forum home > articles/features home
About 300 years ago, groups of religious refugees from the Rhine region of Germany migrated to south eastern Pennsylvania. These settlers, peasant farmers, came to take advantage of the religious freedom being offered by William Penn. They included Amish and Mennonites - people of "plain" dress - and Lutherans and other Reformed groups of more worldly dress called "fancy". Over time, these people became known as "Pennsylvania Dutch".
  Naturally, these settlers brought their old world customs and traditions to Pennsylvania. The "fancy" farmers decorated their distinctive bank barns with large, colorful geometric patterns. Mystical bird and floral designs graced birth and marriage certificates, family bibles and some furniture. These very colorful symbols, now called hex signs, had meanings or "legends". A design was selected based on both its aesthetics and meaning for the family.
Some of the more popular symbols included: sun wheel for warmth and fertility, hearts for love, birds (called distelfinks) for good luck and happiness, tulips for faith and stars for luck. The specific colors used also had meaning: red for your emotions, yellow for love of man and the sun, green for growing things, blue for protection, white for purity, and brown for Mother Earth.

Early hex signs were painstakingly hand painted directly on walls, doors, books, etc. Jacob Zook, an 11th generation PA Dutchman, had a boyhood fascination with hex symbols that developed into a "Love Affair" as he grew older. About 55 years ago, he began experimenting with hand silk screening of these symbols on round disks. Silk screening would make hex signs available at a modest cost for everyone's enjoyment. It would also allow visitors to take hex signs home for family and friends to enjoy.


With typical "Dutch" determination and perseverance, Jacob successfully pioneered the hand silk screening of hex signs. Jacob Zook signs are still made this way today. Most hex symbols are screened using four paint colors. Each color is applied as a separate step with about a day allowed for the paint to air dry before applying the next color. It's only after the fourth or final color is applied that the hex design becomes recognizable.


Jacob Zook original hex signs are now being enjoyed throughout the world. Their color, beauty, originality and affordability make them unusual gifts. Perhaps it's time for you to enjoy them in your home. They also make delightful gifts for family and friends. Many of Jacob Zook's designs can be ordered from our online catalog. Jacob Zook Hex Signs are also available at many fine shops throughout the USA.


© 2001 Zook's Family Crafts. Produced by Netexus Technologies.

Uploaded: 2/21/2004