Rejuvenating the Old West

Pictured below is Paxton Signs’ recent update of the Virginia Dale Community Church sign, located in historic Virginia Dale, northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado. Close to the Wyoming/Colorado state line, Virginia Dale has the charm and expansive beauty of the west’s wind-swept high plains and rolling hills, including the community church that has been a beacon for rural residents since 1880. Photo Credit: Nikki Uthmann

For more historic Virginia Dale Community Church information:

Contact Paxton Signs using the contact feature, above, or call us at: 970-221-5519.

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Occasionally, we’re asked to repair not only signs, but also wood art and other outdoor items that have been damaged by UV exposure, weather or vandalism. Because custom service is part of Paxton Signs’ business model, these types of projects aren’t only interesting, they’re also sometimes challenging. For example, a recent project involved a retired Navy captain and his beloved carved, wooden eagle. The eagle was quite old, weathered, and in need of TLC.

The decades since his service to our country hadn’t diminished the captain’s respect for this cherished national symbol. His question: Could we repair the eagle that needed new wing tips and then freshen and refinish it after years of outdoor exposure? Further, could we create a replica twice the size of the original, say, 6 feet across?

Yes, yes and yes. Even though we prefer to use more exact carving techniques, the goal of the project was to repair the eagle, and then duplicate it, twice the size, all according to the original artist’s vision and workmanship.

Because the original eagle was old, its finish was the first consideration. Using the wrong refinishing product could make the result worse than the original. In the end, and not being able to determine the original finish, we decided on paint and faux techniques to restore its appearance.

The wing tips required repairing, then preparing the original surface for new replacements. We did this by sanding and shaping them to accept the new tips that were also shaped, carved and then glued to the prepared surface. Once painted, the repair is invisible.

The captain was thrilled with the finished large replica. It will grace his property entrance. The smaller, original eagle will soon be ready to display close by.


The repair process, shown below, followed by the finished, large replica.

Top left: Original eagle.  Top Center: Wingtip repair.  Top, right: A finished wingtip.  Bottom: Finished large replica, 6 ft across.

Good Sign Design Can Change Your Life . . . And Your Business!

It’s debatable whether an exceptional design actually gets customers to walk through the front door of your business. What’s not debatable is the trust and confidence businesses should expect from their design companies who have been hired to make their service or product memorable, even iconic.

Every business needs an identity, whether it’s for exterior or interior signs, print, product labeling, online presence, or all of the above. A business’s brand is THE most important identifier of its product or service. Think about the last time you bought your favorite beverage: The image of that product’s label immediately took shape in your mind, you looked for it, and when you found it, the connection was complete. The designers did their jobs very well. Unfortunately, there are exceptions, but even a bad design can still resonate in customers’ minds. The really great designs, however, can become national (even global) icons, such as, Nike, Apple, McDonalds, or the Coca-cola you may have just purchased.

At Paxton Signs, we are ultimately concerned with our customers’ brand, their image and identity, not only for their signs, but for use in all their marketing approaches. We take our responsibilities seriously, spending hours on and off the clock brainstorming, considering graphic options, then deciding on the most appropriate.

Below, is an example of how good logo design translates into a striking exterior sign. From the unique hanger to the hand-carved letters and gold leaf art element, the final result is a lasting impression on anyone who walks into the tea shoppe.

Paxton Signs is committed creative design, execution and craftsmanship. We never settle for “good enough.” More importantly, we accept the responsibility our customers have placed in us for more than 30 years: Great designs that can change their lives and their businesses.

Call today about our comprehensive design and sign services for your business or organization, 970-221-5519, or message us using the contact feature, above.

Sustainable Signs That Meet Your Needs

As a member of the sign industry in an environmentally conscientious world, Paxton Signs recognizes the importance of sustainability in its products and production methods. We have embraced sustainable practices as a key part of what we do, and have made them a part of the solution to protect our environment. We believe it is important to remain mindful and vigilant of our impact on our community and the world.

Selecting the Right Materials

One of the best ways to impact our green direction is to incorporate more environmentally-friendly materials in construction. At Paxton Signs, we strive to use greener materials (glass vs. plastic, paint vs. vinyl, wood vs. synthetic) in many of our creations, as well as fittings and attachments that meet this standard. When possible, we strive to use recycled materials. In fact, more and more of our clients are requesting recycled materials in their sign decisions.

Signs made of recycled materials have a unique, nostalgic and refined appearance, whether you keep the original look of the material or transform it into something entirely new. An example of this technique is the Birdsong/Katz Group sign, pictured below. The sign’s background was fabricated by using 100% re-purposed cedar fence pickets that were sanded and stained, and then attached using galvanized roofing nails to give the sign added nostalgic interest.

Our client requested a “contemporary rustic” look that incorporated recycled, stained fence pickets and large-head roofing nails, onto which water-jet-cut, brushed aluminum plate letters were off-set, giving the sign the desired traditional warmth and modern appearance.


The finished sign combined with complementary lighting fixtures.

Corner view of the Birdsong/Katz signage.

Signs That Meet Your Needs

Paxton Signs strives to meet your needs and the needs of an eco-conscious community. If you’re searching for eco-friendly materials in your signage, or seeking to use recycled materials, we are the sign makers who can help.

Call today about our comprehensive design and sign services for your business or organization, 970-221-5519, or message us using the contact feature, above.

“Green” In Full Swing!

“Green” consciousness has been in full swing for years. Increasingly, more businesses are recognizing the need to protect the environment – an environment that touches all levels of society, including the majority of industries. So much so, that now there is demand for “greener” options in nearly every aspect of outdoor advertising.

Recycled wood and hand-painted graphics give this Paxton Sign a 100% green attribute and no wasted materials whatsoever.

Consequently, the sign industry has found itself seeking solutions for these demands. New, more eco-friendly materials are being produced by manufacturers who are dedicated to the principles of sustainable development. Why? Because, like Paxton Signs, they know that businesses want to engage with environmentally like-minded businesses who are offering environmentally friendly materials and processes.

As with most trends, the green sign movement will continue to impact the majority of small businesses and consumers as they overwhelmingly request sustainable options. Presently, Paxton Signs offers interesting choices in materials and processes: Instead of plastic sign material, maybe choose glass. Instead of sign synthetics, wood is much more interesting. Why fill up landfills with vinyl products when simple, honest paint offers more interest and life expectancy to signs. In many cases, these three alternatives will actually be more cost effective, saving businesses advertising dollars.

As long as there is an audience, there will be signs, and as long as there is mankind, there is an audience. Right now, that audience likes sustainable options. This notable increase in genuine environmental consciousness means that a green, sustainable future in the sign industry is not only closer than we think, but much wiser and affordable.

Contact Paxton Signs at, 970-221-5519, or use our “contact” feature, above.

Gold Leaf Or Not To Gold Leaf

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Gold leaf. Shimmering, seductive, worthy of statuary and tombs for ancient gods, and for numerous works of art through the ages. The Egyptians were the first to perfect the process, followed by centuries of improvements that have resulted in a technique that has changed little for thousands of years.

Today, gold leaf is usually found in architecture, fine art and commercial enterprises, specifically, the sign industry. As a handcrafted application, Paxton Signs uses the same tools now as when the Egyptians created their magnificent art. The incredible durability of gold (and other metal leafing materials) surpasses other traditional applications, such as vinyl and paint. Over time, gold will outlast those products by many years since it is resistant to most chemicals and weather conditions. Incredibly, Egyptian gold treasures are still in pristine condition after 5000 years!

How Is Gold Leaf Done?

First, the gold used in gold leaf comes from gold sheets that have been hammered into extremely thin sheets. It comes in a variety of karats and shades. The most common, 23-karat, is what Paxton Signs uses for window projects. Other varieties include, yellow gold (91% pure), and white gold (50% pure), and are used for various surface effects. In addition, the term “metal leaf” is used for thin sheets of other metals that can be used in gilding. These include copper, aluminum, silver and platinum, as well as gold.

When gilding letters or a sign face, Paxton Signs prepares the surface by sanding it to a smooth finish, then priming it with a premium quality primer. After applying the primer, the surface is painted with an oil enamel paint. Multiple coats are used in this process. After drying, a coat of “size” is applied and allowed to dry to a tacky consistency. At this point, the gold leaf leaves are applied to the sized surface. A soft bristle brush is then used to remove excess gold.

Finally, soft surgical cotton is used to burnish the gold to a high-gloss sheen. If there are applications of other metal leafs to affect different results, they are applied after the gold.

Gold is hammered to an extremely thin thickness, creating the gold leaf that will be applied to a prepared surface.

After the surface has been prepped, the leaf application begins.

Gold leaf can be used for many types of art elements, but is usually used to define letters and logos.

Is Gold Leaf a Good Choice For Your Business?

Traditionally, professionals like lawyers and doctors prefer metal leaf. Businesses that want to project upscale appeal, such as horse enterprises, jewelers, resort areas, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and golf courses, are well served by utilizing gold leaf and other lustrous metals. Vehicles and boats whose owners desire upscale graphics will find that gold’s sumptuous sheen and durability is, by far, the best choice. And durability is perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of gold leaf: It is common for gold leaf to last 20 years.

Is There An Alternative To Gold Leaf?

Paxton Signs offers an alternative to real gold and other metal leafing: Metallic paint will yield a metallic-like finish. It is flexible, weather and fade-resistant, and adheres to wood, metal, vinyl and other substrates. Paxton Signs uses it for faux finishes and glazing. Non-flammable, non-toxic when cured, low odor, lead-free, non-gassing, gold paint offers built-in ultra violet light protection as well.

As an economical alternative to gold leaf, gold paint produces a subtle, flaked, metallic finish. Its longevity falls short of gold leaf’s significantly longer life span. Factors, like hot and cold and exposure to the elements, will determine the life span of gold paint, usually around seven years, depending on climate conditions. And, of course, gold paint will not produce the luster of 23-karat gold leaf.

A Paxton Signs design utilizing a central gold leafed element.

An example of effective gold leafing technique, highly visible and always beautiful.

Combined with hand painted art, gold leaf emphasizes the elegance of this entrance.

So, Gold Leaf Or Not To Gold Leaf . . .

The investment you make in your marketing efforts says a great deal about your business. It speaks volumes to your customers about your image. Considering the additional years of useful advertising that gold leaf offers, and using the professional sign design services offered by Paxton Signs, your choice “to gold leaf” will be one you will be happy with for many years.


Call Paxton Signs at, 970-221-5519, or contact us using our “contact” feature, above.

Hand-painted Signs: Beautiful, Authentic and Back!

As an art form all but lost, hand-painted (aka hand-lettered) signage is experiencing a resurgence. Business owners are placing value in the human touch, the stroke of a brush, and the beauty in artistic technique. It’s been a long time coming. At Paxton Signs, we welcome the comeback with open arms and ready hands.

The first sign that hand-painting was in decline, after centuries of dominance, came in the 1980s when vinyl cutting first made an appearance and craft began to make way for computers. The 90s proved even more disastrous, as inkjet printers and digital design put everything from window stickers to building and vehicle wraps mere keystrokes away.

A beautifully hand-painted Paxton Sign, painted in the 1980s, now a collectible.

Lately, however, retailers are increasingly turning to sign painters like Paxton Signs to convey a sense of individuality for their businesses; to stand out and communicate that their products aren’t run of the mill. The revival suggests a renewed interest in crafted and handmade work — a big comeback for hand-lettering in general, and the amazing history that surrounds the trade. Shopkeepers and business are also more aware of having something hand-painted for which they can point to a person – an artist – rather than a vinyl cutting machine.

Hand-painted sign on high-density MDO. Hand-lettered and custom cut. Faux letters were created by daubing with a paint-saturated plastic bag. Design by Paxton Signs.

Trending now is an interest in how things are made and by whom. This is apparent in the food we eat, the home furnishings we like, and the clothes we buy. The result is that the business world is starting to understand and appreciate the art and craft of hand-painted signs. Signs that represent something loved and crafted – our future icons – and historically, art.

Paxton Signs specializes in hand-painted signs. The tools of the trade are so simple, but the possibilities are almost limitless. We would like to show you how hand-painting can enhance your image AND your bottom line.

Call Paxton Signs today at, 970-221-5519, or email us by using our website feature, above.


When Should You Update Your Business Signage?

Business signs are essential to your company’s marketing efforts. A good sign tells your customers what you do and what sets your business apart from the competition. It’s the first impression they have of you and your professionalism. It follows, then, that outdated, shabby signs aren’t going to help you form new customer relationships. The question is, How can you tell when it’s time to give your business signs a face-lift?

What’s Your Sign’s Environment?

Most business owners face a particular challenge: the weather. The sun beats down relentlessly for part of the year, then snow, rain and wind can wreak havoc during the other half. Consequently, signs wear and age differently, based on their environment, but they ALL wear and age. The reality is, your business sign’s life span will be shortened by weather extremes.

Check your business signs for wear — if they’re faded, rusting, peeling, or losing pieces, you should think about replacement. You can upgrade your signs by using materials that are more durable and long-lasting, adding years to their life and usefulness.

When paint peels, colors fade, elements fall off, and weather takes its toll . . . time for a new look. . .time for a new sign!

Are You Changing Branding on Other Platforms?

If you’re toying with the idea of revamping your logo or changing your motto, or maybe re-branding in an effort to capture a new corner of the market, then it’s time to consider your overall marketing program, including your signs. Whenever you update your branding on other platforms, such as your website or packaging, your signage should be included for consistency across all channels of communication.

How Do Customers Perceive Your Business?

Even if your signs are standing the test of time and you haven’t made changes to any internal graphics or branding, it still might be time to update. A fresh, new look, brighter colors – a new focus – could be the jump-start your business needs to improve lagging sales. Remember, influencing customer perception is always critical. Nothing grabs a customer’s attention like a fresh, new, beautifully designed storefront sign.

Is it Easy to Update Signage?

The thought of tackling a redesign of your business signs may sound intimidating, but the process isn’t difficult, in fact, Paxton Signs will guide you through the process for a pleasant, rewarding experience. And if you’re only looking to change vehicle graphics or secondary vinyl signage, it’s easy to freshen and update those as well. When you work with the professionals at Paxton Signs, you can easily achieve uniform quality and branding in every category of your marketing program.

At Paxton Signs, we’re ready to help update your business signs. Call today and get started transforming your old signage with a new, eye-catching design.

Paxton Signs: 970-221-5519, or, email via our website,

Good Sign Design Starts Here

We’ve all seen poorly designed signs, banners and vehicle wraps. These incompetent products serve as a reminder that simply having a vinyl cutter doesn’t qualify one as a professional sign maker. Paxton Signs’ 40 years of sign design experience guarantees beautifully designed signs, banners and vehicle graphics

Paxton Signs strives to help our customers put their best foot forward. We believe that your success is our success, and we’re here to help design beautiful, effective, professional signs for any purpose.

A Few Pointers To Remember:

Contrast and spacing are two of the most basic and most important elements of effective sign design. Without proper spacing and contrast, signs are often too difficult to read and don’t stand out. Because signs and banners are often seen by people driving by, it’s important that they be easy to interpret at a glance. This usually means keeping all sign elements simple. Contrast helps the elements of your sign stand out, as shown below:

  • Contrast is what sets the main elements of signs apart from other information, as well as the background. It’s how we draw attention and ensure that essential information is communicated. There are a few ways to effectively use contrast. Two of the easiest are colors and fonts.
    • Colors – High-contrast colors grab attention. Black text on a white background offers maximum contrast, but many people find it a bit boring. White on black works well to change things up a bit.
    • Fonts – When designing your sign, we use different fonts that look good together. For example, we would use one font for your main message and another for your secondary message. We can achieve contrast by using different font styles and color.
    • A good design – makes use of both positive and negative space. Positive space includes letters and images, and negative space includes everything around and in between. Ideally,  negative and positive space should be well balanced. One of the most common mistakes is trying to cram so much information into the design that there isn’t enough negative space for organization. (See sign, below)
    • Kerning – Kerning, or the negative space between letters and numbers, is an important graphic design element. All letters are not the same size, and effective kerning keeps smaller characters close together to make words more cohesive.
    • A well-designed sign – should have a good balance of white space in relation to the other elements. Overly cluttered signs are difficult to read. Presenting too much information could cause viewers to miss the message entirely. The use of sufficient white space to group related elements close together helps viewers find what they’re looking for.
    • Proper spacing – is important. Below is an example of unreadable fonts,  poor spacing, and poor use of white/black “open” space:
  •  The St. Peter’s Fly Shop sign, below, is an example of a well-designed Paxton Sign that achieves all aspects of good design: Contrast, color, fonts, kerning, white/black space, then finished off with an overall pleasing shape, interesting art elements, and decorative posts:PAXTON SIGNS can create professional-quality signs, banners, vehicle graphics and more. Let us help you create better, more effective professional signs that mean business. And compliments!



Simple is Better. Always

Vehicle lettering is an effective marketing tool. Except when it isn’t.

It’s normal for business owners to expect the absolute most out of their vehicle lettering; the more information, the better, right? Fill every square inch with as much as possible; More bang for the buck, as they say. If only that were true. Although digital wraps have the potential for great marketing appeal, many digital wrap designers end up doing just the opposite by cluttering the vehicle surface with unnecessary elements and, literally, by trying to make a complex sales pitch while speeding down the highway.

There is a better way. A simpler, more attractive way. The Paxton Signs way.

Take a look at two examples of poor lettering design, below, and then one of good vehicle lettering design by Paxton Signs. Notice how the two poorly designed vans appear cluttered, confusing and ineffective. The Paxton Signs design announces Who and What is rolling by, using strong, clean, readable graphic elements. POW!

Above and Below: Notice the confusing layout and busy graphics.

Above: Who and What at a glance: Simple, effective Paxton Signs graphics are always better.

The really great news is that, not only does the Paxton Signs vehicle get noticed because it’s designed more effectively and efficiently, but the VALUE of the better design is greater than those expensive wraps!

Call Paxton Signs for a BETTER VALUE BID on your next vehicle or fleet. We believe simple is better. Always.