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Blanchett Neon Retro Sign Reconstruction

As we began the planning process to celebrate our 70th anniversary, we knew that there was only way to truly appreciate and honour our heritage, and that is through signage! We are so excited to announce we will be re-creating the classic neon sign display from our second location (10224-109th Street), and donating it to the Edmonton Downtown Neon Museum.

Once completed, this retro sign will be officially unveiled with an formal lighting ceremony at our September 28th, 2017 Open House, and all are invited to attend.

Stay tuned to our Social Media feeds and this blog for the very latest updates and photos as the sign is built!

Project Background

Making this idea into reality could not have been possible without a number of great individuals that have our most sincere thanks; Tim Pedrick of the Alberta Sign Association, David Johnston from the City of Edmonton, and most importantly, our fantastic staff involved in the design, build and installation processes!

Design Process

The first step was for our talented design team to recreate the sign in a colour format from the single black & white photo we have. Unfortunately, because no records were kept from this time period, this step took a bit of imagination, combined with our knowledge of the most commonly used materials (neon, metals and paint), from the time the sign was originally manufactured. Internally, a bit of back and forth took place over the little decisions:

  • What was the overall size was the display?
  • Was the “Neon” of “Blanchett Neon” illuminated by Ruby Red, Con Red or Tangerine neon?
  • Was the background a painted feature or a metal finish?
  • How will the new display be mounted to the steel structure of the Edmonton Neon Museum?

Finally, we arrived at the following rendering, and the design was approved by the City of Edmonton and Alberta Sign Association in its accuracy and historical relevance:

Blanchett Retro Sign

Layout

Technology has changed significantly since the 1950’s when our original sign was produced, and the large wall in our manufacturing facility that was once used for creating layouts by hand is now empty, having been replaced by a large format printer that provides the installation pattern for all custom signage displays.

Blanchett Neon Retro Sign Restoration

Projects like this feature a balancing act; we could honour our heritage and utilize historically accurate techniques and processes, or choose more time & cost efficient methods that are common today.

With a slim window in production to ensure the display is completed in time for the official unveiling at our Open House, we compromised; the full sized template was printed via our in-house large format printer, and all loading and detailing for the neon illumination was laid out by hand.

Edmonton Neon Museum Blanchett Classic Sign

Sheet Metal Structure

Once the neon pattern was finalized and all project materials ordered, the next step is in our sheet metal department, forming the structure and internal support components of the retro sign. AutoCAD production drawings are created by our drafting department and contain all information required to accurately build the display:

Blanchett Neon Retro Sign Edmonton Downtown Neon Museum

 

Our metal department is by far the largest sector of our manufacturing facility. Featuring four sheet-metal journeyman, this is the stage in the production process where all metal components are cut, bent and welded to form frames and structural elements.

 

Sheet Metal Department

August 25 – Update

Completed Structural Frame

 

The framework of the retro sign is completed, and the paper pattern is in the process of being transferred onto the sign structure. Once transcribed, the mounting holes for all neon and electrical components and access hatches are drilled.

 

 

Paint

With the frame complete and all access and mounting holes drilled, the next step in the process is for the entire structure to enter our paint booth.

Retro Neon Sign

 

Research & Development

In the world of custom signage where very few displays or building conditions are similar, Research & Development initiatives are a big part of our manufacturing day-to-day operations.

For this retro display in particular, the main purpose of our testing was to determine the best method to achieve the background “checkerboard” pattern that would both honour the look of the original display and align with signage manufacturing techniques from the era.

The result was an sanded “grain” worked into the raw metal finish that was alternated horizontally and vertically and then painted over with a semi gloss clear coat of our automotive grade paint to really emphasize the final result.

 

Hand-Painted Details

Before the days of vinyl images, all signage graphics were painted carefully by hand, and in the interest of remaining as true to those traditions as possible, the graphics for this replica sign were completed using the same techniques.

We are truly fortunate to have some of the most talented production staff in the industry that are capable of achieving these hand-crafted graphics for projects such as this.

 

Neon

This blog will continue to be updated as the production of our retro sign continues.

Blanchett Neon 70th Anniversary

For more on our history as we celebrate 70 years in business, check out:

Edmonton Classic Neon Signs

2017 marks a major milestone for our home-grown family business, and we would like to formally invite you to join us September 28, 2017 between 3:00 – 8:00pm for an open house at our Edmonton office (12850 St Albert Trail) remembering the last 70 years and recognizing YOU; the customers, suppliers and talented staff that have made it possible.

Tour our facility, meet our talented staff, and be inspired by the very latest technologies with demonstrations including:

With door prizes, live jazz trio, classic cars from the era (Weather permitting) and more, we hope to have you join us! Please RSVP to BNL70@blanchettneon.com and be sure to follow our company pages and hashtag #BNL70 on Social Media for the latest updates on this exciting event.

 

Schedule of Events

Tours

Tours of our facility will be running every thirty (30) minutes for the full duration of the event.

  • BNL Back Shop

BNL Retro Sign Lighting

Join us at 4:45 for the official lighting ceremony of the re-created, original Blanchett Neon sign!

  • BNL Back Shop

Seminars

Formal seminars will be held in our front-office boardroom for additional information on some of our more unique products & services:

4:00 – Daktronics

5:00 – Lenmak Exterior Innovations

  • Custom cladding products

6:00 – LSW Lighting

  • RGB (Colour-changing) LED illumination

Featured Partners

In addition to our own products and services, we are proud to feature some of our top partners & suppliers:

Neon Sign Re-Creation

Blanchett Neon Retro Sign Reconstruction

We are very proud to announce that in celebration of 70 years in the sign industry, we will be re-creating our original neon sign and donating it to the Edmonton Neon Museum! Join us to view the completed display … read more.

Celebrating 70 Years

For more on our 70th Anniversary check out:

  Edmonton Classic Neon Signs

Classic Edmonton Neon Signs

Since founding in 1947 we have seen trends come and go, but even the most technologically advanced display cannot compete with the unique look of classic neon signs. As we celebrate 70+ years  in business, we looked back at some of our favourite neon creations we’ve completed over the years:

 

Esso

At 22′ high, these open channel letters remain one of the largest sets we have ever completed! Located at 112th Street & Jasper Ave, the display was easily viewed from the former Molson Brewery (far right corner):

Neon Signs Edmonton

Photos via Blanchett Neon Archives.

Seven Seas

Opened in 1948, Seven Seas Restaurant located on Jasper Ave between 105 & 106 Streets was the first licensed establishment in Edmonton, and one of the largest restaurants in Western Canada at the time. Date of install estimated as late-40’s.

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Colour photo via the Royal Alberta Museum Archives.

Mayfair Hotel

Demolished in 2010, the former Mayfair Hotel on the corner of 108th Street & Jasper Avenue in downtown Edmonton featured both exposed neon and internally-illuminated letters. Photo date estimated at late 1950’s.

Classic Edmonton Signs

Photos from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Prudham Building Supplies

Founded by George Prudham in the 1930s, Prudham Construction in South Edmonton was renamed Prudham Building Supplies in the 1940’s. (Photo estimated as early 1950’s).

Edmonton Sign Installations

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Podersky’s Furniture

Founded by Edmonton icon Louis Podersky, Podersky’s Furniture changed locations numerous times; from downtown on Jasper Avenue to a prominent Whyte Ave intersection, we are proud to have supplied multiple classic neon signs for their various locations:

 

Jasper Avenue Location

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Whyte Ave Location

Classic Neon Signs

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Photo via City of Edmonton Archives.

Rainbow Ballroom

The iconic Rainbow Ballroom located on Whyte Ave and 108th Street was THE place to be Friday nights in the 1950’s & 60’s to catch the best local talent and dance the night away. The venue was rebranded as a bingo in the 1980’s and eventually demolished.

Classic Neon Signs

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Waterloo Motors

Currently known as Waterloo Ford, this classic Edmonton sign was installed in the early 1950’s.

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Saxony Motor Inn

Currently rebranded as a Howard Johnson on the corner of 156th Street and Stony Plain Road, the former Saxony Motor Inn sign was installed in 1966.

Edmonton Sign Install Vehicles

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Soda Jerks

Installed along the main corridor in St. Albert, this classic neon sign stood high above a classic cars meet up that took place most Friday and Saturday nights until the business closed in 2003.

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Western Cycle

Initially installed in the mid-1980’s, this display has been upgraded several times in the years following.

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Casino Yellowhead 

In the late 1990’s when a private ownership group opened three new casino locations in Edmonton and Calgary, it was our honour to supply these unique neon signs to their prominent Yellowhead Trail location.

Edmonton Neon Signs

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Edmonton Classic Neon Signs

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Edmonton Classic Neon Signs

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Edmonton Classic Neon Signs

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Edmonton Neon Museum

No feature on our favourite neon signs would be complete without mentioning what is quickly becoming a can’t miss downtown attraction; the Edmonton Neon Museum. A collaboration between the Alberta Sign Association and City of Edmonton, all displays featured in the outdoor museum have been generously donated by their current owners and restored by local sign shops. These are a few of the classic neon signs currently on display that we have restored or even originally manufactured:

 

Canadian Furniture

Originally manufactured by Blanchett in the early 1970’s, the owners kept the projecting sign following closure of their business in the 1990’s. The classic neon sign was refurbished and re-installed at the Edmonton Neon Museum in 2012.

Original Sign Photo Via the City of Edmonton.

 

Canadian National Railway

This specific sign was originally located in Calgary, but is similar in style to many displays located here in Edmonton. Blanchett Neon originally manufactured (date unknown) and in 2012 restored this display.

Photo from Blanchett Neon Archives.

Contact Us

Love classic neon, or information on Edmonton’s signage history? We want to hear from you! For more Classic Neon Signs or information on our award-winning signage displays, please contact us:

Edmonton Sign Installation

For this first look back at our 70 years in business, we will be featuring one of the most important aspects of our process; the installation of custom signage displays and the various vehicles, tools and teams that have helped establish our reputation as a leader in the Western Canadian Sign Industry.

 

The Early Years (1946 – 51)

For the first years of our existence as a division of Blanchett Decorators, all signage installations took a back seat to the decorating work, and the mounting of custom neon signs during this period took place mainly during evenings and weekends when the main business was closed, and vehicles available.

Learn more about our history.

Edmonton Sign Installation Vehicle

Our First Location at 11448 Jasper Ave.

Following incorporation as individual entities in 1947, business grew quickly and the purchase of a boom truck greatly expanded our sign installation capabilities, and in turn the manufacturing side as well.

Edmonton Sign Installations

Circa Early 1950’s

We’ve come a long ways from balancing half on a scaffold and half on a ladder while installing signage; our current safety program has not only achieved COR status, but is recognized as among the best in the industry.

For more on our commitment to safe work practices.

Edmonton Sign Install Vehicles

Circa Early 1950’s

 

Second Location (1952-69)

Following our early success and growth the former facility became quickly insufficient in size and capabilities, and both Blanchett Decorators and Blanchett Neon moved in 1952 to a larger facility downtown at 10224-109th Street.

Edmonton Sign Installations

Our Second Location at 10224-109th Street

The next few years saw continued business growth, as well as the emergence of a formal “Service” department. This new division required vehicles smaller than traditional installation trucks to fit in a wider variety of sites across Northern Alberta, and multiple service vans joined our growing fleet.

More on Service & Maintenance.

As we went smaller with our install vans, by the mid-to-late 50’s we also went larger with our boom trucks. The very latest technology at the time featured hand-cranks to raise and lower signage, and this sign installation vehicle was actually still in use for another company in the mid-90’s!

Edmonton Sign Install Vehicle

Circa Mid 1950’s

As we entered the 1960’s and 70’s, neon remained the illumination method of choice, and talented crews with signage installation vehicles traveled across Western Canada as our market continued to grow. The below signage display for Avis Rent a Car was installed in Yellowknife, NWT in the late 1950’s.

Historical Sign Installation Vehicles

Circa Late-1950’s

Multiple vehicles meant larger-scale installations, and some of the largest displays in Edmonton and area at that time were installed by Blanchett!

Circa 1960’s

 

Third Location (12850 St Albert Trail)

Once again we had outgrown the capacity of our facilities, and a final move was made to our current plant at 12850 St Albert Trail in 1969.

Freestanding Pylon Signs have always been one of our specialties, and the new, larger manufacturing plant helped expand our production output, with a shift to a greater number of larger displays completed on a more regular basis.

Sign Installation Vehicles

Circa Mid-1970’s

Circa Late-1970’s

Sign Install Vehicles

Circa Early-1980’s

 

Modern Era

Today, our crews still travel across Western Canada installing signage displays for a wide variety of clients. In mid-2017 our newest service van will be joining a current fleet of 3 boom trucks and 3 service vans to continue our proud tradition of safe, efficient signage installations.

 

Contact Us

We want to hear from you! Questions or comments about our Signage Installation Services? Contact us today:

Since 1947, our art department has featured some of the best graphic designers in the industry, and nothing is better than seeing their talent recognized and appreciated by others in the sign industry!

Most recently, this recognition includes the 2017 Alberta Sign Association Sign Design competition, and we are proud to announce that two displays we completed in 2016/17 were deemed most impressive in their respective categories, and one other received an honourable mention. Big congratulations to our design team!

Here are our latest award winning sign displays:

Empire Building – Winner (Illuminated Building Signage)

Kipling Realty was looking for a partner company to design, build and install two (2) signage displays that offered the greatest exposure within a specific budget for their high-profile downtown Edmonton location, and we were proud to have been chosen for our design of two reverse channel displays.

For the purpose of this design competition, we submitted the lower display; a 24″ tall set of Reverse Channel Letters mounted to a beam above the front entrance with an over-sized backer behind each letter to achieve the “halo” effect.

As a testament to our designer, Jeff Billey’s skill, take a look at the below design concept provided to the client, and note how similar it looks to the final award winning sign. Our goal is to provide renderings of every proposed display as accurately as possible to help clients realize our vision for their signage, and in this case, the drawing couldn’t have been much closer to the final result!

Award-Winning Sign Design

SK Business Centre – Winner (Non-Illuminated Signage)

As happy as we are to be recognized for this non-illuminated sign design, it is the project as a whole we are most proud of.

Starting with developing a new logo for the client, this complete signage program also included an exterior directory, individual channel letters and a freestanding pylon sign complete with an electronic message centre.

Award Winning Sign design

More on our comprehensive signage services.

Bee Bell Bakery – Honourable Mention (Historical Signage)

Refurbished in-house and installed at the Edmonton Downtown Neon Museum, this sign restoration project was a true labour of love. From re-painting the damaged cabinet to repairing and replacing the neon tubing, our team brought the classic display back to perfect condition to be enjoyed once again by visitors to the Neon Museum.

Read more about the restoration process of the Bee Bell Bakery retro sign.

 

Other Design Entries

Although these designs did not receive top honours at the 2017 ASA Design Competition, they are still winners to us! Here are a few other displays completed in 2016/17 that we entered in the competition:

City of Edmonton Signage (Illuminated Building Signage)

As the first completed tower in the new downtown Ice District, two (2) sets of RGB illuminated channel letters were manufactured and installed by our talented team for the Edmonton Tower. This was one of the most complex and largest projects that we completed over the past year.

Read more on Edmonton Skyline Signage.

Lynnwood Centre (Illuminated Freestanding Signage)

With custom cladding complimenting the renovated building facade, these two (2) illuminated pylon signs offer attention-grabbing exposure to the tenants of the centre.

Learn more about Pylon Signs.

Harvest Pointe (Illuminated Freestanding Signage)

As the fifth freestanding pylon sign we’ve completed for Harvest Pointe in South-East Edmonton, this double-sided pylon features decorative side and roof cladding along with individual channel letters with perforated film that results in the letters appearing black during the day and illuminate bright white at night.

BNL Retro Sign (Historical Signage)

Stay tuned for more details to come on this exciting new project!

Contact US

We want to hear from you! Have questions or comments about our award winning sign designs? Use the form below to Contact Us:

Looking for a change in pace? We are looking for an electrical wiring technician to join our award-winning production team starting immediately.

Edmonton Electrical Wiring Technician

Electrical Wiring / Signage Assembly

At Blanchett Neon, we are committed to providing custom signage displays of the highest quality to our clients, and our production team is essential to every successful project. A family owned and operated business, we are looking for an electrical wiring / assembly professional to join our industry-leading team in a full-time position beginning immediately.

Our wiring / assembly department is one of the final steps in the signage manufacturing process, and applicants will be responsible for working in a team environment to complete the wiring and final assembly of electrical components into our signage displays.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Wiring signage displays with LED or fluorescent illumination.
  • Testing and troubleshooting

Skills:

  • Ability to interpret blueprints to a high degree of accuracy
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • The ability to interact cooperatively and collaboratively with others as a team.
  • Can work in a physical environment including bending, standing, sitting, all of which vary in duration.
  • Capable of working in a safety-first environment, and working to uphold Blanchett Neon’s COR safety status.

Requirements:

  • Experience in electrical wiring (preferably in a sign shop) required.
  • Valid Driver’s License and vehicle.

Competitive wages and benefits available. For more information, please send an email with your resume to dneiman@blanchettneon.com

 

Welcome to the Team

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Blanchett Neon is excited to announce Jim Kosh will be joining our team beginning January 9, 2017 as Sales Manager. As we enter our 70th year in business, we can think of no better time to bring on board an experienced industry professional to help us kick off our next 70 years.

With over 30 years of sales and project management experience, Jim will work closely with our Sales team to build upon established relationships and partnerships to provide an industry leading, complete buying experience for our current customers, and continue our tradition of comprehensive project management services for businesses that may not know us yet.

Additionally, Jim’s role will include assistance in coordinating large-scale projects, streamlining production requirements and generally improving the purchasing experience.

Join us in welcoming Jim to the Blanchett family, and stay tuned to this blog and social media for more news and events as we celebrate 70 years of serving Western Canada’s business signage needs.

Since 1947 we have been proud to complete many Edmonton Sign Installations that have become landmarks throughout the City. From custom neon to freestanding pylons, how many of these displays do you recognize?

Rexall Place Signage Edmonton

Rexall Place

As one of the largest signage projects we have ever completed, the two monster 20′ x 47’-2″ custom oval-shaped logos were manufactured and installed by Blanchett Neon on the Northlands Coliseum here in Edmonton back in 2002. Although these displays were removed in 2016, with the opening of Rogers Place, they will not be quickly forgotten!

Read more about the Rexall Place signage project.

Edmonton Sign Installation

Mayfield Common

Located at the busy West-Edmonton intersection of Stony Plain Road and 170th Street, the Mayfield Common Rotating pylon sign featuring extensive custom neon illumination. In addition to the rotating entrance display, we also completed directory wayfinding and multi-tenant pylon signage at the centre.

More on Signage Solutions.

gateway-park-750

Gateway Park

For those travelling North on the QEII into Edmonton, the Gateway Park entrance display is one of the first welcomes to the Edmonton region! Featuring unique elements of the Edmonton (and area) skyline, this Edmonton sign installation is constructed of layered metal illuminated with flood lighting for a halo-effect.

Edmonton Neon Sign Installation

Palace Casino

This classic Edmonton Sign Installation is a great throwback to our days of neon! The custom building treatment and individual letters feature hand-blown neon tubing details for a captivating look fitting for the West-Edmonton Casino.

sec-750

South Edmonton Common

Just a ways past the Gateway Park display along Gateway Boulevard is South Edmonton Common, and these 40′ high freestanding pylon displays. We have continued to work extensively with South Edmonton Common and Cameron Developments over the last 10+ years, manufacturing numerous pylon, wayfinding and tenant building signage displays.

More Signage

For more Sign Installations that we have completed in Edmonton and across Western Canada, check out our portfolio.

St Albert Signage Bylaw Changes

  • Should a signage bylaw control the content shown on a specific display?
  • Should a preference be given to local business over 3rd party billboard advertising agencies?
  • If a digital display is located close to your business, will that effect your ability to have a similar electronic display?

After growing interest from local business and the Signage Industry, the City of St. Albert is planning on updating their land-use bylaw to formally allow digital displays (among other changes) within City Limits, with a public consultation taking place Monday, August 22nd from 2:00-9:00pm.

A previous hearing was held January 2016, and that feedback went into the proposed bylaw that is now expected to go before city council Q3 2016.

Local Business Impact

The updates to this signage bylaw will greatly effect new and existing local businesses, specifically along major routes in and out of the City. With these changes in mind, we are highly encouraging local business owners to educate themselves by viewing the updated bylaw, and attending the hearing to have your voices heard to administration and decision makers within the City of St Albert.

We will be at the hearing to answer any questions regarding specific signage or Electronic Message Centre terminology, as well as to support local business in the right for visible, effective and appropriate signage.

Digital Displays

DOW 750

LED display we supplied to the City of Fort Saskatchewan

Digital displays, also known as electronic message centres (EMC’s) or LED signs, are a great tool for businesses of all sizes to advertise services and remain top of mind to clients through a cost-effective advertising medium.

Studies have proven time and time again that these displays are not a distraction to traffic (eliminating safety concerns), as well as that digital boards have the ability to increase sales immediately by up to 150%.

As one of the top re-sellers of digital signage in Western Canada, we have seen the impact that our clients (many of whom are independent, local businesses), have had in terms of success found through using the technology, and are proponents of encouraging every municipality to pass appropriate, effective digital signage legislation.

  • We have provided our professional expertise to various municipalities throughout Alberta (including the City of Edmonton), to draft LED sign bylaws.

Make your voice heard August 22, and we hope you will join us.

More Information

For more information on the City of St. Albert Bylaw Changes, as well as our experience working with local municipalities on effective signage legislation, please contact us.

Bee Bell Bakery Neon Sign Edmonton

Sign at Original Location

The newest addition to the Edmonton Downtown Neon Museum may bee one of the sweetest! (Pun intended). Following our previously completed sign restorations for Canadian Furniture, Northern Alberta Railway, and Canadian National Railway, we were very excited when the opportunity came to restore the classic display for Bee-Bell Health Bakery.

Check out our previous post for more information and photos on the first round of Sign Restorations.

 

Sign Restoration Process

Neon Sign Restoration

Sign Prior to Original Restoration in 2011

 

The Bee-Bell Sign was previously brought into our shop in 2011 for a full restoration process, so when the owners donated the sign to be installed at the Edmonton Neon Museum, only minor paint and final finishes touch-ups were required.

 

Sign Restoration

The small details on the Bee Wings needed to be repainted

 

Every signage display that goes through our shop (either as a sign restoration or a brand new display) is tested in the wiring phase of production to ensure all components are in perfect working condition prior to leaving for installation.

In the previous restoration process, we replaced approximately 10 units of custom neon tubing, so these replacement parts were re-tested, and the sign was (unsurprisingly), working as well 5 years later as the day it was re-installed in 2011.

 

Bee Bell Bakery Sign Restoration

Fully-Restored, Illuminated Sign in our Shop

 

The next step in the process was to re-install the completed, and fully functioning sign at the Edmonton Sign Museum at the Downtown Edmonton location on the side of the Telus Building on the corner of 104th Street and 104 Avenue.

Learn more about our installation services.

 

Sign Restoration

Sign Restoration

On Site- 750

Install- 750

Sign Restoration

Completed Sign Restoration

 

It was our absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to complete even the smallest sign restoration details on this playful, classic neon display, and we are looking forward to the next sign restoration opportunity to add to the Edmonton Downtown Neon Museum!

 

About Blanchett Neon

Established in 1947, Blanchett Neon Ltd is one of Edmonton’s most diverse and innovative custom signage manufacturers.

Our services include comprehensive signage design through our award-winning design department, CSA approved manufacturing by trained and certified professionals, safe installations, and service & maintenance all based out of our 28,000 square foot Edmonton facility.

Yellow Contact Us Box

 

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