One of the most exciting projects I have been working on recently is a sign for The Gunton Arms Pub here in north Norfolk. It’s a great pub with a fascinating collection of art both on the walls and in the grounds. I have been asked to design and produce a sign to be placed between the car park and the pub. After discussing various options and designs we decided that a cast iron frieze would work really well. This will be installed this Thursday. My approach to designing this was to think about something that would be visually simple, legible, yet not just letters plonked along a line, using ancient techniques but with a modern twist in the letterforms and the way they merge with the framing. My designs:
The font is basically adapted from one of my own sans-serif true-type fonts but then the whole design was digitised (converted to paths) and manipulated to make the letters work with the curved shapes. When lettering is set on a curve it appears to be distorted and therefore it is necessary to intentionally distort the shapes to make the whole design and the spacing look right. The process of working with the paths and creating a satisfying design was very enjoyable. I was thinking very much about the space in between the letters, almost more than the letters in a way. The intention was both to make a nice series of negative spaces and also make the letters blend and flow nicely out of the curved ‘tramlines’ that contain them. Also I was really thinking about working with iron, and its unique properties and also the weight. The frieze weighs approximately 80kg.
This is a little snapshot of how the paths are created, with a series of control points each of which has ‘handles’ that can be moved individually to control the curves. This is a really time consuming process and I always aim to have as few of these control points as possible in a search for clean lines and purity!
Two reclaimed cast iron posts have been installed and I have been working on the pattern making and organising the casting and installation on this project, including designing brackets. The pattern was made in MDF from my vector file, then this was used by the foundry to make moulds. This is sand casting, and I am lucky that there is a fantastic foundry not too far from me, East Coast Casting. They kindly photographed the process for me, and there’s a couple of videos below too. Basically, and I am simplifying this description, the pattern is set into a sandy-resin mix and when this sets the pattern is taken out creating a void that is then filled with molten iron. We chose SG iron as it is a little bit easier to work with. It contains graphite, and is easier to drill and weld. It is also more flexible and should not crack under pressure. See below. I’ll put more pictures up later when the sign is installed.
here’s a picture of the finished piece, which will rust naturally over time
more to follow when the job’s done!