Artist in Neon Light

When Courtney de Walt isn’t sorting carpet samples or staring at tile inventories on a monitor, she is an artist, a fabricator—and a chemist!

Courtney makes neon signs.

Every design starts as a sketch.  Courtney tries various patterns and layouts until she lands on one that resonates.  Then production begins.  Working with a hand torch and ribbon burner, she heats the glass to a pliable, honey-like consistency, carefully bending it into the design. “Neon” may be the name-sake of the art but it is often not the only element found.  Most colors are produced by combining neon with another inert gas—argon or mercury. To maintain the glow the fabricator removes all other gases (oxygen, carbon dioxide, water) by a vacuum heating process known as “bombardment”.

Why does Courtney go through such a lengthy process?  “Neon is my favorite medium of contemporary art,” she says. “I love the bold nature.”  Not content to admire it from afar she was drawn to a deeper appreciation, much like a moth drawn to a flame (or a neon sign).  Once she began to make it herself, neon became much more than “OPEN” glowing in the corner of a shop window.

Courtney’s proudest moment is her “Nästa Avenyn” design. Inspired by Tracey Emin’s  handwritten pieces, this one uses Courtney’s own script for its pattern.  “Nästa Avenyn” or “Next Avenue” is a memory from her trip to Sweden.  It represents the excitement of anticipation when along your journey a new destination nears.  To Courtney it means “the adventure starts now,” capturing the transition into something new.