Chris Craft Boat Lettering

After years of development in the skill of hand lettering, certain projects come along that may seem small but are quite a treat, as well. The title of this post might be confusing, because lettering a classic wooden Chris Craft Boat is not a small project. It is an honorable project when the lettering is 23K gold Leaf, outlined in black on a beautifully varnished mahogany wood vessel. Here is a picture of one I gilded in 1999. The picture was taken with the craft floating in Lodi Lake  after the lettering was completed. The body of water the boat currently resides in is Lake Tahoe. The owner of “Sterlyng”, Bill Norby, has commissioned me to paint many other Chris Craft boats, and these are small.

Bill spends most of his time building Chris Craft boats… that can sit on your desk or mantel. He specializes in Runabout’s built during the 1930’s through the 1950´s.  These models are constructed from birch, spruce and plywood, then covered with mahogany planking, just as the real boats.  They range in length from 28″ to 41″. Some of the clients that Bill builds these classic models for, want to have the name of their boat lettered on the transom, or both sides, or maybe on the trailer the boat rests on. You can see the boats and some of the lettering on Bill’s website (or you can click his link on the right under Sites I Like)

These next few photographs show a ‘step by step’ of  the boat WeLikeIt, which I lettered a week ago. The colors are Imitation Gold and a black outline. The last picture is the boat My Evil Sidekick , which I lettered prior.

I am known for lettering large on walls and 3″ reverse gold leaf letters behind glass, but not many days are you asked to letter a big proud 3/4″ tall title of a boat with 1/4″ name of its port of call.

Am I crazy? Maybe, maybe not.

Issei _ Acrylic on Canvas

After completing the 12′ x 90′ mural “Japantown Memories”, I was commissioned to paint five 24″ x 30″ x 1.5″ canvas, to tell the story of the Issei in Lodi. This was quite an honor, for a few of the Issei descendants are friends I went to school with, colleagues I worked with or acquaintances I have met in our community.

Issei are the Japanese who were born in Japan and emigrated to America. Nisei are the children of Issei, born in the United States.

Few Japanese workers came to North America intending to become immigrants. Initially, most of them came with vague plans for gaining new experiences and for making some money before returning to homes in Japan. This group of workers was overwhelmingly male. Many Issei arrived as laborers. They worked in employment sectors such as agriculture, mining, and railroad construction. If they had not been prohibited from becoming citizens, many would have become citizens of the United States

While the Issei were making their own path, circumstances between their homeland and the US grew tense with each decade, until the culmination of war at the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That point in history, was the end of the prosperous lives of many of the Issei. Their homes, land and possessions were taken from them by the government of the country they called home, and the place where their children were born.

These five paintings can only communicate this story in the briefest of ways, and they were installed on the wall inside the Issei Room of the Lodi Buddhist Church. The first four I painted are colorful and full of life, adventure and prosperity. The last of the five was intentionally painted with gray and muted tones, barely catching the mood of an unknown future in a desolate place.

The majority of Japanese who came to Lodi, CA, were from Hiroshima, Japan.

This is a painting of the gate in Miyajima Bay near Hiroshima.

The tall structure was made of huge tree timbers, and would be a lasting landmark in the minds of those leaving here.

Many of the Issei traveled across the Pacific Ocean aboard a ship, maru, like this one, the Shingo Maru. Here, the vessel is seen breaking through the fog with the Japan coastline in the distance.

Picture Brides are waiting for the stamp of approval before entering the United States, inside the Immigration Office located on Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay.

The fourth panel is a scene of the prosperous Japanese American family farm. Nisei, children born in America to the Issei are eager to help. Because Issei were forbidden to own land in California, the farm was usually in their Nisei’s name.

This last painting, in gray and muted tones, is the unknown future before the families as they prepare to enter the Interment Camps, bringing only what they can carry. Japanese families from Lodi were interred in Rowher, Arkansas.

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Reverse Gold Leaf Glass Paintings

Last Wednesday evening, I was invited to give a demonstration at the World of Wonders Science Museum. This was a kick off event, a new type of evening fundraiser for the museum, titled “An Evening into the Unknown, Where Science Meets Art”. Every month, a different demonstration will bring science and art together for the public. My demonstration was the art of laying gold leaf behind glass in the water gilding method. The turnout was good and the audience was dazzled and entertained, many ‘unknown’ to this craft.

The local paper provided coverage of the event,

I showed the proper way to clean and prepare the glass, making the gelatin water size, laying the leaf to the glass on the reverse side, how to burnish the leaf, backing up the leaf with a lettering brush, using a steady hand and a mahl stick, and finally cleaning the excess gold away to reveal the lettering outline preserved. Many glass pieces were displayed, including one for the WOW Science Museum. When this piece is finished with a final backup and framed, I will post it here with a couple step by step pics, also.

In advance of the evening’s demonstration, I created three pieces of reverse gilded glass, painted in the verre e’glomise’ technique. Verre e’glomise’ is a French term for reverse glass gilding and painting. Here are pictures of three pieces of glass I gilded and painted in reverse, they will be framed and available through the science museum.

The first is a Golden Scarab Beetle, rendered with 23k Gold Leaf and Palladium leaf,that is etched and backed up with Japan colors. Next, stippled clear and black fibroseal and followed up with bronze mica powders, Then, I painted in colors of gouache and backed the entire glass with green variegated leaf.

Next, I gilded this piece with 23K Gold Leaf, and etched a fossil through the leaf, After backing the image with Japan Colors, gouache was applied and mixed in the appearance of stone. Then I gilded the next layer with black variegated leaf.

The third piece I created was from an underwater photograph I was able to snap as we were snorkeling in a bay near Kona, Hawaii. The guide called to us within minutes of entering the water, pointing in the direction of a sea turtle that was spotted in the distance. I we swam towards the location, in the distance I could see the peaceful movements of the turtle heading straight towards me. It never changed direction and I was able to get several pictures, this from directly above as it swam beneath me. I gild the glass with 23K and Palladium leaf, then etched the turtle, revealing the light and lines of the shell and the sectional areas making its head and legs. Next, I filled in the turtle with three Japan colors, blending as I painted. Next, I applied abalone shell fragments and mica powders, and when dry, painted colors of coral in with gouache. Finally, I backed the entire piece with 18K Gold Leaf, reflecting a warmth through the color.

Creating art by reverse gilding and painting of glass is invigorating and leaves me with a thirst to create a new watercolor. Then, I finish a watercolor and crave the brilliance of the gold, a endless circle of fun and discovery.