Saturday, 24 May 2014

Laurel & Hardy sign No. 2

For those of you who read my blog regularly you will remember back in February this year I did a bit of sign writing for my mate Malcolm Luckie. Malcolm lives in Germany and he has a Laurel & Hardy memorabilia collection, he asked if I could make a couple of signs for his collection, of course I said I would. The first sign was his idea, an 8 foot long sign with the Laurel & Hardy names on it with a couple of bowler hats. (If you missed the blog entry about the first sign, check out my blog archive on the left of this page from February).
Malcolm sent me a picture for the second sign that he wanted me to reproduce. It was a lot smaller than the first and had some colour in it, unfortunately the picture Malcolm sent me wasn't very big or very clear so I couldn't see too much detail or work out the proportions very well. I didn't want to try and produce an exact copy due to copyrights so this was going to be my own interpretation of that sign. 

This is the photo of the sign Malcolm sent me,
It's hard to see any real detail and it's difficult
to work out any proportions, so I'll just have
improvise and hopefully it'll turn out OK.

I had some 6mm ply left over from the first
sign, so I decided the sign was going to be
43" long x 23" high. The first job was to cut the
board to size.

Once the board was cut, it was sanded down
prior to the priming. After 2 coats of primer
with plenty of sanding down in-between coats
the board was ready for the undercoat.
(the bolster on the board was to stop the wind
blowing the board off the workmate before it
had dried)

After the board had dried, I applied a brilliant
white coat of undercoat. However once this had
dried it showed all the imperfections still in the

You can see how the undercoat highlights all
the imperfections. Time to get the filler out
and make good all those imperfections.

Once the filler had dried overnight, the board
was sanded down yet again before another
coat of undercoat.

Once the undercoat had dried, time to give the
board a coat of gloss. Looking at the photo
Malcolm sent me the background colour was
an off white, so I mixed up a 'one off' colour
using white enamel, with a drizzle of yellow,
and a few drops of red. The enamel should
not only be hard wearing but also help the
colour stay vibrant for longer.

Once the base coat was painted I left it to dry
for 2 days. In the mean time I started to think
about the wording and the positioning. Here
you can see my scribble on what goes where.

After the enamel had completely dried the
first job was to mark out the border. Again
looking at the photo Malcolm sent me, it
dawned on me that there were no straight lines
anywhere in the sign. The quickest and easiest
way to draw a straight line is to hold the pencil
between your fingers, then rest your little finger
and ring finger on the edge of the board and
simply run your hand down the edge of the board.
After a little practice you will get a nice straight

Once the border was drawn, it's time to apply
the red enamel.

Here the border has had one coat of red, but it
will need a second coat.

Second coat of red enamel on the border,
what a difference a second coat makes.

The sign is starting to take shape, and looks
bright and colourful.

Again I left the sign for 2 days to ensure the
enamel was completely dry. Now it's time to
start drawing out letters for the wording with
constant referral to my scribbled notes.

The size and spacing of the lettering is so
important. I was taught to sign write many
years ago, and this is how. The gap on 'X'
should be the same distance for 'Y' and 'Z'.
You will notice I have made the lettering
uneven so the letters will be at differing

It is actually quite hard to use a pencil on
enamel paint, maybe I should have used my
Stabilo pencil that will write on any surface.

I like to get the whole design laid out on the
board before I start painting. Other sign
writers paint as they go.

The different fonts on the photo Malcolm sent
me I didn't recognise, so it was a good time to
practise my free hand writing. I like this sort
of work as it lets me express my ideas.

The wording was exactly as the photo, although
the font's were different, making this as the
other sign is, totally unique.

Time to start painting. You can see the different
height and width of the main letters. This was
actually harder to create than wording of all
the same size and width.

The top line complete. The different height and
widths of the lettering really stands out now.

I did the same type of lettering for the second

The third line was more traditional lettering, all
being the same size and width.

The quotation at the bottom of the sign was fun
to paint, and was purposely made to look like it
was free hand.

The finished sign with the oak leaves and acorn
design. I decided not to add more acorn designs
as per the original as I thought it may look a little
bit to 'Christmassy' with the colour choices.

Both Laurel & Hardy signs finished for the
memorabilia collection in Germany.

So that was my commission for the Laurel
& Hardy signs. They took a lot of time and
thought but overall I have enjoyed producing
these signs.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Chiltern Hills Classic Car Rally, part 2/2

The second (and final) part of my write up on the Chiltern Hills Classic Car Rally continues in the show and shine field where the classic cars were on display.

This lovely looking 1963 Chevrolet pick up
truck in beautiful gloss black caught my eye,
I do have thing about American pick ups.

The interior looked pretty much as Chevrolet
designed it 51 years ago... apart from the
striped blanket on the bench seat which is
probably hiding years of wear.

This truck has a lovely clean and straight body
which only enhances the black paint.

A  MK1 Ford Cortina in Gulf Racing colours
looked purposeful with it's wide wheels and
 roll cage.

This super bright orange 1971 mini stood out
in the sunshine. A very clean and tidy car with
the added accessory of a roll cage.

Looking under the open bonnet I noticed the
reason for the roll cage, this beauty had a
'Harris Motorsport' engine. The infamous Harris
brothers of south London are famous for building
very fast Mini engines.

This 1970 Volvo Amazon was absolutely
stunning, I'm sure I'm right in saying this
 is an original Volvo colour for the year.

This really was immaculate from every angle,
Those chrome bumpers looked brand new.

All this walking about looking at the show
vehicles in the spring sunshine makes you
thirsty... time to make a cup of tea in my bus.

Whilst the kettle was boiling I noticed a VW
Razor Edge that had parked up in the row
behind me. I do like these and this one looked
so nice in silver.

Looking through the open sunroof, the classic
interior looks timeless and still as nice today
as it was when this was produced way back in

The Razor Edge really does have beautiful
body lines.

The variety of classic cars at the show was
amazing, here lined up together are, a Ford
Mustang, a Beetle and a Lotus Elan.

I was drawn towards this gorgeous 1966
Beetle finished in white. There really isn't
anything better than a original looking early

This Beetle was in pristine condition and some
one has obviously spent a lot of time and money
getting it to this standard, but it was worth all
the effort.

Here's a car that brings back happy memories
for me, as I had one many years ago. It's a
1969 MK2 Ford Cortina 1600e. The only thing
I can see that isn't original is the chrome

The 1600e differed from the standard 1600
by having twin spotlights at the front, a
wooden dash board with wooden door caps
and rear fog lights. The engine also had a
bit more grunt.

If I remember correctly my 1600e was also
gold, albeit a lighter shade of gold and mine
didn't have a vinyl roof, but i did have the
original 'Ford Rostyle' wheels.

Seeing a tractor at a classic car show is
nothing unusual, but this one caught my eye
and got me wondering.

Now I have heard of flat pack furniture you
assemble yourself at home but how about
flat pack tractor.! Can you imagine the
assembly instructions for this...!

Like the tractor, seeing an old steam engine
is part and parcel for a classic car meet and
this one looked amazing.

Mark Chapman, a member of the Wolfsburg
Weed Huggers VW Club attended the show
with his family in his very distinctive purple
1972 Beetle.

Another VW of 1972 vintage was this early
bay in black over red. This was a lovely
looking bus, I especially liked that 3 bow
roof rack.

More American Muscle cars on display and
this 1956 Chevrolet 2 door coupe looked
gorgeous in red and white with American
racing wheels and white wall tyres.

Interior of the '56 was pure nostalgia. I love
the bench seat and column change.

Whilst walking round the show this Fiat 500
drove past, not only a convertible but it was also
minus the doors.

To finish off my blog review, here we have a
super looking 1957 Chevrolet 2 door coupe
in silver and white. This '57 was totally

So that was the 2014 Chiltern Hills Classic
Car Rally. Overall a great day out, with so
many classic cars / bikes / military vehicles
and so many side attractions and stalls
this one day show is well worth attending.