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Terry Smith's Traditional signwriting course 


For many years the craft of sign-writing was a area of commercial art which could be carried out by one man/women operation who had the necessary flare but without the need for art college education, all training being on the job as most market towns had a busy sign writing shop.

The changes that have taken place in the trade since the computers involvement have meant the phasing out of many talented sign-writers. Due to the speed at which the 'machine' can produce vinyl graphics, the traditional signwriter has been unable to work fast enough to earn a reasonable living. However, in more recent years there has been something of a resurgence in the trade mostly in nostalgia and leisure industry where a 'niche' market now exists which provides work for quite a number of tradesmen/women.

One such person who has continued his work solely in the traditional way without any computer backup is Terry Smith. He has been involved in all aspects of commercial signwork for more than thirty-five years, from posters and showcard writing, illustrations and murals, coach painting and lining and of course sign-writing in all its forms, including gold-leaf work.

What the course entails

(All lunches will be provided as part of the cost of the courses)

The above can be tailored dependent on ability

Day 1 (2 pm-5 pm)

Learn the OHV method of teaching one dimension lettering and subsequently draw out a 3-inch alphabet in Gill Sans Serif using straight edge and triangle.

Learn the chalk pounce method of transferring lettering to practice boards and subsequently set outboards using a tape measure chalk line.



Day 2 (9 am-5 pm)

Transfer the alphabet as discussed and introduce second dimension (i.e. spacing) into the mix. The imaginary volume principle of peculiarly shaped vessels holding a similar amount of fluid.


~Lunch Break~


Applying lettering enamel to practice board using 'mahl stick', sable writing pencil brushes and a dipper of writing enamel. Subtle use of brushwork to create letter shapes with minimum strokes will be taught.

Day 3 (9 am-5 pm)

Continue writing the alphabet and introduce students to the third dimension (i.e. shading of lettering) by way of a dropped shadow and explain compound shading.


~Lunch Break~


Terry will discuss with the students the design of their workpiece and assist with the layout, and choice of colour and typography. Create pounce on paper in readiness for day 4 and students workpiece


Day 4 (9 am-5 pm)

Transfer design/logo from pounce to the workpiece, apply enamel in more than one colour.

~Lunch break~

Discuss mixing enamel and good use of colour to create an aesthetically pleasing workpiece.

Day 5 (9 am-1 pm)

Continue with the workpiece and discuss end results.      Q & A  session to conclude the course.

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