To scroll through the large images above, use the arrows to the right and left of your screen. Below, click on any image to enlarge it. The following biography is from Dave’s website…
Dave Smith is a name that has become synonymous in sign-writing circles with high quality, hand crafted reverse glass signs and decorative mirrors. It is fair to say that now-a-days this is the main thrust of his work. There is, however, more to his story…
His career in sign-writing began in 1984, when he left Westlands School in Torquay, aged 16 and was apprenticed for 5 years with Gordon Farr and two associates. These gentleman were traditional sign-writers, who had come up through the ranks and Gordon, in particular had an almost uncanny ability to paint letters, accurately laid out, without even a preliminary sketch. Under their tutelage, Dave became an accomplished draftsman, accurate letter painter and talented pictorialist.
Design idea for the Booths Gin bottle which was based on the cut glass windows and etched panels that are still common throughout Great Britain today.
Close detail of a workshop panel made over a week. Various gilding techniques were used along with stippling and blending of shades and drop shadows.
Glass sign for Jameson Whiskey in Dublin . Techniques include cut glass, acid etching, hand painted lettering, deep sand blasting, gold leaf and many more. Made in reverse on the back of the glass.
Hand painted, reverse gilded glass sign. The letters and border were acid etched the 12 karat silver border was glue chipped. The foot was deep sandblasted and water gilded. To the left and right is hand cut gilded stars. The circle border has abalone shell inlaid to the glass.
Close detail shows the hand blended shading and the V cut upright silver engraving in the center of this letter. Matt gilding is just behind the letter center. The letter is stipple embossed with mica flakes and acid that marks the glass in depth.
In 1992, Dave set up his own sign business in Torquay dealing every aspect of the sign trade from vehicle graphics to 3D installations but always with his own stamp of unique design and pristine execution.
In the same year, on a visit to New Zealand, he had the immense good fortune to be invited to Wilmington, California to meet Rick Glawson and his crew of the famous “Fine Gold Sign Company”. Rick, who is sadly no longer with us, was universally regarded by his peers as the godfather of gilding, with a reputation for sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of glass decoration with eager students of the craft. The two became firm friends and Dave thereafter attended the California conclave of Letterheads every year. This is a gathering of talented sign artists, carvers, muralists and gold leaf experts. They further fueled Dave’s passion for creating elaborate, ornate mirrors and reverse glass signs of distinction. At the peak of “his sign company” success, Dave sold the business, to concentrate more fully on gilding, painting and acid-etching glass, adding brilliant cutting, so that he could fully replicate the Victorian glass work he admires so much. From home in Torquay, Devon, UK, he continues his quest to uncover and share even more knowledge of the processes involved before it becomes a lost art.
Hand carved glass fascia with metal tin pressed letters gilded in 23 karat gold leaf and placed behind the glass.
Deep blasted, water gilded in 3 different karats of gold leaf and curved in a kiln to give dimension.
Acid etched Monogram letters hand gilded in 24 karat gold leaf. This design was made on the reverse side of the glass similar to 1900 advertising techniques.
Dave has never lost sight of the debt he owes to Gordon Farr, Rick Glawson and others too numerous to mention, for sharing their knowledge and passion with him. So, in return, he shares the fruits of his study with his many friends, old and new, in the sign trade, through courses, step by step instruction and one-to-one chats on the phone or internet.
He is supported, unwaveringly by his wife Mel and his daughters, Hannah, Lauren and Millie, who, tolerate his long work hours, frequent trips abroad and the steady stream of visitors through the family home, who come to marvel at the work and learn. For this, and for them, Dave is eternally grateful.
Gilded acid etched blend on a curved piece of glass. Gilding made using gelatin size and deionized water.
Would you like to see more from Dave Smith? Here’s some links to get you there: