Tag Archive for: signs

Designing a custom restaurant sign

03 Feb
February 3, 2014

Often at Great Lakes Metal Works & Art Studio we create sculptures that designers and artists have already envisioned. Other times, we restore an object that has already been made, while other times, we have the opportunity to make things that are purely our own design.

That was the case with a sign that I recently designed for the Ko Restaurant at the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort in Hawaii.

Ko specializes in contemporary Hawaiian plantation food, bringing elements of island flair to haute cuisine. To capture that essence in their signage, we sketched out ideas for a glass sign that would feature the restaurant’s modern logo in bronze with three-dimensional leaves cascading over the letters, surrounded by a dark green metal frame made to look like sugar cane stalks.

Coordinating with other artisans
Because our design called for various forms of media – glass, plexiglass, lighting and metalwork – we needed to coordinate with other artisans who specialize in those areas to complete the project. We found an artist who was able to create the frosted green background of the sign in plexiglass and etch on the words “Plantation Inspired Cuisine” in a darker, emerald green glass. Then, we found another artist skilled in lighting and electrical wiring to illuminate the sign from behind.

Creating the metalwork
Once we had other artisans working on their parts of the project, we started creating the metalwork for the sign. For the frame, we wanted the sugar cane stalks to have a knobby, naturalistic feel, but we knew that casting them in bronze would be expensive. So to value engineer the project, we decided to create the frame out of forged steel rather than bronze.

To make the frame, we heated up steel rods until they were hot enough to become malleable, then compressed them to make ridges, giving the frame its beautiful sugar cane appearance. Next, we sprayed the steel with chemical compounds and heated it to give it a greenish-brown hue.

The leaves of the sign were hand forged in bronze, then patinaed to a soft, mottled green. On the sign, the undulating leaves are raised off of the glass, giving the sign depth and dimension.

With the metal work, glass work and lighting in place, we assembled the sign and then found a special shipping company to transport the sign to Hawaii with care.

If you are interested in having us create any custom signage for you, please contact us at info@greatlakesartstudio.com.

The Art of Signage: Creating Distinctive Metal Signs

26 Jan
January 26, 2014

While jumbo-sized acrylic signs that scream for attention may be suitable for gas stations and fast food chains, upscale businesses such as resorts or country clubs require more refined, elegant metal signs that will enhance their image and make a great first impression. Signage is a distinctive way to reflect the aesthetic essence of a brand. 

At Great Lakes Metal Works & Art Studio, we’ve built dozens of handcrafted, custom metal signs that are truly a work of art.

Our process of making unique, custom metal signs includes several key steps:

  1. Discovery — We find out where and how the sign will be used and what it is intended to convey
  2. Design — We sketch out designs and discuss them with the client.
  3. Execution — Once the designs are agreed upon, we handcraft the metal using laser cutters, casting, forging or other techniques.
  4. Maintenance — We offer a continuing maintenance package and cleaning service to keep the signs looking new.

With each project, we begin by thinking about where the sign is going to be placed and what it’s going to be used for. Good signage should fit seamlessly into its environment and match the look and feel of its surroundings.

For example, we recently created bronze directional signs at The Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui in the shape of the ginger plant, which is native to Hawaii. The tall metal stalks and carved metal hibiscus flowers surrounding the sign make it feel as if it’s a part of the tropical landscape.

We also work with our clients on each project to understand the look they are trying to achieve. By asking the right questions, we can deliver a sign that artistically expresses their identity.

In a recent project with the Wailea Community Association in Hawaii, we were told that the client wanted their sign, which would include their town’s logo and letters spelling “Wailea,” to portray the sun and the sea – both things that are highly valued in this seaside resort community.

After hearing their goals, we recommended making the letters in fluid, organic shapes to express the feeling of the ocean, and the sleek, modern circular logo in a brushed finish to represent the sun setting above the waves.

Bud Pikrone, General Manager at the Wailea Community Association, said he appreciated our ability to listen and communicate clearly.

“Their understanding of the concept and translating that into the materials used and the final product was seamless,” Pikrone said. “(It) made my job easier and less stressful.”

In addition to being able to deliver a product our clients are happy with, we also help our clients protect their investment by coating each metal sign with a UV-repellant wax that wards off the long-term damaging effects of the sun and salt water. Our maintenance plan includes three visits each year to the site to clean the signs, apply wax, buff and repair any damages that may have occurred to the patina.

Here are just a few of the many signs we’ve completed recently:

1. Signage for the town of Wailea, Maui

To create visual interest on these bronze signs, we used contrasts in dimension between the logo and the lettering. For the logo, we cut out the metal shape using a laser cutter, giving it a graphic feel. The letters, on the other hand, were sculpted out of clay and then cast in bronze for a sculptural, dimensional look.

2. Directional signs at Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, Maui

resort sign
These bronze signs were designed to look like a ginger plant, which is native to Hawaii. Each directional sign was coated with a special UV-repellant wax to protect the metal from the damaging effects of the sun and salt water.

3. Launa Lounge sign, Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, Maui

resort lounge sign
The open-air Luana Lounge bar offers live music and spectacular views of the Maui sunset. To create a sign that fit in with the atmosphere, we designed a light and airy sign that features raised metal lettering on glass and golden sunbursts etched into the surface.

Contact us at info@greatlakesartstudio.com to create custom outdoor metal signs for your resort or business.