House of Signs' HDU Projects Create Rocky Mountain High Aesthetics
House of Signs (Frisco, CO) founder Roger Cox learned design fundamentals at the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, and cut his teeth as an apprentice to Earl Vehill, a forefather of the Letterhead traditional-signmaking movement. Cox founded House of Signs in 1989, and the shop has grown into a 3,000-sq.-ft. facility that employs five – including Periandros Damoulis, a Greek-immigrant signmaker who’s enhanced the shop with his considerable talents.
Colorado’s booming tourism industry, provides an exceptionally fertile customer base. Visitors from Pennsylvania to Australia have ordered signs for their businesses back home.
The shop’s design process involves a combination of initial concept design using Gerber Scientific Products’ Omega® 5.0 and Corel Corp.’s CorelDRAW® software, and prepping files for CNC-router production with Vectric’s Aspire® 3D-design software. Cox notes that 3D-sign design requires careful attention because of the various substrates, finishes and textures, which must be executed to be both aesthetically pleasing, sufficiently durable and compatible with the framework, brackets and hardware required to secure the sign.
House of Signs created a striking pylon for Breckenridge, CO, a tourist mecca renowned for its ski slopes and alluring vistas. The sign features an HDU panel fortified with an angle-steel frame, with a crown that showcases a routed-HDU roof, with LED downlights that project through a clear lens. Its substructure comprises a 2 x 4, wood-frame structure sheathed with plywood.
The shop produced the main panel, pylon roof and directional arrows using 15-lb. Duna Corafoam® HDU, which the shop machined on its Gerber Sabre 408 CNC router. Complementary elements include routed, ¾-in.-thick, acrylic push-through letters LED-illuminated with SLW modules that
are powered with a 110V system. And, within the arrows, inlaid, patina-finish aluminum faces provide a rustic accent.
Demonstrating House of Signs’ holistic fabrication approach, it also designed and built the sign’s vertical support structure. The work entails a welded-steel-angle frame filled with local river rocks. Cox said a Breckenridge public-art sculpture, which features similar materials and a gas-flame crown, provided the inspiration.
“With the protruding arrows, this effectively became a five-sided sign,” he said. “So, it created some challenging interfaces. We kept the project modular so we could access the cube’s interior and all of its lighting power supplies.”
House of Signs created a somewhat different, but equally compelling, vibe with its freestanding sign built for Magical Scraps, a Breckenridge boutique that produces scarves, purses and other accessories for women and children. Working with an original logo that Cox said was “just some text with some squiggly lines,” Damoulis added texture to its design using Adobe Photoshop and Vectric Aspire.
The shop built a welded-steel substructure, and secured a CNC-routed, 15-lb. Corafoam HDU sign, fashioned with multiple, overlaid layers that were bonded together with Lord Adhesives epoxy. House of Signs fabricated the stylish rods and beads by cutting tin into pieces by hand, and then welding them to steel rod, bent and painted with a distressed-finish, metallic coating. Fabricators notched the rods into the HDU frame and adhered them with epoxy. The support post comprised a hollow HDU post, which sheathes a concrete-set, structural-wood post. The steel support structure was bolted through the sleeve and into the wood post.
“Creating a sign with no visible hardware made creating interfaces difficult, and creating abstract metal art required brainstorming, but it was an enjoyable project,” Cox said.