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Paying tribute to traditional sign-making

The making of signs is one of the world’s oldest forms of communication. Whether it was blown ink to form hand prints on a cave wall, or the first use of street names carved into walls in the Roman empire, the sign industry today builds on an amazing cultural heritage.

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"I am fascinated by the stories associated with objects made by hand,” says Alistair Park, who will be demonstrating on The Craftsman’s Corner

Today the artisans of our trade continue to ply their business, practising skills that were once common place before the advent of digital printing and CNC manufacturing technology.

The upcoming SignLink Live show (October 11th to 13th - The International Centre Telford) is going to raise the profile of these skilled men and women at The Craftsman’s Corner, which is a celebration of these techniques and a showcase for businesses that continue to offer them as a service right up to the modern day. One of the master craftsmen on this area, who will be running the bas-relief carving demonstrations, is Bristol-based Alistair Park.

“Unlike companies that use computer-controlled letter cutting machines I can carve onto uneven and unusual surfaces and, in contrast to many other businesses, I always use ethically-sourced timbers,” explains Park.

He adds: “I can also hand carve and paint any image that you would like to accompany your text. The signs aren’t necessarily as cheap as computer-produced ones but they are genuinely hand made by a craftsman, so I have to charge a little more rather than compromise on quality.”

The signs aren’t necessarily as cheap as computer-produced ones but they are genuinely hand made by a craftsman, so I have to charge a little more rather than compromise on quality

Previous clients have included the National Trust, Famous Grouse whisky, the NHS, local councils and schools, as well
as commissions for individuals in Britain and abroad. Park also enjoys teaching his skills, gathered during twenty-three years of carving and woodworking, to learners of all ages and abilities. And that is what he will be doing on The Craftsman’s Corner.

“I started whittling wood with an Opinel lock knife in 1994 whilst working at a youth hostel in Ironbridge, UK,” adds Park, who adds: “More recently, I completed an honours degree in Three Dimensional Design (Designer Maker). 

“I still use the same knife on some carving projects, along with power tools and a wide range of traditional carving chisels and gouges (some of which are over a hundred years old).”

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@signlink.co.uk

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