American Sign Museum

Sign Welcome

I’ve been meaning for years to visit the American Sign Museum here in Cincinnati. It opened in 2005, and finally, this past Friday, thanks to Super Summer Hours, Greg and I went. And we loved it.

The museum’s sign collection includes pieces from throughout sign history, starting with hand-carved wooden letters and going through the neon age.

This sample was in the lobby of the Beverly Sign Company. It showcased some of their gold leaf fonts. I love the descriptions in the arrows: “Nice for a bank,” “Pretty popular,” and everyone’s favorite, “The husky one.”

Sign Beverly samples

In our history lesson of signs, we learned about trade signs. These signs featured imagery that would indicate to someone who couldn’t read what the business did. Shoes were a popular motif as were watches.

Sign trade sign

These art deco neon signs were two of my favorites.

Sign Art Deco

While there were a lot of Cincinnati-centric signs, the signs have come from all over the country. The satellite came from a mall in California, I believe.

Sign room shot

I was dying to flip through all these lovely letters.

Sign lovely letters

One of our favorite examples was this salesman’s sample. The letter R glowed purple in an art deco box, but it was really just a white R illuminated by a red and a blue neon light.

Sign purple R

The R above by itself looks like this D.

Sign letter D

I meant to take a photo of the cool salesman’s suitcase, but in a sign museum, you get a lot of extra stuff in your pictures, too.

Sign signs

We signed up for the 2pm tour, as the tours were highly recommended by the museum web site. And I’m glad we did. Oddly enough, there weren’t a lot of signs about the signs, so the tour guide really helped put it all in context, and he told great stories about the signs, too. As a bonus, at the end of the tour, we were given a demonstration by a neon sign maker whose business is housed in the museum building.

It was truly one of our best Summer Hours Adventures. I would highly recommend a visit to the American Sign Museum if you’re ever in Cincinnati.

Sign for Kara


The Quilting Blues

Quilting Sawtooth Star 1

This past weekend, I spent all my sewing time working on the quilting for my Sawtooth Star quilt. As I mentioned last time, I already had about 10 hours in on it before this weekend. And yet Saturday before I started, I once again contemplated tearing out all the quilting.

Why would I tear out all that work? Because . . . everything.

OK, I’ll be more specific.

  • I don’t like my quilting. I just don’t think I’m very good at it. Yes, I could get better by practicing and by reading up on how to do it better. But I prefer to just will myself to get better, and so far that hasn’t worked, much to my frustration. So I look at my uneven stitches and non-rounded ends and cringe.
  • I’m way outside my comfort zone on this one. My preferred type of quilting is minimal straight lines. But since this is a gift (note to self: do not go way outside comfort zone on a gift), I wanted to add more quilting than usual. And I thought some motion would be nice to go on the background. So I’m doing straight quilting in the stars and wavy back-and-forth lines in the background. As you can see, the fabric is kind of pulling in the background. I’m hoping washing it once it’s finished will hide some of that.

Quilting Sawtooth Star 2

  • The back looks even worse. There are brief moments when I think that maybe the front isn’t so bad. And then I turn it over. It’s complete chaos. I used a navy thread in the bobbin, and I was very far into the quilting when I realized how much it was standing out against the light fabric (the fabric registered in my mind as navy, but it’s really quite light). So I switched to a lighter variegated thread in some areas, but of course, it is tough to keep it only on the light fabric. So now there’s light thread on the navy fabric. Oh, and those uneven, wonky stitches really show up in thread that accidentally contrasts with your fabric.

Quilting Sawtooth Star 3

  • And all that busy threadwork on a busy fabric is going against every one of my aesthetic instincts.

Quilting Sawtooth Star 4

So, what to do? I’m open to suggestions. But for now, I’m forging ahead. “Just get it done” is my new motto. I’m getting a little better at the back-and-forth lines, so I don’t hate every one that I make. And I do like the movement in the front background fabric.

But, man, is this a chore. Just a very un-fun project. And I probably have another 8 hours at least before the quilting is done. Then I’ll get to see how wavy the edges are, thanks to my directional wavy lines. Sigh.


Paper-Pieced Stars

PP star orange

Lately, most of my sewing time has been devoted to quilting my Sawtooth Stars quilt—I’m making it to give as a gift, so I wanted to put more quilting into it than I usually do. Ten hours in and I’m not quite halfway done with the quilting. Ugh. Big projects like that don’t provide me with the immediate satisfaction that I crave from my sewing, so I decided to give myself a break and make up some paper-pieced stars.

It’s hard to believe that I’m paper piecing for a break, considering how hard it was to wrap my mind around my first paper-pieced projects. But now that I’ve done several, I really do find it to be fun.

I’ve been wanting to make a quilt with stars of all different shapes and sizes placed in a random fashion, so I did a search for star patterns and came upon a treasure trove at Wombat Quilts. There Cath has links to tons of paper-pieced patterns, many of which she designed. I downloaded several to get started.

PP star pink

The orange star at the top of this post is called Stamp Star and is 8 inches finished. The pink one above is the 8-inch Stripey Star. Now that I’ve made this one once, I realize that there’s a cute pinwheel in the center that I’ll want to play up more next time.

PP star green

My initial thought was to have a mix of white and off-white backgrounds for the blocks, so I made up this 6-inch Starry Night block. I’m thinking these colors might be a bit too muted for what I’m going for, so this guy is getting set aside for the time being.

PP stars grouped

My plan is make bright pink, orange, and yellow stars on a primarily white background. You can see I have a yellow one started above. We’ll see how/if it all comes together, but for now, these blocks are a nice diversion from quilting.