Capturing the Essence of Captive Spirits...

When Ben Capdevielle announced plans to open Captive Spirits Distilling in Ballard, WA, Luke and I immediately sprang into action...Our Mission:  

"...We must lead thirsty patrons to delicious libations...."
Captive Spirits Logo

The distillery needed an amazing sign.  A sign that would communicate the spirit of artisan distilling.  We knew what to do...

With such a great logo already designed and ready to go, our process began with discussions about scale and positioning, functionality, and character. 

Requirements: A two-sided, hanging sign to draw foot traffic from both directions of the street.

With details finalized, we began our work....

Luke cuts the base for the sign

For a beefy look without excessive weight, we chose a base of 2" thick Wedi board- a foam core panel coated on both sides with a waterproof, fiberglass reinforced layer of resin.

The exposed foam edge will be treated with a brush applied waterproofing membrane before we skin the entire base in thinset.
Which to choose?

With so many colors and finishes available in glass mosaics we gathered samples to find the best product for an old-time feel.

We looked at metallic finishes, matte finishes and translucent glass before ultimately deciding that 'less is more' with this particular logo, selecting basic black and pure porcelain white glass mosaics.

The old-time characteristic we need is inherent to the process of hand mosaic work--no need to get fancy with the tiles as well. 
Amy carefully places each tile

We considered water jet cutting for the lettering of our mosaic sign.  This would result in a perfect and crisp representation of the logo graphic.

But since our goal is to communicate the handcrafted nature of the distilling process at Captive Spirits, we instead opted to hand scribe the letters, cutting in each individual tile with painstaking attention to detail.

Lettering is the most time-consuming, tedious, and ultimately the most rewarding part of our process.

There really is no machine-made substitute that can equally capture the richness in texture created by minute imperfections of handwork. 

Watch this time lapse video showing our process.  Each tile is hand cut and placed exactly where it needs to be....

And here is the result!

Another detail in our work is the patterning of each mosaic block.  The black background consists of concentric spirals in a dot-n-dash pattern.  'Cs' letters are broken into 3 sections of offset 1x1's.

By adding repetition and patterning, each area has a distinct texture making the image easier to read, and more interesting on the eyes. 

Up next:  We'll be starting on the second side today, and the following step is to create the framework that will hold the sign up. This wrought iron frame, designed and fabricated by Grizzly Iron in Phoenix, AZ,  will feature an organic iron juniper branch detail as an homage to the first spirit to be released by the distillery.

Luke and Amy Denny are artisan contractors in Phoenix AZ.  Alpentile specializes in glass tile installations in pretty much any application, from distillery signs to swimming pools.  We hope our work speaks for itself, and we're happy to talk shop with anyone who's as nerdy about tile as we are...

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