Do you remember back to when you were fifteen and a half-years-old and wanting to get your temporary driver’s permit? You had that little book to study in order to be able to pass the written test. There were all those rules to memorize and those silly little pictures to know what they meant. If you are like most people, you promptly forgot what each one of those little pictures stood for immediately after you took your test.
Those little pictures I keep referring to are street signs. Yes, those beautiful pieces of metal that come in all different colors and shapes. I have a slight infatuation with street signs. Not to the point where you will see me on some cable-network television show going through rehab to kick the habit but they just interest me.
I have always enjoyed street signs, but my interest in them was only perpetuated by my time spent working for our local city’s street department where we made all of our street signs. Making street signs is nothing more than playing with really big, expensive stickers. It is actually a relatively tedious and complicated process involving many steps.
1. Start with a roll of vinyl
2. A plotter (like a printer except it cuts the picture out instead) cuts the vinyl based of the image on the computer
3. Using an exacto knife, pick the excess vinyl off that will not be used on the sign. This process is called weeding
4. Next, cover the vinyl with transfer tape (a clear cellophane like material)
5. Then, line the vinyl up with the blank (actual aluminum sign) and tape a hinge on one side
6. Peel the backing (shiny white paper like any sticker has) off the vinyl
7. Gently using a roller or squeegee, press the vinyl down to the blank
That was one sign. As I mentioned before, it’s a relatively arduous process. It’s an extremely difficult process to describe, and it would be much easier to understand if you could actually watch the process take place. This is about as simply as it can be broken down. Some signs can be much more complicated because there are two or three different colors of vinyl on them, which have to be put down in layers and adds more steps. I wanted to give people a general idea of what it takes to just create one sign.
I am pointing out this amount of time and detail that it takes because it’s one of those unknown things, and on top of that, a large percentage of people driving do not even know what a lot of the signs stand for. People often fail to notice the plethora of signs that are hung up around towns. Unfortunately, I cannot keep from noticing the condition of the street signs whenever I drive somewhere. However, I won’t bore you by talking about high intensity or any of the laws that dictate how signs must be.
Now, I bought up street signs because they are a curious matter. They are important to aid us in our driving, but I know they are intriguing to other people besides myself. How do I know this? Have you ever noticed how many street signs get stolen? Have you ever seen workshops, garages, or college houses decorated in street signs? I don’t know what it is about signs, but people seem to enjoy them in some way. It could be the fact that they are much bigger up close than they look when we drive by them. It could be the bright colors. It could be the interesting symbols on them. Or it could just be because they are unique.