Hex Sign History
Dutch Hex Signs have a rich history that dates back approxemately 300 years. The folk art style that inspired the modern day hex sign played a important part in the culture and traditions of the German settlers that created their new home in the region that is now Pennsylvania. These peasant farmers came here seeking the religious freedom they where denied in their home countries. They were comprised of many groups including Mennonites, Lutherans, and Amish to name a few.
Folk art was a key part of their cultures. Originally geometric style designs were found in and around their farmhouses. It was not uncommon to find hand painted designs on doors, walls, books and other household items. After the 1830’s as paint became more affordable the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers began expressing themselves on the sides of their barns by adding large colorful hex designs to the sides. The elements that make up the designs all had special meanings form the individual colors and star patterns to the birds or “Distelfinks”. These designs where believed to add blessings and good fortune to the home and family such as, fertility, luck, love, good health and many other well wishes.
In the 1940’s a direct desendant of the original German settlers named Jacob Zook helped bring about the hex sign in its mountable form. His fascination with PA Dutch folk art as a youth lead him to develop the process of creating in expensive wooden signs with screen printed designs. Each layer is applied and allowed to dry before the next is applies. The final design is only revealed when the fourth and final color is applied. This is how most hex signs are still created today. This method allowed visitors to Lancaster County PA area to take the hex designs home with them in the form of a sign. It was his desire to share his passion for this unique art form with everyone. His creations where sold at local gift shops and developed quite a following.
People from all over the world now enjoy Dutch Hex Signs. They are often mounted outside on their homes, sheds, fences and garages. Inside you will often find them above doorways, in workshops, sunrooms and many other locations.