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Why handstenciling?

The original technique for creating enamel signs is labor intensive but delivers the most brilliant results

If you are looking for a house number with personality and that sets you apart from your neighbours, look no further than hand-stenciled porcelain enamel signs.

The technique has been around for more than 2000 years and is still one of the most exclusive and sought after material used for house numbers and name plaques  in Europe today.

If you are not familiar with porcelain enamel signs, you may have heard of  “French house numbers” – the classic blue and white sign seen in the picture on this post.

You may also  have seen imitations out there and wondered whether it’s worth the extra money for the real thing. The answer is yes.

Traditionally, craftsmen used a porcelain surface and enameled it on to a metal backing. Porcelain enamel can withstand weather without losing color or clarity and will last for many years. The same cannot be said for the knock-offs.

The process can take time, but the result is stunning. The design of a hand stenciled sign, whether is a name plaque or house number, is built layer after layer, with each one stenciled out by hand before being coated with enamel and burned at a very high temperature. This end result is a surface which is very durable and vibrant in color.

The color of the enamels can be affected by factors such as the firing time and temperature, and air humidity.  Once the layers have been added and fired, and the sign cools down, the vibrant colors of the enamel  command the attention of anyone passing by.

Traditional hand stenciled enamel signs can be hard to find – mainly due to the level of skill and experience needed to craft them. But it is worth the investment to make your house number or name plaque “pop”

Enamel Signs – Why Hand Stenciling?

The original technique for texting enamel signs is labor intensive but still delivers the most brilliant results.

If you are looking for signs for your home that are beautiful and durable you need to consider a hand stenciled enamel sign. You may have seen imitation enamel signs available in different shops and wonder what the difference is between a hand-enameled sign and a knock off and whether the increased cost is worthwhile.

Hand stenciling is a technique that has been used to create custom designs using a variety of different materials. It has been used for more than 2000 years as a way to decorate many different items. With enamel signs, the traditional choice is to use a porcelain surface that is enameled onto a metal backing. Using a porcelain enamel coating is good because it can withstand the weather without losing any of the brilliant colors or clarity and will last for many years.

The process can be quite labor intensive but the result is beautiful. With a hand stenciled sign, regardless of whether it is a name plaque or a set of house numbers, the design is built layer after layer. Each layer is stenciled out by hand and then enamels are applied to the surface of the sign. Each layer is then burned at a temperature of approximately 800 degrees Celsius. This creates a surface which is very durable and vibrant in color.

The color of the enamels can be affected by factors such as the time it is fired for, what the humidity in the air is and what temperature it is being fired at. Once the layers have been added and fired one at a time the sign is allowed to cool and the colors of the enamel are allowed to shine through. The surface becomes extremely hardy, and the layers of glossy enamel make these signs pop so that they command the attention of anyone passing by.

Although hand stenciling used to be very common and was used in factories throughout Europe it slowly fell out of favor. This is because creating beautiful designs takes a high level of skill and experience and that is becoming much more difficult to find in today’s world.

This technique can be used to create a number of different signs for homes and businesses. Hand stenciling can be used to create custom name plaques, house numbers and enamel signs. Some of the most popular include the classic blue and white signs that are often referred to as “French house numbers”.

If you want to add a touch of class to your home you need to consider adding a stylish feature such as an enameled sign. The skill that is used to create them will elevate your home and demonstrate the pride of ownership that you have been trying to display.

Although traditional hand stenciled signs can be difficult to find, one manufacturer is still producing hand enameled signs and house numbers following traditional methods. Ramsign is a company which prides itself on supplying clients with beautiful and durable enamel signs that will remain beautiful year after year.

Porcelain Enamel – A Fascinating Story

Enamel icon of St. George from the 12th century.

Enamel icon of St. George from the 12th century.

Porcelain enamel has been widely used for signs during the last 150 years, but enameling actually dates back over 2000 years.

When you look at the fresh, modern look of an enamel sign it is hard to believe that the art of enameling metal is actually one that has been around for thousands of years. The same techniques that are used to make strong, colorful house plaques, address numbers and door signs have been used by many different cultures to create jewelry and other decorative items.

The process of creating an enamel sign, door sign or house plaque involves placing powdered glass on a metal backing and firing it at a high temperature. At high temperatures the glass will melt and fuse with the background. This creates a surface that is glossy and because the colors are an intrinsic part of the enamel they will not fade or dull over time. This gives them a distinct advantage over signs that are painted or which use other manufacturing techniques but which may be prone to fading or weather damage.

Although porcelain enamel is often placed on a metal backing when creating modern pieces it was not uncommon to find items that had enamel areas on a base of pottery and stone. This is because the act of applying powdered glass to a backing and then firing it could produce a coating that was durable, brilliantly colored and able to handle a variety of different uses. Items that use a metal base often had the advantage of being more durable than an item made from pottery.

Blue Enamel House Number

Blue Enamel House Number

In its earliest history, porcelain enamel techniques were used to create decorative and religious items. In the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon to find items that included the use of precious and semi-precious stones in the design. Some of the most famous enameled decorative items include Faberge eggs which are known for their intricate enamel work and use of precious gems. Many people are familiar with jewelry pieces that use the cloisonné technique which involves the creation of enameled areas that are separated by thin metal wire.

Because porcelain enamel techniques do produce such a glossy, flawless finish it is no wonder that they were used for display items such as signs and address numbers. In the 1850’s, European craftsmen were just beginning to create enamel signs. They soon became very popular and it was not unusual to find them on many houses and businesses in cities throughout Europe. They were expensive and time consuming to produce, however, and slowly the process of hand enameling became rarely used. Modern enameling techniques still involve mixing clear glass powder with small quantities of metal oxides before firing in order to create the beautiful colors which these pieces are known for.

Now, the interest that people are showing in hand enameling is growing again. For anyone who is interested in purchasing a sign or set of house numbers which are beautiful, intricately crafted and extremely durable the choice is clear. Hand enameled signs from Ramsign are designed to add class and beauty to your home while maintaining their color and design for many years to come.

Red enamel sign slide show

Black and white nameplates

black-white-enamel-house-sign

A classic black and white enamel sign

The black and white enamel sign design is probably as stylish and functional as one can imagine. The plates fit all colours and are easy to fit into old, as well as new, environments. The combination of black and white offers maximum contrast, which in turn provides maximum readability. The Highlander design is surprisingly functional and modern. In fact it’s history stretches way back, long before the time of functionalism! The design fits well under the Bauhaus doctrine “Form follows function”. But unlike the Bauhaus movement, we do not believe that “ornament is a crime”. There are many instances where the ornament in itself has a very essential function.

In the cradle of industrialism in Northern Europe the industrialized production of porcelain enamel signs flourished. From here it spread across most of Europe, and later also to the New World. With the increasing organization of the society followed a growing need for all sorts of signage with prohibitions, commands, names, numbers, directions and warnings. All these signs were mostly done in porcelain enamel because of their extreme hardiness and longevity. The combination of black lettering on white background was the standard for all text signs. Naturally, this is because black and white were the only enamel colours which were available in the early days. But this design surely owes it’s continued popularity to it’s functional qualities. To this day, it is preferred for nameplates, door signs, house names and other text signs.

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Blue enamel signs slide show

Green enamel signs slide show

White enamel sign slide show