There are plenty of things we all love about neon signs, but few people are aware of how they work. There’s a whole lot more that goes into the making of a neon sign than just the glass itself, from how the electrodes on each end are filled with neon or argon gas to how sign makers use blowtorches to heat the glass tubes, bending them and sealing them together in colorful designs. To keep things feeling fun and informative, we brushed up on our facts — and are sharing the best five below.
1. Neon is French
Georges Claude, a French engineer, invented neon lighting around 1902. He owned an air liquefaction company and was the first person to effectively pass an electrical current through neon gas in a sealed tube, causing a chain reaction of reddish-orange light to appear. With some tweaks and further scientific advancements, neon discharge tubes were officially for sale to the general public and the rest is history as they say.
2. Neon Signs are 100% Handmade
For the most part, everything you see on a neon sign is handmade. In fact, it requires a great deal of precision, experience and eye–hand coordination in order to make the glass tubes bend according to the design. Otherwise, the glass itself is prone to crack and break. While neon signs differ in color and shape, the process of creating them has ultimately remained the same since its inception.
3. Neon Light Can Cut Through Fog
Fog should generally be avoided when possible, but what about when you find yourself at the airport? You may think neon signs are strictly for advertising or fun, but they also function well in fog. In fact, neon lights are oftentimes used in airports to keep aircraft safe and questionable areas well lit. The hope is that you won’t ever need it to light your way, but the reality is that neon is awesome to have just in case you find yourself thousands of feet up in the air.
4. Neon Signs are Sculpted
Every neon sign starts out as a straight line. However, through the magic of intense heat and a box full of four-foot neon tubes - the process comes to life. Armed with a series of methodical motions and an impeccable sense of timing, the neon sign maker bends each section of glass tubing to the proper specification. Since neon sign making is all about experimentation, try your hand at making something unique and special.
5. Neon Signs are Bright
Most neon signs are easily recognizable at night and even during the daytime. That's because of an energetic transfer of energy which takes place during the time of production. Similar to a game of bowling, electrical currents hit the inert gas atoms with electrons knocking the atoms out of their orbits. The electrons then collide with other free electrons sending them back toward the atoms. As the electrons begin to get absorbed into the atom, energy is given off in the form of light!
Did you discover the perfect neon sign this weekend? Show us your style by tagging us on your next Insta-post + using hashtag #mondoneon!