I'm looking for free-standing letters
July 19, 2008 3:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for 3-dimensional letters that can stand freely and be photographed. I remember seeing some that were sold to aspiring film makers during the super-8 era for creating titles. Does anybody know anything about these, or where I can get something like them?

I cannot remember the exact era when these were available, or a manufacturer, but I do think they were an American product. I remember them being a condensed sans-serif, similar to Univers condensed, in white. (But my memory is hazy.) eBay searches are unsuccessful, and I'm having no luck with Google either. (A Blondie album entitled Plastic Letters is throwing me off.)

My goal is to take text-based photographs, with the type standing freely in different environments. Think Jenny Holtzer meets Andy Goldsworthy. Small, say 1" - 3" tall, is ideal. Most plastic type I have found is designed to stick to one surface or another - these need enough depth to stand freely.

I'm hoping someone knows the exact product I'm thinking of, but any helpful ideas are welcome. Thanks in advance.
posted by Cranialtorque to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can buy foam letters about 3" tall for kids to use in the bath tub. They are about 3/8th of an inch thick and will stand on there edges though you might need to modify some of the more rounded shapes.

If you can't find anything letters would be pretty easy to laser cut out of either plywood, acrylic or aluminum. Lots of CNC places spread around now or if you can't find anything locally you could try an online CNC service like EMachine.
posted by Mitheral at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2008

Anthropologie has some letters. The fabric-covered letters are free-standing, although a bit larger than you want.
posted by jschu at 4:12 PM on July 19, 2008

You could get metal letterpress type and reverse the image after the fact.
posted by bradbane at 4:21 PM on July 19, 2008

What about letters made from foam core? These come in different fonts and colors - including Univers condensed and white.
posted by Ostara at 4:48 PM on July 19, 2008

Craft shops usually sell wooden letters about 3" high and about 0.75" deep. They stand on their own.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 5:39 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

My Dad had a home movie kit that had the letters you speak of. They were white, sans serif letters. Maybe 1" tall, at most. I recall, though, that they weren't meant to stand on their own. They were meant to be used on a felt (or soft cloth) faced board. The letters stuck to the felt somehow.

How about those plastic refrigerator magnet letters you see everywhere? They would have enough depth to stand freely.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:43 PM on July 19, 2008

You could take fridge magnet letters from the dollar store and spraypaint them white, if you decide to go that route.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:00 PM on July 19, 2008

You can make your own pop-up 3-D words and messages.
posted by ellenaim at 7:15 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, all good ideas and very helpful. Yer da best, hivemind!
posted by Cranialtorque at 7:57 PM on July 19, 2008

My grandfather used to use a board like this to do his animated titles, back in the day.
posted by bink at 8:19 PM on July 19, 2008

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