Neon Signs – effective advertising with light.
Neon lettering attracts attention. It sets a luminous tone and is a very special medium, because it combines typography, luminous colour, traditional craftsmanship and creativity with light.
Neon advertising has been around since 1896. And today it is still produced as it was over 100 years ago – by hand. Since the 1950s, neon has also played an important role in art. It has been glowing and shining in museums and galleries ever since the first artists experimented with the effect of neon colours. Neon lettering is currently experiencing a renaissance and is the must-have in the advertising industry.
The demand for luminous art is enormous, and so we too, at Fresh iD, work together with selected factories to be able to bring to life the individual wishes of our customers. We want to further establish neon’s place in the advertising industry and be the first port of call for creative lamps that trigger brand recognition.
Today, we would like to give a small look behind the scenes into the history of neon and into the manufacturing process of neon lettering.
Traditional craftsmanship of the glassblower
The manufacture of neon lettering harks back to the traditional craft of glassblowing, a dying profession that only a handful still practise in Germany and for which there has not been any apprentice since 2009. The craft of blowing neon letters is again a specialism. It requires creativity, a very good sense of visual judgment, an artistic vein, and a basic technical understanding, because of course the whole thing must also work in practice. The lettering is manufactured on a scale of one-to-one, and the glassblower has to use his or her visual judgment to estimate where and by how much the glass is to be bent.
Production of neon lettering
Glass tubes are used as the raw material for neon lettering. The final lettering is drawn up one-to-one on paper and serves as a template for the glassblower for the measurements. Now the glass tube is heated and blown into shape with the help of a rubber hose. The hose ensures that the glass remains steady and that the walls do not cave in due to the heat. At the end of the glass tube there is a cork to prevent air from escaping. With the help of the template, the glassblower can see where the glass needs to be bent and whether the bends are correct. Very round letters, such as O, or letters with a sharp corner, such as V, are particularly difficult to bend.
However, the finished letters made of glass only come into their own with light, and the noble gas neon sees to this. For this, an electrode is connected to each unit on both sides, so that the natural colour of neon is a bright red. Together with the gas argon and the element mercury, it produces blue light. If you would like a different colour, you can either colour the glass or coat the inside of the glass with a powder. The second option has the advantage that the glass is white when the unit is switched off and only shines in the desired colour when it is switched on.
During the so-called „dipping“, the final stage, connections on the back that are intended not to light up are covered with black or white paint. Since the flow of the glass tube cannot easily be broken, the writing is produced all in one go. Letters that are not normally joined to one another can thus be covered and will no longer light up.
Effective advertising with neon light
When it comes to effectively drawing attention to a product or brand, neon is a tried and tested and successful method. Light is one of the basic human needs, served by neon advertising.
Neon lettering signs are not – as often thought – created by machine. They are made exactly as they were in the 19th century – individually, by hand – and are thus genuine unique items.
In the next blog post, we will feature a different form of illuminated advertising – LED. We will also showcase finished products that we have been able to produce for a large customer.