Thursday, March 19, 2009

Open Studio, Lots of Signs

main sign behind fence
4 x 8 ft, 10 inch letters, mounted on 10 ft posts
full sheet of plywood so it can be seen from highway
I plan on painting
"Pottery & Gifts"

You're invited to stop by my studio if you're in the neighborhood. These are the signs which will lead you in from the highway. I'm on Highway 190 about a mile before the quaint little town of Springville, California, gateway town to the Giant Sequoia trees. Also please check in at Critique My Pot, for my very rough, first draft, artist statement. Any comments or advice will be greatly appreciated.

Gate Entrance Sign
4 x 4 ft, 6 inch letters, screwed into fence
still have to paint phone number

Since I've had my gardens open for the past four years, my property has been a green jewel with trees and flowers. My neighbor's property was tall or short brown grass and nothing else. His gate is opposite mine on the highway. I can't tell you how many folks went up his driveway instead of mine looking for the lavender gardens and gift shop. I don't think you can have too many signs. We live on almost three acres and my studio is hidden among the trees so it's easy to get distracted, especially by the beautiful views.

So I have lots of signs with arrows pointing out the entrance, the parking, and the studio. Even with all the signs sometimes folks drive in and drive out. I am not sure if they thought a lavender gift shop was a drive-through or not. Hopefully folks won't think my studio is a drive-through. Hey maybe that's a good idea - a drive through pottery. I can see it now, folks drive up and say they want pot number two and five, oh, and then they add number 15 too, yeah.

Double Directional Sign on Highway
4 x 4 ft, 10 inch letters, free standing with piano hinge
hopefully can be seen by cars whizzing by at 55 mph

For now my budget doesn't allow for a professional sign painter, so I've taken the task upon myself. I've painted over my lavender garden signs with a new background color and new lettering. The gardens are still here, but will now be an adjunct to my studio. For signs to be seen by folks driving by at 55 mph, the letters must be big and there must a good contrast between the background color and the color of the letters. There is a whole science to the size and colors of signs, but I won't get into that here. Hopefully folks think my signs are quaint and not unprofessional.

Directional Sign near fence and entry
2 x 2 ft, 7 inch letters, free standing with piano hinge
hopefully seen by cars entering from driveway

When the signs were first painted for the gardens over four years ago, I started with exterior plywood and put a good coat of primer on the wood. This week I repainted the signs with the background color which is a latex interior paint I had in the cabinet. I hand brushed the paint on instead of rolling it to get a good thick coat. Even interior house paint will last a long time if painted well over primed wood. I let the paint dry for two days to be sure it's really dry before I paint the letters.

Entrance & Parking Directional Signs
1 x 3 and 2 x 2 ft
(looks like a dead end, but it's not)
I'll re paint with coordinating colors very soon
and I think I'll hang the Entrance sign up on fence

I am pretty good at estimating sizes, so I don't measure the length and width of the sign and the size of the letters and spaces, but I recommend this for first time sign painters. I use a pencil to rough draw the letters on the sign. If it comes out too uneven I can always erase the letters and start over. Next I use a brush the width of the letters I am going to paint. I paint the letters on with a thin coat of paint being careful not to load the brush with too much paint, otherwise the paint will run down the sign. I let this dry over night and then put a second coat on the letters the next day with a smaller flat brush so I won't go outside the lines (too much). I tell myself hand painting signs are all part of the ambiance of visiting a country pottery studio.

sign on gravel drive
1.5 x 3 ft sign, propped against boulder
(this was laying in the dirt all winter long)
I'll be re-painting tomorrow to read
"Please drive in, we're open"

I have a 4 x 4 ft sign made of 3/8 inch plywood I put out near the highway to catch passersby initial attention. This sign is a little rougher in character than the others. It reads "Pottery Studio Open" with an arrow pointing into the driveway. This sign is double sided and painted the same on both sides to be seen by drivers coming from either direction. This sign has a piano hinge on the top and can be opened up and put out on the highway when I am open, and closed and moved in when I am closed. Then as you turn into the driveway I have a 2 x 2 ft sign that says "Studio Open" with an arrow pointing to my gates and driveway (not my neighbors). This sign also has a piano hinge and can be moved when I am closed. On the fence I have a 4 x 4 ft sign painted with "Blue Starr Gallery..." and this is screwed into the fence just past the "Studio Open" sign. The main sign is behind the fence and is a full sheet of plywood, 4 x 8 ft sign on 12 ft posts (2 feet sunk in the ground) with "Blue Starr Gallery..." on it.

Customer Parking Sign
I hate picking up after litter bugs
(is this too tacky?)

At the end of the frontage driveway I have a sign saying "Entrance" and another sign saying "Parking" with an arrow pointing towards the parking area. See how these two signs don't stand out as much as the ones with the light background and the dark blue letters, I plan on re-painting these to the same color. It's also nice to be color coordinated because it makes it easier for someone unfamiliar with an area to find something. This next sign sat out all winter in the dirt, I'll also be repainting it. And my "stay right" sign needs paint too.

Stay Right
8" x 12", propped on rock
at Koi pond turnaround
will re paint
(light and dark letters will be much better)

Then I have a "Customer Parking" sign at the parking area. This sign I found at a garage sale for $1, it is an old porcelain sign. I also have another sign at the path to the studio saying "Welcome, Gallery, Gift Shop, Studio" with an arrow pointing up the short pathway. Believe it or not, even with all these signs I've found folks wandering around my yard wondering where the shop (studio) was located. I know this post looks like I have a ton of signs since you are seeing them all at once, but if you drive in they are well spaced out, but often enough so you won't get lost or confused as to where to go.

Hopefully you'll find my studio with my new signs, I'll be open this weekend. I have pottery, lavender products, and fresh vegetables and fruits in season. Please stop in for a visit if you are in the neighborhood. Oh and feel free to chime in with any ideas about having an open studio or signs, etc. The flower for today is Candy Tuft, Iberis umbellata, which is blooming just outside my studio door. Up next, I'm working on my attachments to hang my leaf panels, stay tuned for that on my next post.


  1. Wow, you have so much space for signs and parking and driveways and a koi pond turnaround! Your signs are welcoming and friendly and I like the blue color. I'd stop if I was on 190. Do you have trouble getting people to leave after a studio visit?

  2. YOU KNOW I wish I could visit!!!! Everything looks great, and its so pretty around your house!

  3. I'd love to visit! I'd be torn between your gardens & your pottery. It's so lovely. Hope you get lots of visitors & sales!

  4. Hey Linda- we have a long drive- 1/4 of a mile. To us it is short, but city people think it is f.o.r.e.v.e.r.! We too get turn arounds- they come all the way down and "turn around"- We put a driveway alarm on serveral years back. It is great to alert us when someone is on their way in.
    Even with our shop and all the other buildings we have had folks go in our house!
    Best of luck- but I would suggest you put the small signs up. Ladies are busy talking and don't pay attention after they step out of the car.

  5. Perfect - I'd stop by if I ever found myself in your neck of the woods - the signs look inviting and your homestead very beautiful!

    Meredith - anything over 2 blocks is long for this city girl. :)

    Also - I'm the last person to ask about artist statement's - I stink at them.

  6. Hi Barbara, we've been slaving away on this place for 4 years. I've never had trouble getting folks to leave yet (of course I haven't had an official studio visit yet), but to the gardens lots - most have an agenda for their day and have other places to go, occasionally I have had folks ask to stay and have lunch under the patio after an official group tour, which was fine with me. I'll have to make a post about the Koi pond turn around - you will be amazed at how it is built, maybe next week - it's not so fancy smancy and everyone misses it unless I point it out to them. Thanks, I better get busy and finish up my painting - I do think the blue stands out much better.

    Hi Gary, maybe one of these days you and the missus will be out West and you can stop by, I'd love to meet all my blogger friends in person. If we sell I hope to be out your way some day when we go to New Hampshire to visit our relatives.

    Hi Judy, thanks, I'm not really sure how I'll keep up with the gardens this year during the hot weather, hopefully a passerby wants to live here, but until then I'll do my best.

    Hi Meredith, I was thinking of your place when I posted this last night. I wondered how you directed folks in. I know what you mean about city folks not being familiar with long driveways, I've had folks ask if my house was the gift shop. I did have a driveway alarm, but it wore out - what brand do you have? It was real handy for sure, especially if I had gone in the house because I don't hear folks drive in. I will put those sigs up for sure, thanks for your advice.

  7. Hi Cynthia, well maybe I'll get some potters to stop by and I can meet some local ones or out-of-towners - that would be so great. I'm trying to get the city folk to get out and smell the roses, he he. I bet you could write an artist statement just fine.

  8. WIRELESS1000 - Optex wireless visitor Annunciator
    I really like ours and we have not had any trouble unless you count lighting!

  9. I love your signs... love how they are hand crafted - I would only suggest that the parking sign (the blue one) should be a similar color to the other no smoking and no littering signs - if you repainted those two to be blue or lavender or whatever, it'd make things a little more cohesive. Actually, you may want to paint all the signs the same coloring/style so that people get used to looking for a certain type of sign.

    Last note - and you probably already do this, but I was thinking itd be neat to have your pots filled with lavender for sale :)

  10. how I want to come! wishing CA was closer to NC. hope it's a fun, great time.

  11. Wow! What a beautiful studio/ property...I'm jealous:)

  12. I'm back. Just read this post again and I like the signs and all you've included. Just make it as it's best for you. I would love to see pics of INSIDE the studio. :)

  13. Hi Meredith, thanks, mine was from Radio Shack and was about $75 but went kaput will check into yours.

    Hi Kyle, I was painting again today, it does take some time, I am trying to color coordinate everything and I am so glad you reminded me about the lavender I have some in vases, but I could defintely put more and other floral stuff too I have in my storage shed.

    Hi Amy, thanks, I was watering almost all day today and then wen to class and loaded the bisque load and I broke my crowded city vase - thanks goodness I did it and not someone else. I leaned against a brick we were using as a stilt and it fell against the vase. I guess I will have to make another one - what a pain.

    Hi Shawna, thanks it's a lot of work keeping up with this place, we are hoping to sell and have a larger studio and smaller amount of land, I wish I was younger (at least in body, my mind, of course, is very young).

    Hi Amy, I was painting some more today and I have been watering because they turn off our irrigation water between March 20 and April 10 for the fish to spawn (we do have a backup holding tank) Why does everything happen at once (or why do I do this to myself) I am cleaning up the studio tomorrow, and will try and take some photos, - it is real tiny, 10 x 12 but I pack a "lot of good stuff in there" he he. I did a post a long time ago about converting my lavender gift shop to my studio, but not sure when that was, probably last fall.

  14. Hi LInda! What great signage opportunity you have! If you ever want even more visibility, they say that black/yellow is THE most eye-catching color combo, but I suppose that would be a little much!

    Your place sounds lovely. If we ever get back to the valley for any duration, we'll have to plan a field trip to your place!

  15. Hi Patricia, thanks, only problem is road noise living on a main highway. I think I read about the black and yellow, but somehow the colors didn't seem to appeal to me. Please do come by if you get a chance.


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