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A Paintin' Safari

(September 2006) posted on Wed Sep 27, 2006

The Letterheads add color to the Cincinnati Zoo.


By Steve Aust

click an image below to view slideshow

Twelve years ago, ST first hosted the Letterhead movement's International meet at the Cincinnati Zoo. In June, we returned to present Safari at the Zoo 2, which celebrated the fellowship, spirit and education integral to this loose affiliation of signmakers who revere the craft's traditional techniques.

Approximately 180 sign-industry professionals and their families attended the meet, which included an enjoyable mix of longtime Letterheads such as Bill Riedel, who's been crafting signs for more than a half-century (see ST, February 2004, page 60); Kent Smith, owner of Greeley, CO's third-generation Smith Sign Studio; and newcomers such as Sheila Davis — who recently opened Newport, KY's Davis Signs — all of whom eagerly absorbed the opportunity to perfect new design and fabrication skills.

The zoo's family-friendly environment encouraged attendees to bring their children, many of whom enjoyed the chance to learn handlettering and design techniques.

Everywhere one turned during the Safari, the spirit of teaching and sharing was in full force. Whether it was John Jordan, an Australian signmaker and Letterhead fixture with six decades of experience, offering an in-depth analysis of proper glass-gilding materials and techniques; Abracadabra Signs (Ayr, Ontario, Canada) owner Steve Greer's lively presentation of cartooning tips; or Francis Lestingi, the owner of Williamsville, NY's Signs of Gold, offering hands-on instruction in casting architectural-sign appliqués, myriad opportunities addressed new skills or techniques to grow a shop's repertoire.

Creativity also abounded in the zoo parking lot, where pinstripers Tramp Warner, Dewayne Connot, Bill Riedel and Brian Briskie showed their expertise under the big top. Several intrepid car owners, including David Horne, who works in ST Media Group Intl.'s marketing department, left their rides to this veteran quartet's imaginations.



Telling the meet's complete story through prose would require reams of paper, so ST's staff submits these photos to underscore Safari at the Zoo 2's camaraderie and energy.

A Scottish Tickle


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