Prismatic Copper Leaf on Glass: Trompe l'oeil Secrets Revealed!

Copper Leaf Prismatic Letters

Trompe L'oeil (French for "deceive the eye") is the art of creating the optical illusion of three dimensions. Who doesn't enjoy being fooled by a work of art which reaches out and pulls us into the joke? Though the term normally refers to painting and murals, the effect can also be achieved through other artistic mediums. On this particular occasion I crated prismatic, dimensional-looking letters on flat glass using copper leaf lettering.

American National Bank uses stylized prismatic letters as their logo and I was commissioned to

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Appreciation & Preservation of Traditional Sign-making Skills

Updated on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 5:30AM by Registered CommenterDan Seese

High Park Fire Smoke Viewed from My Front YardIt's been 10 days since I saw the first plume of smoke rising from the foothills only a few miles from our doorstep. With ash from the High Park Fire continuing to settle around us a sobering sense also settles in that so much is lost that can never be recovered. As I write this, nearly 59,000 acres of forest have disappeared and 189 homes have been destroyed while homesteads and livelihoods carved out of the land yeild to the advancing flames. Along with the sad realization that things will never be the same comes an increased gratitude for the tireless labor of firefighters to extinguish the inferno as well as the ongoing stewardship efforts which enable us to preserve our forested inheritance for future generations.

It's no mercenary leap to consider the efforts which have arisen to rescue traditional sign-making skills from being consumed by the wildfire of accelerating technology. The use of tools and improvement of methods have always

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The Design Process: From Shadow to Form

  Haunted Game Cafe - finished sign

The process of successful commercial art & design often involves the skills of asking questions and listening as much as it involves the skills of manipulating an art medium - be it a pencil, brush or computer mouse. Creativity that serves the client means understanding their needs and goals as much as knowing how to formulate unique ideas.

In August of 2009 I was contacted by Gary Sproul, who had just signed the lease on

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Obscure Glass: Shine on, Harvest Moon

Sometimes a project calls for concealing the view through a window. There are a number of ways to create obscure-glass, always driven by the needs of the situation.  A solid sandblasted panel allows the light to come through but nothing can be seen on the other side of the glass. Glue chipping creates beautiful random patterns in the glass which maintain some clarity but which distort the light so that everything is blurred. A shaded etching will have gradations of clear and etched areas - similar to airbrushing.

All of these options can be done in the studio and later installed, but when an existing window needs to be obscured on-location, the options are

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Gold Leaf and A Paint Brush: Put ‘em in your pipe and smoke ‘em.

Reverse glass gilding; hand painted murals; custom crafted signs: these terms have never enjoyed an everyday status in the common vernacular but they've become even more archaic in our era of digital/virtual everything.  Despite the exponential growth of technologies, a digital graphic can’t duplicate the richness of genuine gold leaf applied to glass. Pixels can only simulate tangible texture.  A computer can’t reproduce a one-of-a-kind, personally crafted item.  This loss of the human touch is something about which many of us feel no small discomfort.

Having crafted signs in Fort Collins, Colorado for a

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