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Friday, September 28, 2012

Local foundry has signs for all seasons

Most of us mark the important moments of our lives with photographs, or possibly a ring. Some people feel the need to commemorate an occasion or new phase in life with a tattoo. My daughter Anastasia has several. She is a sentimental girl. When she got married last summer she marked the weighty significance of the event in more than one way. She got a ring, a tattoo, and something else: a sign.




If you have a place of business that you need to label, you need a sign. A cast aluminum sign would be ideal, because it is classic and timeless, durable and weather-resistant. If you want the quaint ‘village look’ for your business, then a bronze or aluminum sign would be perfect for you. Smaller community businesses choose these types of signs for their old-town design and appeal. When all of the businesses in one neighbourhood go for the same type of sign, the result is quite effective. You feel as though you have stepped back in time, because the signs are designed to match the architectural era of the buildings. In the concrete and glass jungle of the city, a cast metal sign stands out as dignified, noble and sincere—the perfect marker for a lawyer’s office or spa.



In The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, words are illegal because they are believed to corrupt the mind. The signs in that imaginary futuristic society have returned to the signs of centuries past, where symbols relayed the information of what business was carried out at each address. But I’m getting off track here. Anastasia doesn’t have a business; her sign is personal.



I have been thinking for some time about getting a sign for the farm. I would like “The Fisher Farm” on a deep red oval with a grey barn and some sheep on it. One of these days I’ll get around to taking the next step and getting a sign made. Or maybe I’ll just leave this column lying around and my daughters will take a hint and go together on one for me. I think a metal sign would be much better than a wooden or plastic one. I want something that is going to be around long after I’m gone.



I also want a stone bench to mark the spot where I’m buried someday, instead of a headstone. On one half of the bench will say “The Farmer” and the other will say “The Accidental Farmwife” and our love story will be written there. I like that visitors will have a place to sit when they come to call. Did I just get distracted again? That seems to happen a lot lately. Back to my sign story.



I got my parents a sign for their house one Christmas years ago. It says “The Leesons” (note the lack of apostrophe, people!) and features a blue jay on it, because the birds are always around the house. The nice thing about these signs is that they last forever but you can take them with you if you change addresses. I even know of people who have brought their family name signs with them to mark their camping spots. What a great idea.



No matter what kind of sign you are thinking of, Karl and Linda Feige at the Alloy Foundry in Merrickville can help you out. I went with Anastasia to see what she was planning, and learned a bit about the oldest foundry in Canada still in operation. The foundry was originally built in 1840 on a tiny island in the Rideau River at Merrickville. The grandson of the village founder, Henry Merrick, redeveloped the local foundry business after his retirement from politics. The original building is marked with a historic plaque (created at the foundry!) designating it as one of Ontario’s historic sites.



Karl and Linda have been operating the business for the last 20 years. They use traditional methods to create each unique hand-crafted piece of cast-metal art. I love the opportunity to buy local, support small business in our community and own a personalized piece of history. Each piece comes with a certificate of authenticity along with an explanation of the casting process and a history of the foundry.



Anastasia and Andrew’s sign is a dark green oval that says “Wiggins” and features their beloved Labrador hunting dogs, Rupert and Beretta. It signifies the beginning of a new family and a new life.

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