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The gift for the person who has everything? A personalised, illuminated sign

Last Sunday in my Insider column, I wrote about illuminated letters. Here is the full version, with images...

Typography has been and isn’t going away as a trend (though we do – hurrah – finally seem to have fallen out of love with the ubiquitous ‘keep calm’ bonanza). But the next step in letter love is illuminated signage, specifically featuring letters or words. My friend Abi emailed to ask where she could get a giant letter ‘M’ that lights up for her husband’s 40th birthday present. They’re not everywhere and there are a few different ways to go. Here’s what we discovered: 

Vintage marquee sign, around £160, Etsy
If you’re not in a rush, eBay and Etsy will come up trumps… eventually. Especially if you have your heart set on an original rather than a repro version. The (not less obvious) keywords to go for are: fairground; illuminated; marquee; signage lightbulb letter (and the dreaded ‘vintage’ – which it’s worth searching without too, as anyone with the nous to use it, has the nous to charge more). 

Original illuminated 'N', £175 from Something or Other
Try, too: the Vintage Wall; (if you have cash to splash); Something or Other (above) – and the trade markets (there is a calendar available for the six biggies at – and includes heaps more to choose from, though you'll really need to sift through for the good ones). 

Original letter 'O', Signs for Homes, £145
I'm not usually a fan of reproduction – and repro signage can look particularly ‘meh’. But if you want something specific spelt out, and have a deadline – it’s probably your best bet. And Signs for Homes make stunning old-style copies, employing a pro sign-maker (below, left). Individual light bulb letters (33 x 40cm) start at £195. (They sell originals too, above.) 

Bespoke signs made to order, £225, from Signs for Homes; 'Dancing' sign
(put your own lights behind it) from Rockett St George, £89
If you happen to want to spell the word ‘dancing’, Rockett St George sell a beautiful – new – Perspex panel for £89 (above, right), modelled on a 1950s nightclub sign, with red letters on the front; you can put your own light behind it if you like.

Or make like Tracey Emin and buy ready made words and phrases (‘kiss’, ‘hot’ and ‘I love you’), or create your own for £45 per letter (plus a transformer – from £45-£100). Available from The Letter Room

Follow Oleander and Palm's instructions on making your own illuminated letter using old jam jars.
Or make your own. Get step-by-step guides for the super simple plywood, jam jar and paint version, Oleander and Palm (above, a very nice site) or go a bit more pro here. sell the festoon light strings you’ll need and 'foamcore' is better known as 'foamboard' in the UK for Googling. Do send photos if you manage it!

Or if you just want to ogle such glowing beauties, check out his current pop-up shop and exhibition (on until January) in London, by the renowned neon artist, Chris Bracey (above). You can read about him in the Independent.

1 comment :

  1. Signs can be a great gift! I think this is a great idea. Sometimes you don´t know what to gift a person that has everything and this is a great way to give something cool. Signs can look great in a mancave or maybe your friend owns a bar or business and this can be the best way to share your affection.