The Neon Museum Oral History Project
Ina Macias | Neon Bender

ina fullwidthIna was born in Zapotiltic, a small town outside of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She immigrated to the San Fernando Valley in California as a teenager. In her early twenties, knowing nothing about neon signs, Ina found work at the Neon Art company. Her first job was pumping gas into the glass tubes. Ina begged her boss to teach her how to bend glass. Despite his initial doubts because of Ina’s age, he agreed to let her train with a bender.

Ina learned her craft so well that the bender took her with him when he changed jobs. Later, Ina was offered an interview to work as a neon bender for the Everbrite Company.

Everbrite was located in Harborside, an hour away from where Ina lived. The trip was too far for what little gas Ina and her husband Juan could afford to put in their car. They remembered that their young son, Paul, had been given some silver dollars as a gift. Ina and Juan used the coins to buy gas to get to the interview.

Ina was the youngest bender at Everbrite and the only woman. The other benders complained to the shop supervisor that Ina did not have enough years of experience to be working there. The supervisor ordered the men to quit griping, telling them that Ina’s work spoke for itself.

In the 1980s, Ina and Juan started a sign business out of their garage. Soon after, they opened Paul’s Neon Signs, named for their son. When Paul was just twelve years old, he began riding his bike to the shop after school. Paul needed a stool to reach the bench when his mother started teaching him to bend neon.

Ina and Juan followed Paul to Las Vegas in 2007. Today, Ina continues to practice her craft for Paul’s Neon Signs, which specializes in affordable custom neon signs.


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