about 80 employees scurrying around throughout the visit.
Oh, and they had technology that they had makes our equipment look like it belongs in a museum. (I am pretty sure that at one point he showed norm a fabric cutter that uses a laser to cut the fabric at the molecular level, and was power by an in-plant, fusion reactor) In any event, I am at least secure in knowing that we all love what we do and have immense satisfaction in out chosen careers on a daily basis. (The people in the North Carolina factory all looked as happy as clams as well, riding around on their hovercraft)
Well, I am really not all that worried. During his visit, Russ put me remarkably at ease, and I am very much looking forward to their visit.
Now I am going to go and see if I can quickly build an army of 800 signbuilding robots before next Monday.
"Hold the apples, please"
Alas, the rain on Friday afternoon into Saturday scuttled our plans for the apple picking. Additionally, it is just downright cold!
We do have another window of opportunity later this week that I hope will pan out better.
Friday, September 17, 2004
This Old Blog
For a number of months I have been talking to the producer of The New Yankee Workshop, Russell Morash, about their doing an episode of the show at our shop. Back in 1989, Lincoln Sign Company produced the original sign for The New Yankee Workshop (which is the same sign that is still being used for the show today).
Today Russ paid us a visit, toured the shop and talked to Vicki, Lee and I about signs and signmaking. We showed him all of the things we do, answered all of his question, and then he surprised us by letting us know that, if it would work for us, they would be coming to film the episode a week from Monday. We all enthusiastically agreed, and Russ let me know that he would be in touch next week, and then drove down to Concord (where they are currently filming an episode of "This Old House").
Since he left, I have basically been in "low-grade panic" mode. I grew up watching Public Television (Russ, by the way, is the person that brought us "The French Chef", "This Old House" , "The Victory Garden" and of course Norm's show) and the concept that Lincoln Sign is going to make a small contribution to that legacy is a bit much for me to comprehend right now.
I have started making a list of all the things that we are going to need to do to get ready, and have been breathing steadily into a paper bag...
I think winter may be coming
We heat with wood here, both in the house and in the shop. (Yes, I know, how very "Little House on the Prairie") . When I come into the shop office early in the morning, the last few mornings I have been tempted to quickly start a fire, as it has been a bit chilly, but I am forcing myself to suffer through it a bit. The first fire in the shop is such an obvious signal of the winter season coming, that I have no desire to give it the satisfaction. I realize I will only be able to tough it out for a few more days, and I will surrender as the mercury steadily drops, but a want to eke out a few more warm days of summer if possible.
The plan for after work today is to go Apple Picking with the kids. I swear, that is going to be the Friday night activity for us... Apple picking! I will be sure to post a complete report with extensive photos ASAP!
Heating with wood and apple picking... Where's my flintlock? I'm gonna go and shoot me a bear!
Well, gotta go milk the cow
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Woodland Acres Sign Sketch
We just began work on this sign a day or two ago. We are in the process of cutting the boards for the glue-up, and we are also cutting the blank for the carving. I thought it might be nice to show what one of our sketches looks like.
HINT: If you click on the sketch, you can read the details. Stay tuned, and you can compare what the finished product looks like in comparison to the sketch.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Chris and Vicki just finished doing the cats and they look terrific! I have no idea how they got them looking so lifelike!
Well, I have some chores to do at the end of the day. Let's see, what's on my list...
"Return steam roller for Chris & Vicki"
"Rake up cat-food off of the parking lot"
Please, cat-lovers out there, do not hate me! Just for the record, I am not a big fan of dogs either and if we ever need to do a sign with a poodle on it I will be renting the same steam-roller and will not have to go far to find the poodle!
Project of the Month Day ???
The Woodsville Guaranty Bank sign is starting to get lettered. (This actually started a few days ago). Vicki is actually the one who gets to do most of the lettering currently, mostly because she claims to enjoy it, and it is a little too tedious and exacting for my tastes (although I will do it if required). I will generally do anything that has a keyboard attached, but unless it has a button I can push, it is tough to get me moving sometimes.
That is really the importance of having a good "team", and we have a great team here at Lincoln Signs.
Lee Lamontagne is our master woodworker, and he is the best in the business.
Vicki has the natural art skill that we need for fine painting and she does the bookkeeping.
Chris Weissbrod has done it all and can do it all.
and Rick Weissbrod is our master woodcarver.
"Team" - very important.
Oh, what do I do? I'm not exactly sure, I think everyone else has it so well covered. I might just be a "spare" or something.