Category Archives: Tucson Sign Restoration

Gem & Bead Mall on 4th

Gem & Bead Mall's 40+ foot tall sign.

Gem & Bead Mall’s giant sign. Keep in mind, the smaller sign to the left is probably around 10 feet in height!

Native Tucsonans know all about the Gem Show; Its our annual two weeks of craziness when the vendors and buyers of gem and minerals come from all over the world to our little town. A National company called Gem & Bead Mall has decided to call Tucson one of their permanent homes and has opened a HUGE warehouse on South 4th Avenue. This company also has stores in San Diego and Las Vegas. Located at 2901 S. 4th Ave (4th and 39th), this 26,000 square foot facility holds over 5,200 items from all over the world.

Sign Magic did the sign for GBM, which, as you can see if the photo above, was no easy task considering the height! The existing pole sign reaches to heights over 45 feet and our crews needed our bucket truck plus a rented crane to complete the install! We cut new acrylic faces for the sign and applied vinyl to the faces once they were already installed in the sign. This job is a great example of Sign Magic’s dedication to providing Tucson businesses with their signage needs!

Heritage Award!

The Tucson - Pima County Historical Commission has awarded Sign Magic with this certificate.

The Tucson – Pima County Historical Commission has awarded Sparkle Cleaners with this certificate.

Sparkle Cleaners was recently honored with the Heritage Award for their part in restoring one of Tucson’s historic signs. Sign Magic partnered with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and Sparkle Cleaners to help bring some of Tucson’s past back to life. Drachman became a hot spot for restored historic signs back in March of 2012 when Pima Community College and the Historic Preservation Foundation joined forces to restore and reinstall a few of Tucson’s coolest old signs at Pima’s downtown campus. Being that Sparkle Cleaners has been here in Tucson for decades and is located on the Northwest corner of Drachman and Stone, right across the street from Pima’s downtown campus, it was only natural that their historic sign be included in this restoration project! The sign was originally erected back in 1955 when the Well and Wash first opened. This became a Sparkle Cleaners in 1961 and since then, Sparkle Cleaners have opened many other Tucson locations.

Why restore these old signs? Well, signs aren’t made how they used to be! In the old days, many of these signs were hand painted and they all used really cool neon lighting. Neon has to be hand blown and shaped to form certain letters or other formations, and this is no easy task. The difficulty in making and repairing these lights has made many people turn to more cost-effective solutions such as LED lighting. If you drive up Drachman and look at these signs you will see how compared to a lot of the signage used today, they are works of art.

The sign definitely needed a little TLC when it was first brought into our shop to begin restoration. There were places on the metal cabinet frame of the sign that were rusting and falling apart so this was the first problem to take care of. It received multiple layers of fresh paint, all new neon lighting, and new bulbs on the other lit parts of the sign because most of the lighting had long been out of use. Channel 4 News featured the sign and its story on the evening’s news, and The Arizona Daily Star had a photo and story written in the paper shortly after the sign went back up! Heath Bolin, president of Sparkle Cleaners, was awarded with this certificate and we here at Sign Magic are very proud to be a part of restoring Tucson’s past.

The sign when it was originally erected back in 1955

 1955, when the sign was originally erected.

The sign in more recent years, before restoration.

The sign in more recent years, before restoration.

This is the sign after the restoration process had been completed and it was reinstalled.

After restoration and re-installation.

A glimpse of how the sign looks at night, after restoration.

A glimpse of how the sign looks at night, after restoration.


Ramona Morales Apartments

  Another really cool, custom sign was just fabricated and installed, this time in Benson, AZ. The Ramona Morales Apartment complex, located at 550 W. Union St, Benson, AZ is the latest Sign Magic client to get their sign installed.  A lot of work went into this sign, and seeing it finished and installed proves that our staff really does know how to pull it off! This sign has a tiled face,which our guys put together themselves here in the shop. Then a rubber-like vinyl was placed on top of the tile so only the areas of the sign being treated by the sand-blaster were showing (the wording and logos on the sign). After we got the sign back from the sand-blasters, a few layers of black and teal paint were applied and then the protective rubber was peeled off. A frame was built around the sign, and painted teal to match the lettering on the face. The tile made this double-sided sign extremely heavy so in order to install it, we had to use a large crane. The custom signs, like this one, are always the most fun to work on, and always end up really standing out once they are finished. 

The finished, installed sign.

The finished, installed sign.

This rubber vinyl-like material protects the parts of the sign that won't be sand-blasted.

This rubber vinyl-like material protects the parts of the sign that won’t be sand-blasted.

The simple tile front to the face, before sand-blasting, paint or the frame was done.

The simple tile front to the face, before sand-blasting, paint or the frame was done.


Arizona Oncology Cancer Centers

Sign Magic just  installed another new sign! The sign, made for Arizona Oncology Cancer Centers, is located at 1845 W. Orange Grove. The pan channel letters are mounted on raceways and are lit with LED allumination. The Arizona logo was digitally printed on vinyl, then applied to lazer routed plexi.

Pan Channel lettering lit with LEDs

Historic Sign Restoration – Sparkle Cleaners

Sign Magic is participating in the restoration of one of Tucson’s historic signs. This sign is located at 16 W. Drachman at Sparkle Cleaners. It was erected in 1955, when the original dry cleaning service, The Well and Wash, first opened. Sparkle Cleaners took over in 1967, have been operating in this location & adding additional locations across the Tucson area ever since.  Drachman became a hot spot for historic signs in March 2012 when 4 of Tucson’s older signs were relocated and installed after being completely restored. The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and Pima Community College partnered to restore and install classic neon signs from Tucson’s past along the north edge of PCC’s Downtown Campus. The Sparkle Cleaners sign will be a great addition to this already amazing project and is still standing in its original location at the corner of Drachman and Stone, right across the street from PCC’s down town campus. Some pictures of The Wash and Well in 1955 were discovered by some great friends at the city’s Developmental Services office and are a pretty cool blast from the past! These pictures (displayed below) will aid us in the restoration of this sign. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project, which we hope to have completed and reinstalled sometime near the end of this summer.

The sign when the original dry cleaners opened in 1955


This is what the sign has looked like in recent years, before any of the restoration work had begun.