This week, I have the pleasure of interviewing glass-gilding legend Roderick Laine Treece, of Encinitas, California. In the world of gold-on-glass, Roderick is right at the top with craftsmen like Britain’s David A. Smith and Sydneysider Will Lynes.
Before discovering his talent for sign-making, Rod had considered becoming a professional photographer, and he has continued to pursue that passion as well as landscape painting alongside his career as a sign-man. Like Will Sears, Rod is of the opinion that fine art and commercial art – far from being polar opposites – can actually complement and inspire each other.
How did you first get into sign-making and gilding?
My father was into it when I was a kid so I just grew up around it. Later, when I got fired from every job I had, I figured I might as well paint signs. I got a job that needed ladders and a plank so my grandfather told me what to get and showed me how to use them. I did the job and still have the ladders. Shoot! Where did that plank go to?
How many of your pieces are designed by you versus being presented with a design to render into a sign?
About twenty percent of the signs I do now are someone else’s designs. Before I started Custom Glass Signs, I did a lot more of other people’s designs.
Is all of your work commissioned?
I never just make a sign without a commission, never have. I save that for my fine art.
What sort of fine art do you produce?
My fine art consists of photographs and paintings from the last thirty-five years. Starting with large format black and white images then moving on to Polaroid SX70 film. Then I moved on to pastel drawings of world travel experiences. Oil paintings of minimalist landscapes have been the latest in the last fifteen years, then reverse painting on glass with gold leaf.
Is there a project that you especially enjoyed?
Anything on glass – the Ralph Lauren work is always great. Their designer Dikayl Rimmasch is very cool to work with.
What’s in the shop right now?
Right now I have a complete redo of a cutout sign that went bad, a new commission for four glass signs for a Chicago mobster and two custom mirrors. It’s gonna be a busy month!
Are there any sign-makers who have inspired you in your own work?
Do you see a growing interest in handcrafted signs in recent years?
Yes there has been a big interest recently and I am happy for that BUT I am not so crazy about the lack of quality in some of the work I am seeing. I call it ‘The Craft Sign Movement’. It is like it doesn’t really matter that the shapes of the letters are bad or don’t read right. It’s all about that it’s ‘hand-painted’ . I think there will be a backlash from the public when they say, ‘I don’t want a hand painted sign because it’s doesn’t look right.’