Dr. Jonathan Schneider always finds a way to celebrate life. Making “antiqued” signs began as hobby for him, an introduction to woodworking and a way to to spend his free time feeling purposeful and relaxed. But the imagination, craftsmanship, and folksy charm expressed in his work soon found a larger audience. It started with the signs he made for his garden eight years ago. The eye-catching signs attracted his neighbor’s’ attention, word got out, and soon Dr. Schneider was making signs for his friends and family as well.
Doctor of Medicine to antique sign painter might not seem like an upward career path, particularly for a doctor of Schneider’s experience. After a decorated 20-year career in the Navy that culminated in the rank of Captain, Dr. Schneider spent the next decade establishing school-based health centers and a mobile health outreach serving needy children and adolescents in the Orlando area. In 2003, he retired in order to maximize the time he could spend serving his community in a volunteer capacity. Since then, he has helped build the St. Vincent’s Mobile Health Outreach Ministry in Jacksonville.
In 2009, Dr. Schneider was diagnosed with stage four cancer. He has been outliving expectations ever since, surviving several life-threatening complications on top of the terminal disease. Providing healthcare for children in need gives him a mission, and with it, the strength to survive. “Volunteering is my passion,” he says. “It is as therapeutic as any of my chemotherapy medications. When you find your passion, it sings to your soul.”
Acting in service to the community has been a life’s calling for Dr. Schneider, so when he realized the joy people experienced from owning one of his signs, he kept up his work.Painting signs in the antique-style is a time honored craft.
In the days of digital printing, painting a sign by hand seems almost archaic. But no digitally produced sign shows the touch of the human hand. A printer is cold and heartless, while the human hand remains the most delicate and capable machine yet produced. Combine the human hand with the human brain, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for artistry and craft that is the pinnacle of evolutionary history.
Making something with your own hands is empowering for all ages. Working with salvage is a transformative experience that turns trash into treasure. The experience teaches confidence and self-reliance. It develops imagination and sparks creativity. Grasping an object of your own construction reinforces a sense of pride and self-worth.
There is real community value in the simple pleasure of hand-making crafts and seeing people enjoy them. Woodworking with reclaimed and salvaged lumber is a great way to lend some authentic Americana to a project.
Dr. Schneider’s antique-style signs are made from reclaimed wood acquired at Eco Relics, an architectural salvage company in Jacksonville, Florida. A small selection is of his work is currently available at Eco Relics. Dr. Schneider also creates custom signs, made to order. People interested in his work are encouraged to contact Dr. Schneider directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .