Sorry those pictures aren't great. For some reason it never occurred to me to take a picture of them. I know. Duh.
The whole process got me thinking a lot about my grandpas. My dad's dad, Grandpa Bill, was a sign maker by profession. He created the stencils which would be used to paint a sign on, say, the side of a truck, for example. And he was a calligrapher and lover of all things hand-made. In his retirement, he perfected calligraphy, jewelry making, painting, copper on enamel plates (some of which are hanging in my dining room to the left of me as I write), gold leaf and furniture restoration, just to name a few. From him I inherited my love of all things hand-made and a love for the process of creating something with my own two hands, as well as the appreciation for things made by others. I especially learned a love for creative, beautiful lettering. I wish I had a fraction of the talent he had and hope that some day I will have the time to practice and focus more on the art. I also inherited from Grandpa Bill a desire for perfection, which is something I fight against every day! :) This project was meant to look "unperfect" so it was great for me!
Thinking about Grandpa Bill also got me thinking about my Grandpa Joe, my mom's dad, whom I knew much better. From Grandpa Joe I inherited my love for sports, particularly baseball. He was a wonderful athlete, who would be so proud to see his grandson (who bears his name) finally excelling at sports and really learning to love the game. We also share a love for Boston, his hometown, which we never visited together. I hope that my own parents have the chance to share their hometowns with their grandchildren. What better way to learn their history and stories. And my gramps loved to tell a story. From him I learned the joy of hearing and telling a great story (sometimes over and over to the same people). We love to make people smile. And the man cried. A lot. Nostalgic, loving, sentimental, just like his granddaughter. And stubborn as all hell. Yeah, we share that, too.
I'm missing my grandpas terribly lately. How I wish my Grandpa Bill could see that, though I never perfected the art of calligraphy, for nothing I do is ever perfect, I have grown to love the process, and find great joy and peace in the craft. I never see a hand painted sign which doesn't make me think of him. I wonder what he'd think about Pinterest and etsy. In a day and age of quick and cheap and plastic and free shipping, would he appreciate online resources for a reconnection to the past? If he were a generation younger, would he have his tech-savvy son helping him set up his own etsy shop? I wish I'd paid more attention in those calligraphy lessons, lived closer so he could have taught me cloisonné. Taken a trip to Vermont with him to admire the gold leaf signs. And my Grandpa Joe I miss every day. I wear my Boston Red Sox hat for him and wish we could have enjoyed a game at Fenway together just once. He never got to see Zachary play "real" baseball, but I know nothing would make him happier than playing catch with him just one more time. I wonder what he'd think about watching Annalise and Juliette dance. I can hear him laughing and cussing and maybe even doing a little imitation just to get a laugh. But I know he'd be proud of them, too, even proud that his granddaughters are great athletes, too. (He was slow to come around to the idea of girls playing sports... not one of his best traits!!) I'd love to hear his ridiculous stories just one more time, even the ones I've heard a hundred times, seeing his blue eyes fill with tears. I wish I had another chance to meet both of them again. In my old age, I've realized just how much I learned from each of them. I wish I'd learned that sooner.
On to the signs...
So I stole a pallet. Well, I didn't exactly steal. I asked permission first, then parked illegally, and shoved that puppy into the back of my van. It was much bulkier than I thought and I was glad I'd talked a friend into helping me shove it in. And then Jason took it apart, which really was not a pretty process. At all. Perhaps we should have looked at the online tutorials on how to take apart a pallet first. Anyway, we got it apart and Jason cut 24 pieces, of varying lengths for me. No pictures of this part. Like I said, not so pretty.
Then I painted the pieces poorly. The idea was to make it look like the signs were old, so using a pallet was perfect, as was painting them quickly and sloppily. This was so super easy and fast! (Which was necessary, since this was all done two days before the fair.) I used regular pre-mixed house paint from the hardware store... No time to be picky about colors, though I did add some gray to the blue, as it was a little darker than what I wanted. Here are some of the painted pieces.
You can see how the pallet was perfect for this because it made each piece a little more interesting.
While they were drying, I went to my computer. I wrote out each name I wanted on the signs in Word and then I selected which font I wanted to use for each. This way I could be somewhat brainless about painting and just copy the different fonts. I downloaded a few new fonts for the process (which I love to do anyway). http://www.dafont.com is one of my favorite places to look for fonts. Then once the base paint was dry (top and bottom and all sides, since I knew they'd be seen from every direction) I started to paint. I made eight signs in each color, used white paint to write on the blue and red signs and either blue or red for the white signs. Here was my first sign:
It's one of my favorites, too. I love the hole in the sign. The font for this one was American Typewriter and I used just a cheapo paintbrush that I got at the hardware store for all the lettering. Nothing fancy, just copying the computer! Here's a close up of some of the white on red signs:
If you look closely, you see all the imperfections, but as a whole, I think they went with the tone and feel of a small town Americana Country Fair.
To hang them, we next bought two 2 inch (I think!) square long pieces of wood. I banged them up a bit with both sides of my hammer, and then painted them poorly with white paint. We installed them with zip ties to other poles either on the playground or the large rented "town square" tent. My husband pre-drilled holes in each sign approximately in the middle of each one so we could easily install in place with screws. The signs more or less pointed in the direction of the various games. Here they are again:
A little piece of Americana, twenty minutes from downtown LA, in our own small town USA.
I hope a little bit of nostalgia maybe will bring you some joy as it brought to me!