Out Damn Gredients

by Joel Habush

NewStopPlaque.1 STOP and think about what you are eating.

 

I’ve noticed over the past few years that the importance of what’s in a product has taken a back seat to what’s not in a product—the outgredients triumph the ingredients in the buyer’s decisions.

It hit me hard in the grocery store yesterday. I went to get a bottle filled with water that had been purified beyond belief by reverse osmosis, infra red rays, charcoal filtration, and love, sweet love; there was a new label on the bottle, stating that it, the bottle itself, not the water, was BPA-Free. I wish it had just stated, “Free”— do you know what bottled water costs nowadays?

But this label proudly announced that the purchaser would be safe from the dangers of bisphenol-a, something I hadn’t even been aware of, much less been able to pronounce.

I first realized this phenomenon some years back when many laundry detergents started bragging about the fact that they did not contain chlorine bleach. Then they upped the ante with “phosphate-free.”

I think it started when learned that our paint should be lead free, and our insulation asbestos free.

Then when we learned what we had long suspected, that sugar wasn’t always the best thing for everybody, “sugar free” products starting jostling each other for space on the supermarket shelves.

Unforeseen, but inevitably, sweeteners came along, proclaiming proudly they did not contain whichever sugar alternative had most recently fallen into popular disfavor…only to be doomed eventfully to similar fates.

Certain mouthwashes proclaim they’re alcohol-free. If you ask, me, if you’re ordering the latest chi chi fashionable designer cocktail, it would be helpful to be able to identify one that will taste like it’s mouthwash-free.

Sodium free foods, at first of interest only to those on cardiac diets, became a selling point to all consumers, even those who did not need to drastically reduce their salt intake.

“Fat free.” That’s a huge seller now. However if you look closely at the ingredients listing on the label, things like sodium and sugar might increase their percentages to make up for the taste loss inherent in fat free products.

Oh, and then there’s cholesterol free. That’s good. But nobody can tell me which is better—cholesterol-free or fat free, and which one impacts on the other.

How Low Can You Go
When they couldn’t do the free part, they went to “low,” as in low fat, low sugar, low sodium. We love compromises, thinking that 2% Milk, while not entirely fat free, is at least better for one than fat, fatty fat, milk.

Even some tobacco companies trumpeted that their cigarettes were low tar, blithely ignoring the fact that they still had nicotine and all the carcinogens.

Lately, anti-biotics-free and hormone-free chicken, pork, and beef have become the fastest growing segment of the meat market, while pesticide-free produce is certainly more appealing to the average customer than the oh-so-trendy, “organic.”

Buying local supposedly helps consumers be assured that the missing toxins are really missing.

And all this is just the beginning

Let’s take a peek at what’s on the horizon:

SCENE—CORPORATE OFFICE—SOMEWHERE IN CORPORATE AMERICA

CEO: Well, Farnswold, I understand you marketing fellows, oh, sorry Betsy, “you marketing folks” have come up with something that will kick a little life into many of our stagnant products.

FARNSWORTH: Yessir, Betsy show him the new label for our cookies.

BETSY: TA DA!

CEO: Ta da?

BETSY: Trust me, sir, it deserves it. (TAKES COVERING OFF A PACKAGE OF THE COMPANY’S COOKIES, PUSHING A BUTTON TO ACTIVATE A SPOTLIGHT ON THE PROMINENT LABEL)

CEO: What does that say?—“Arsenic Free?” What are you, nuts? Why would our cookies contain arsenic?

FARNSWOLD: That’s just it, sir. They don’t. And we’re telling the people that. It will kick our sales through the roof.

CEO: Well, the other baking companies’ cookies don’t contain arsenic either.

FARNSWOLD: We’re not saying they do. But the average consumer will not see anything about that on the other cookie packages. If they’re concerned, let those guys put that on their labels. By the time they do, we will have cornered the market.

CEO: Brilliant. (HANDSHAKES—TO BE FOLLOWED BY BONUSES ALL AROUND)

There you have it. If you have any questions, call me. Feel free.
But I really must leave now. There’s a big sale down the street on tires for my smart car. And they’re gluten free.

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By Joel Habush

About Atlas Signs—They’re free everything, except for the price.

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Trick or Treat?

 

Halloween Ornament Spooky!

The kids are back in school and winter is just around the corner. That means it’s just about time to start thinking about Halloween!

What’s somewhat interesting about Halloween is that it only developed into its modern form, complete with trick-or-treating and costumes in the late 1930’s. On the other hand, the tradition of pumpkin carving is based on the tradition of turnip carving, which comes from Ireland and England. The original idea was the carving a turnip would maintain the souls trapped in purgatory.

But the most prominent feature of Halloween is the scare factor. Spooky attractions and decorations are sprinkled throughout cities and towns, with splashes of humor as well. If you’re looking for an ornament that will last through the years, check out our signs, clocks, and ornaments. At our Etsy Shop, we have skull ornaments in the Ready to Ship section. We also have a Spooky Skull clock, but we can also do a custom sign. Just let us know what you want, and we’ll get it to you within two weeks plus shipping.

As always, all of our signs, plaques, clocks, and ornaments are made here in Lake Mills, Wisconsin from American Materials and Labor.

 

 

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How to Patina, Part I

by AtlasSigns

Bronze Gate House Sign with Verdi Patina Bronze Gate House Sign with Verdi Patina

What is Patina?
Commonly pronounced in the US as pa tee’ne, or puh tee’nuh”.

Most broadly defined as the observed and physical change in a surface over time caused by exposure to oxygen or other environmental elements and compounds.

Bronze Horse at Hilton Resort, Hawaii Hilton Resort, Hawaii

On metal, it is the film of corrosion on the surface caused primarily by the reaction of the metal with oxygen. To put it in perspective, think of an old penny, a rusty pipe, or the Statue of Liberty. However, there is more to it; The natural rate of change depends upon the aggressiveness of the environment. Since the level of pollutants, rainfall, and acidity vary locally, the rate, chemical make-up, and therefore the color and depth of the patina will also vary. Rates of patina build-up and color will change year-to-year, and even seasonally.

Paris Door Knob Paris Door Knob

Patina is not confined to metal. It can also refer to the change over time in wood or the long-term change in furniture or other items, caused not only by oxidation, but by repeated cleaning, rubbing and polishing. To summarize, patina is the rich and often lustrous natural toning once only available by waiting months, decades, or eons. Because of the time factor, surfaces with a fine patina often command a premium price.

Bronze Statue, London Bronze Statue, London

At Metal Facades, copper, bronze and brass are among our most popular coatings. These have some similarities in the way they naturally patina. Although other elements can be included in the mix, bronze and brass are primarily alloys of  copper along with tin and zinc, respectively. The natural coating that develops on these copper-based metals can range from brown to green, all in a multitude of shades and hues, depending on time and environment. The desirable green shades (formations of copper carbonate) used to be called Verdigris, but in modern times are usually shortened to Verde or Verdi. (We use Verdi).

Bronze Statue, Florence Italy Bronze Statue, Florence Italy

The layer of patina, interestingly, can protect against continuing corrosion and is encouraged to provide a protective barrier against further deterioration. However, this is less likely to be the case in larger cities or areas with higher levels of natural or industrial pollution. In these cases, the green and blue colors are mainly from copper sulfides and are not protective, allowing corrosion to wreck the havoc of deterioration beneath the surface. Areas of harmful or beneficial patina can flake-off allowing the patina process begins anew on that area. This phenomenon, can be responsible (along with pigeon poop) for some of the wilder examples of patinas shown.

While we have been reviewing copper and copper alloys, common rust in all its splendid coloring, is a patina effect on iron and iron alloys such a steel. Rust is iron oxide formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or atmospheric water vapor.  We think rust is beautiful!!

Kitchen Backsplash, Iron with Rust Patina Kitchen Backsplash, Iron with Rust Patina Golden Gate Bridge Column Plaque Golden Gate Bridge Column Plaque Close-up of Golden Gate Bridge Plaque Close-up of Golden Gate Bridge Plaque Great Natural Patina on Golden Gate Bridge Great Natural Patina

Unknown to many, even aluminum forms a surface oxidation (patina) of aluminum oxide almost immediately. It often goes unnoticed because it is, most commonly, in a whitish crystalline form. Like the patina on copper and copper alloys, the surface oxidation on aluminum protects the metal against further deterioration.

Wide variations in patina are normal whether naturally developed or artist applied. Several items from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge are shown because we think it is very interesting that even items from the same era and environment can differ so greatly. Also contrast the Golden Gate examples, which are only 70 years old with some the centuries old European pieces.

Go to Part II: How We Do It

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Amy’s Sign Looks Fabulous!

by AtlasSigns

We love it when our customers love their signs, and we also love it when they share their enthusiasm with us! Here’s what Amy had to say about her new sign: “I got the sign today- it looks fabulous – and the craftsmanship is perfect. Put in back in the mail today to get to […]

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Huge Sign For The Great Sioux Reservation

by AtlasSigns

Making this huge sign was a lot of work, but the end result was so worth it! We also loved adding the color to make the sign POP! Love This? Go Tell it on a Mountain!ShareTweet

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