Pet signs

Usually when someone requests a house sign which is to incorporate a beloved pet, that means painting its picture onto one of our traditional house signs. However, when we received the order for the sign below, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see the picture of those particular pets, much less meet them personally. More than feeling nostalgia for some childhood playmate, I was reminded of some other more famous dogs. Pavlov’s dogs, to be precise.

In the 1890s, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, psychologist, and physician was investigating the gastric function of dogs. He used a technique of training or “conditioning” wherein he would ring a bell and then give the dogs some food. After a time the dogs would actually start salivating upon hearing the bell, without ever getting their food. Hopefully this sign produces the same results if you happen to visit this customer’s home.

Our dogs are not vegeterians, so please ring the bell.

(Out) House Sign

From time to time, a customer will ask for something different – for example, a house sign for inside the house. With a sign like this on your bathroom door, its almost like a jungle holiday every time you go to use the loo.

Bathroom House Sign Image

Of course, we do all sorts of signs – contact us to discuss an unusual or exciting sign idea – something just for you.

Its Another Tequila Sunrise…

Are you thinking of the movie, the song, or the drink? Its funny how some words or phrases just sound good. Tequila Sunrise is a 1988 Robert Towne movie starring Mel Gibson. It is a single by the Eagles (1973) and by Cypress Hill (1998). Most commonly, however it is a cocktail, and quite a nice one. The name comes, of course, from is appearance as the grenadine and orange settle fading from red at the bottom to clear tequila at the top.

According to the International Bartenders’ Association (IBA) it is a ‘long drink’ meaning it contains rather more mixer. The official recipe is as follows:

  • 4.5 cl (3 parts) Tequila
  • 9.0 cl (6 parts) Orange juice
  • 1.5 cl (1 part) Grenadine syrup

Clover Signs has also made its own (humble) contribution to the scene with the sign below:

Tequila Sunrise House Sign Image

Like it? Get one yourself!

Poppyfields House Sign

It is getting to be that time of year again. As Remembrance Day comes closer, poppies start appearing on nearly every suit and jacket.

Each year, I remember these lines from John McRae’s famous poem – maybe my favourite war poem of all time:

…To you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

The full text can be found at inflandersfields.be

Poppyfields House Sign Image

Here is quite a nice sign from our range of cream and black house signs.

Firmenschilder

Everybody knows that one of the most important things in any business (not to mention the rest of life) is networking. We used to call it working together. In any case, my wife and I spent a long weekend last week with signmaking acquaintances at Sannerz Designs near Frankfurt, Germany. They also work in HDU, the synthetic wood we use for our carved signs, but focus on business signage as the Germans haven’t yet caught on to the habit of naming their houses.

Although their business structure is quite different to reflect differences in the nature of the markets, we learned a lot from each other, as well as having a smashing weekend, and not neglecting to invest in a little German quality beer and chocolate.

Some of their work is absolutely breathtaking, like this crest – they made a set for this brewers various outlets.

Binding Crest House Sign Image

In the networking line, I recently stumbled upon a forum for HDU signmakers. Hopefully we can share our knowledge in this rapidly growing area of business.

As the Germans say: Sie und Ihr Geschäft sind einmalig

House Sign, Castle Sign

Every Englishman’s home is his castle…. The adage has been in use for at least four hundred years. According to a blog post on Quoteland, the earliest recorded use is found in a 1581 guide to early years education written by a man named Richard Mulcaster. As early as 1642, Thomas Fuller used it with a tone of disillusionment. In any case here’s a sign from someone whose house still is, at least in name, his castle:

Wilton Castle House Sign Image

This style of artwork – gilded outline drawing – is rapidly increasing in popularity.

Complex Mashup

“Mashup” is a word you often hear these days on the web. For those who don’t know, a Mashup is:

A mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool; (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia also mentions that a Mashup was originally a music term, for aggregating 2 or more songs or tracks into one.

Hence I would like to tell you about my favorite mashup. For anyone who hasn’t listened to or watched Les Misérables, you should. The characters all have various songs they sing during the performance, then just before half-time, they all sing the song “One Day More”.

You can listen to the song on the Les Mis website here. Turn up the volume and let it blast. It is a truly inspirational piece of music. Here are the lyrics so you can read along:

VALJEAN
One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
This never-ending road to Calvary;
These men who seem to know my crime
Will surely come a second time.
One day more!

MARIUS
I did not live until today.
How can I live when we are parted?

VALJEAN
One day more.

MARIUS & COSETTE
Tomorrow you’ll be worlds away
And yet with you, my world has started!

EPONINE
One more day all on my own.

MARIUS & COSETTE
Will we ever meet again?

EPONINE
One more day with him not caring.

MARIUS & COSETTE
I was born to be with you.

EPONINE
What a life I might have known.

MARIUS & COSETTE
And I swear I will be true!

EPONINE
But he never saw me there!

ENJOLRAS
One more day before the storm!

MARIUS
Do I follow where she goes?

ENJOLRAS
At the barricades of freedom.

MARIUS
Shall I join my brothers there?

ENJOLRAS
When our ranks begin to form

MARIUS
Do I stay; and do I dare?

ENJOLRAS
Will you take your place with me?

ALL
The time is now, the day is here

VALJEAN
One day more!

JAVERT
One more day to revolution,
We will nip it in the bud!
I will join these little schoolboys,
They will wet themselves with blood!

VALJEAN
One day more!

M. & MME. THENARDIER
Watch ’em run amuck,
Catch ’em as they fall,
Never know your luck
When there’s a free for all,
Here a little `dip’
There a little `touch’
Most of them are goners
So they won’t miss much!

Students (2 Groups)
1: One day to a new beginning

2: Raise the flag of freedom high!

1: Every man will be a king

2: Every man will be a king

1: There’s a new world for the winning

2: There’s a new world to be won

ALL
Do you hear the people sing?

MARIUS
My place is here, I fight with you!

VALJEAN
One day more!

MARIUS & COSETTE
I did not live until today.

EPONINE
One more day all on my own!

MARIUS & COSETTE
How can I live when we are parted?

JAVERT(overlapping)
I will join these people’s heros
I will follow where they go
I will learn their little Secrets,
I will know the things they know.

VALJEAN
One day more!

MARIUS & COSETTE
Tomorrow you’ll be worlds away

EPONINE
What a life I might have known!

MARIUS & COSETTE
And yet with you my world has started

JAVERT(overlapping)
One more day to revolution
We will nip it in the bud
We’ll be ready for these

Schoolboys

THENARDIERS(overlapping)
Watch ’em run amok
Catch ’em as they fall
Never know your luck
When there’s a free-for-all!

VALJEAN
Tomorrow we’ll be far away,
Tomorrow is the judgement day

ALL
Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One day more!

Anyway, some mashups are great, some are just useless, but I would vote this as the best mashup of all time.

Where do House Names Come From?

After much research, we have put together a article on house names and their history. You can read the article here: The History of House Names.

House naming is an interesting subject, and I am sure we will add to the article at a later date. Until then, here is a wonderful quote from A.A Milne:

THE Piglet lived in a very grand house in the middle of a beech-tree, and the beech-tree was in the middle of the forest, and the Piglet lived in the middle of the house. Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had: “TRESPASSERS W” on it. When Christopher Robin asked the Piglet what it meant, he said it was his grandfather’s name, and had been in the family for a long time. Christopher Robin said you couldn’t be called Trespassers W, and Piglet said yes, you could, because his grandfather was, and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William. And his grandfather had had two names in case he lost one—Trespassers after an uncle, and William after Trespassers.

“I’ve got two names,” said Christopher Robin carelessly.

“Well, there you are, that proves it,” said Piglet.

Big Company Mistakes

Why is it we get customers so happy that we respond to their email within minutes? Why are people in the UK so shocked when they receive good customer service?

As companies in the UK get larger, it seems they sacrifice good customer service to save money. Here is my list of the 5 worst mistakes a company can make:

Taking Too Long to Respond

Nobody likes to wait – so why do some companies promise a response within 72 hours? Who can afford to wait that long for an answer? We try to respond within 1 hour, and start apologizing when it takes more than 4. Also, holding a customer in a phone queue for over 20 minutes while telling them “you call is important to us” is not the way to convince people to do business with you.

Not Knowing Anything about Their Products

It is an annoying trait that companies will employ sales and technical staff who don’t know anything about the product they are advising on. When will companies realise that if all the “technical department” can do is to read off their website, they are no use to someone with a problem.

Not Apologizing

Apologizing for mistakes is a key point of customer service which many companies don’t seem to understand. Sure, lots of companies will say “I apologize about this, but there is nothing I can do” but that is not good enough. An apology should be sincere and if the mistake is bad, accompanied by something to make up for it, like some money back, a box of chocolates etc. Companies have no idea how much difference a £4.50 box of chocolates can make to an angry customer, especially if it has a hand written card with it.

Apologizing for the customers mistake is also a good practice. I often get people saying “I couldn’t see the information on your website” when I happen to know it’s there. I could respond “well, it’s there in bright red pulsating text” or I could say “I’m sorry you found our website hard to use, let me tell you the information you are need”.

Not Listening to Your Problem

Many customer service staff don’t listen to your problem, hence are unable to help. For instance, I phoned a large but unnamed Telecoms company because I was having problems sending email to anyone who had a email address from them. They first wouldn’t deal with me until I had told them all about my broadband setup. I tried to convince them that it had nothing to do with my broadband, but rather the technology on their servers. They asked me to reboot my router then call back if I still had problems. No matter what I said, they wouldn’t listen. Finally, after 2 hours of discussion, I got through to somebody in technical who could help.

Not Making the Customer Special

Everyone likes to be treated as if they are a special – which is why it’s annoying when you ring somewhere and their first words are “your account number please”. It feels like you are talking to a computer. Not doing that bit extra for a customer because their policy doesn’t allow it is a huge difference between big and small companies today. When you are angry at a company, normally because they have made the above mistakes, and the person who answers the phone says: “policy doesn’t allow us to transfer calls to the manager, so you can’t speak to him” it pushes you off the edge and you never deal with them again.

Hopefully consumers in the UK will start demanding more from companies, instead of letting them practice terrible customer service. Hopefully some companies will read this post and take notice.