One of a Kind Sign for SHBC
One of my coolest projects to work on to-date! When I approached owners Natalie & Blane White of Steam Hollow Brewing Co. it was something raw and uncharted. I literally said to them "I'm going to create something for you that is unique and one of a kind, but I don't know what it will look like." I went home and decided to take my skills, the artist within, and love for old vintage parts to the drawing board. I literally took a piece of scratch paper (what looked like a cocktail napkin) lying around in my house and started sketching what I thought this piece should look like. I wanted to take their logo and make it come alive. One thing was for sure is that we knew this was going to be done with copper piping. Below was my hair-brained idea:
One of the biggest challenges was getting the parts to make the piece. I wasn't sure what parts were out there and if they were reasonably price(d). I spend weeks searching buy/sell sites, visiting antique dealers/pickers and finding leads to junk collectors in order to find all the materials needed to make this sign. The hunt was half the battle but still something I am familiar with. In my previous life (years ago) I visited garages and barn all over the country in search of classic vehicles for our family business (A classic car dealership in Mokena, IL). The fun part about picking is meeting the people along the way. These people are characters in their own way with a passion for collecting. I have a very similar passion for holding on to the past by collecting vintage items. Once I had the parts that were needed I started building the structure and piping. After 100 trips to the hardware store and picking every piece of copper piping I could find, I started on the wiring. This was something I wasn't quite ready for. With copper piping and electrical components, you could see why this would be a challenge. How do you get wiring through soldered copper piping without heating up the wiring compromising the wire you say? Well, you use a piece of string, a nut tied to the end, and compressed air. Worked like a charm with a couple of practice runs.
Finally after some experiments and innovations along the way, things were starting to come together. The tree was next on the list and has now become one of my art discoveries (which is now a staple in my artwork today). Pieces of recycled and rusty pieces of metal hand cut and welded together. All the letters including the SHB tree were hand cut using a plasma cutter and a good eye. The final section was sprockets and motor to make the project literally come alive. My measurements were slightly off and with no time left, I decided to keep the slack in the chain (the perfectionist I am is still bothered by it). But it all worked and they moved with a tiny motor in the back. The piece was complete and ready for delivery!
Once we had it up and wired we determined that some of the letters were a little dark. So I ran to the store and added two more lights to backlit the sign more. Today it stands above the beer taps and illuminates the bar from above. It took some thinking and a positive attitude to accomplish something of this magnitude. Our goal is to add on to it yearly and some day cover the back wall with numerous pieces. Below is the finished product and I hope you like it!
You can check it out at the Steam Hollow Brewing Co. in Manteno, IL