Antique Safe Restoration

DSC00850 (415x800)Mike found me through a Google search for Antique Safe Restoration. It was nice to know that my website was working.

I went to Mike’s house to look at the antique safe and it was in pretty bad shape, but the old style lettering and the illustration were intact. I took several pictures and uploaded them to my computer. After importing them into Corel Draw I was able to vectorize the letters and make them workable.

I posted on Fellow Letterheads asking for help, as it had been awhile since I’d done a job like this. The response was great and inspired me to move forward.

It took several months before hearing from Mike. He had his antique safe powder coated and the hardware chrome plated as part of the antique safe restoration. He was adamant about restoring the antique lettering and illustration as it was on the original. The safe door was only 13 inches wide and the copy, ‘GUARANTEED WATER PROOF’ Only 3/8” tall.

I placed the door on a desk top artist easel and had to come up with a ‘jig’ to help support the weight. Once I installed it, the easel worked fine.

The illustration was an old school landscape painting. I first taped off the area and applied a coat of varnish. I had heard different stories about powder coated surfaces, but the varnish worked as a base. I then applied a coat of gesso and did the painting with acrylics and a small pointed brush. When the art was finished I clear coated it with an acrylic clear.

The pinstripping and all the drop shades are enamel. The gold leaf was very tricky and I had to use a screen because the logo and lettering were so small. The job had it’s challenges but it turned out fine and Mike was very happy with the restoration and glad to have his antique safe returned.

Vehicle Graphics RJ Electric

These vehicle graphics were done for RJ ElectricVehicle graphics is a term in today’s parlance that describes what we as sign painters used to refer to as truck lettering. This would also include pin stripping and any air brushed murals or illustration work done on vehicles. I would also include motorcycles in this category of work.

RJ Electric has been in Orange since 1983. Roger Rohm contacted me to letter one of their trucks back in the 1980’s after the sign painter they had been using retired. I had my shop in Anaheim at the time. I’ve hand lettered all of their trucks since then.
Recently Roger decided to change the logo. All of his older trucks are brown with primrose yellow and dark brown copy.

He called me to hand letter the new trucks. I offered to do part of the copy with vinyl but he likes the hand lettered look. I also did their new outside identification signs. This truck has the new paint job and new logo. As time and money permits, the new logo will be put on his fleet of vehicles.

Skinner Residence Custom Wood Sign

This is a hand painted and gold leafed sandblasted redwood sign for Casa de Skinner
I believe sand blasted redwood signs started making a showing in the early 1970’s. Walter Methner was doing sand blasted signs down in the beach area of Orange County. There were also a lot of redwood signs being done with a router, but the router limited the design and the fonts that could be used.

Redwood was the wood of choice for custom wood signs because it would sand blast easily, accepted paint really well and could be glued up to make larger panels if necessary,and it was light weight. Another plus for these signs was that they could be gold leafed. 2x blanks were the common thickness.

I did my first sandblasted sign in 1972 when a friend of mine, Gary Metcalf, wanted to do one. He had seen a sandblasted wood sign and asked if I would like to try making one. We also discovered that sand blasted signs were starting to appear in Signs of the Times sign magazine especially from a group of guys in Denver called the Letterheads.

At that time we layered masking tape to act as a resist against the sandblasting and we cut the stencil by hand with the xacto knife. A labor intensive job, but it worked and we were ‘wowed’.

When my father passed in 1974 I wanted to do his headstone and learned from a guy at Whittier Monument Co., Al Privetera, about 3M 507 tape, or ‘buttercut’ as we learned to call it. Buttercut allowed intricate designs to be cut on the stencil, kind of like linoleum block cutting, using the xacto knife. The wood surface had to be sealed really good so the adhesive on the buttercut wouldn’t remove any of the wood surface.

I always hand cut my stencils. This sign was done in the pre-computer days and wielding an xacto knife was almost as good as weilding a brush. I did this sign for my sister who moved to Texas back in the 1990’s

Frontier Steak House Sketch

A hand draw pen and ink sketchEvery sketch was done by hand using the pencil or pen and markers in the days before computer drawing programs.

This building is one of the oldest in the Rancho Cucamonga area. It was home to one of the first wineries in Cucamonga and owned by Tiburcio Tapia, a local businessman. A lot of history is associated with this building.

Laura Baker, from Frontier Restaurants called me and asked if I had a portfolio that I could show her and I asked her to come down to the shop to see the work I had displayed. After she walked in she said that I was the one they were looking for.

This restaurant was part of the Knowlwood and Russell Restaurant chain and the first of their restaurants in the Inland Empire, Rancho Cucamonga to be exact.

Mike Rhodes gave me the opportunity to do the sign design and sign painting for the interior and exterior of this building. There were a lot of interior directional signs and wall murals. There were exterior signs that had to be done and most of them were hand lettered, including an old wine barrel that was out front. I also designed the table mats for print and the menus. It was great to be involved in the research and production of the signs for this establishment.

Sketch of a 1940s Jukebox

A hand drawn sketch for the client’s approvalI always did a scale sketch for any job that came up back then. I’d do a pencil sketch first, then a colored sketch once the deposit was received.

A good friend of mine, Bob Babcock, owner of RWB Party Props in Orange, had me doing prop painting and sign painting for him back in the 1980’s. Bob is still doing business in Orange and over the years I’ve done a number of signs and props for him.

He needed a jukebox prop and asked if I could do a rough drawing first.

This is where my background in Architectural Drafting came into play. I was able to draw the final artwork to scale after getting the rough sketch approved. At the time even a 1940’s Juke Box was considered an old sign and required research and pictures of what they looked like.

I thought he wanted a perspective image so that’s how I did the sketch. As it turned out he wanted the prop without perspective, but I always liked this sketch and kept it.