Exactly the Same? Not Quite, but Here’s Why

“I want my sign exactly like the one in the picture.”


An Example of One of Our Signs

Just like this Sign.

This simple phrase can cause no end to frustration on both sides. Our pictures are a general representation of what our signs and ornaments look like, but every sign we make is unique. Even if the finish is the same, the signs will look different. Why? Well, there are quite a few reasons.

First, the weather will affect the signs. The ambient humidity varies here in Wisconsin from season to season and even from day to day. When it gets excessively humid, we try not to coat our signs because the process isn’t as fast. Conversely, when it gets extremely dry during the winter, we have to humidify the air.

Second, we hand make all of our signs. All of our artisans have slightly different styles and preferences. On top of that, patinas and colors are extremely hard to capture in a photograph. Metals shine with a brilliant luster, but capturing that shine is tricky. Too much light directly on the sign washes out the fine details and color. Too little light means that the sign looks much darker than it is. Too little background light can make the photograph take on a yellow tinge. Too much background light creates bloom off the sign.

Third, our lighting is different than your lighting. We try to take all of our pictures under the same lighting conditions, but that doesn’t necessarily give us the best possible picture. The pictures that we put online are selected from a large pool of photographs. In addition, what looks best on my computer screen may not look as good online. In fact, the picture that I’m looking at and the picture you’re looking at are different unless you’re using my computer. Each monitor has a slightly different display of colors and each computer will display those colors differently. Of course, because computers can’t show every color in the world, the photograph itself is necessarily different than the sign.

The lights around a picture affect how it looks. For example, go grab something plainly-colored and hold it up to different color backgrounds. You’ll find that it looks very different with different backgrounds. Compounding that, our lighting is potentially very dissimilar to your lighting. Maybe you have more natural light than we do.

For a quick example of how much an ornament or sign can change in look with small changes, check out these two pictures.

A Pistol Ornament PictureThe Same Pistol Ornament under a Different Light







This is the same ornament, with the same background in the same position. In fact, these two pictures were taken consecutively. But look at how different they look. In example 1, the background is much more red and the pistol ornament appears darker. In example 2, the sign is more evenly lit, but there isn’t as much variation across the ornament. That variation is the metallic luster, but some lighting won’t do it justice.

As much as we’d benefit being able to crank out idential signs time after time, we wouldn’t feel as proud of our work. Because all of our signs are unique, the challenges for each sign are different and that variation is fantastic. We think you’ll agree that a custom made sign should be unique to you.

All our signs and ornaments are made from American Materials and Labor, right here in Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

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