“Repurposing Old Gas Station Signs into Quirky Lamps”

“Repurposing Old Gas Station Signs into Quirky Lamps”

Repurposing Old Gas Station Signs into Quirky Lamps

I’ve always had an appreciation for vintage gasoline and oil signs. Their retro-futuristic fonts and bright colors make them impossible not to notice. And yet in recent years, as gas stations rebrand and modernize, many of these iconic signs end up tossed in the trash when they could easily be repurposed into amazing decorative pieces.

Why Save Old Gas and Oil Signs?

These signs represent an important part of America’s automobile heritage and remind us of the early days of cross-country travel. Here’s why they are worth saving:

  • Nostalgia – For many, these signs spark happy memories of family road trips or childhood visits to the gas station. They remind us of simpler times.

  • Cool Factor – The retro styling and patina of old signs simply looks cool. The fonts and colors often reflect trends from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

  • Americana – Gas and oil signs represent American car culture and our love affair with the automobile. They are a unique part of American history.

  • Artistry – Many of these signs were beautifully and painstakingly hand-painted, making them impressive works of art.

  • Rarity – As stations rebrand and signs are discarded, original ones become increasingly rare. Once they are gone, they are gone forever.

How to Repurpose Gas and Oil Signs into Lamps

Turning an old gas or oil sign into a lamp is a fun DIY project. Here is a step-by-step guide:

1. Find a Sign

  • Check classified ads, flea markets, antique stores, salvage yards, etc.

  • Look for signs in good, intact condition with minimal rust and damage. Enamel signs hold up best.

  • Optimal size is 18″ to 24″ in diameter. Smaller signs can work too.

2. Clean and Restore the Sign

  • Gently clean with soap and water, avoiding abrasives.

  • Sand and spot treat any rusty areas, then spray with primer and enamel paint.

  • Touch up edges and letters with matching paint if needed.

3. Add Lamp Components

  • Attach a lamp kit to the backside, available at hardware stores.

  • For signs with a hole in the middle, run wiring through it and attach a pipe.

  • Affix sturdy lampshade over bulb. Vintage-style parchment or wire mesh shades work well.

4. Add Hanging Hardware

  • Screw in loop hangers or L-brackets on back for wall mounting.

  • For suspended signs, attach chains, cables, or rods to hang from the ceiling.

5. Display Your New Lamp

  • Hang or set lamp in desired spot and enjoy your custom creation!

  • For maximum impact, use bulbs that match the sign’s original colors.

Tips for Turning Signs into Stunning Lamps

Follow these tips to make unique, eye-catching lamps from old signs:

  • Incorporate colors and materials that complement the sign’s era and style.

  • Backlight neon signs to make them glow. Use clear plexiglass over the back if needed.

  • Go big by converting a large external sign into an imposing floor lamp.

  • Cluster matching mini signs into a cool multi-light fixture.

  • Use lamp parts like old gears or pulleys to add industrial flair.

  • Stack multiple smaller signs on a pole for a tiered effect.

  • Look for signs with quirky designs, like animals or cars, for added personality.

  • Pair ladylike vintage lampshades with rough, rugged signs for contrast.

The Benefits of Repurposed Gas and Oil Sign Lighting

Breathing new life into these pieces of Americana as lamps offers many benefits:

  • Saves signs from the landfill – Gives them a new purpose vs. trashing them.

  • Preserves history – Keeps automotive heritage alive in a new form.

  • Eco-friendly – Repurposing is better for the environment than new manufacture.

  • One-of-a-kind – Each sign lamp will be totally unique.

  • Conversation piece – Guests will ask about your cool new lighting!

  • Customizable – Make it your own with creative components and displays.

  • Budget-friendly – Less expensive than designer lighting options.

With some simple supplies and creativity, you can craft lighting that doubles as retro decoration. So next time you spot an old enamel gas sign in a pile of junk, grab it! With a little DIY magic, you can illuminate your space with a one-of-a-kind fixture.