Solas Neon

Emery Boardman, an Edinburgh-based neon artist, discusses his passion for crafting real glass neon signs and preserving the traditional art of glass-bending.

Solas Neon

Edition 3 Feature (September 2021)
We interview: Emery Boardman 
Location: Edinburgh, UK 
Photo Credit: ©Matt Beech Photography @mattbeechphoto/ ©Campbell Donaldson @campbelldonaldson 

What is it that you do and how do you do it? 

We’re primarily a real glass neon workshop, specialising in traditional glass neon and signage fabrication. Our client base is a mix of private and commercial clients, and we work on projects big and small, far and wide, anything that comes our way, really. 

The workshop is run by myself and my colleagues Sandy Faith, who is my colleague in the workshop, and Emily Clift, who works in the office. Sandy is of the old school. He’s about 55 now, so he’s been making glass neon for over 35 years. We’re quite an unusual pair. He wouldn’t mind me saying that he’s a bit older and rougher, whereas I’m a bit younger and fresher; I’m originally from Canada, and he’s from deepest, darkest Glasgow. We’re very different but we hit it off when we first met, and he’s taught me all I know. 

We came across each other by chance and at the time I was hell-bent on opening a neon workshop, which is very much not the greatest idea. It’s very difficult, and all the equipment that we use is old and all the methods that we use are passed down. Sandy was working for a local sign company and ended up getting fired, and I was in the process of leaving the signage company that I was working for. We ended up getting a workshop together and it just went from there. 

Did you have neon skills before you met Sandy?