Sure, I can do that…

It’s nice when you claim to be capable of doing something you’ve never done before; and it actually works…twice. Not a major innovation, but when you’re in front of TV cameras, the Mayor, and a crowd, it’s nice to have things go without a glitch.I was asked to do gold leaf scroll work on a small locomotive that is on display. It is now a tribute to the American folk hero John Henry. I also did stripes and lettering.

The new part came about when the owner wanted to keep the name hidden from public view until the unveiling. As it was, I needed a cover anyway, to keep the rain and night air off the fresh paint. I didn’t think it would look good with the average blue, green, or camo tarp, so I proposed to make it look like a big Christmas present, complete with ribbon, bow, and card. Usually, clients don’t buy into my most-awesomest ideas, but this time, she thought it was a great idea.

OK, so now how to make all this stuff. I was going to use the fabric drop cloths available at many hardware stores, but Harbor Freight had a silver colored one of the perfect size. I made the bow and ribbon from vinyl flashing painted red. The second new thing was when I was asked to leave it on until the event, and pull it off then. That involved some planning, to keep it from snagging on an exhaust pipe and an air horn. But the planning worked, and I was spared any on air bumbling around.

Prior to the event, I was told that all these people were to be there, along with a podium, an African-American woman, and a ukelele. I thought great, we’re going to have to sit through a speech about the need to allocate heretofore nonexistent resources on opportunities for the disadvantaged. But no, I was wrong; guess that’s what happens when you look for political motive under every rock. The podium was for the mayor, who gave a surprisingly good speech. The woman was a musician, sang two songs; one about John Henry, the other a Christmas carol.

In the pictures, the center circle is 18 karat gold, the scroll work is 23. I wanted to order 24 karat (pure), but my supplier was out. The brown shading is asphaltum varnish. You know your work is archaic when spell check flags the name of your material. Since this wasn’t an historic restoration, I didn’t feel obligated to use period tools and methods; so I used an airbrush to apply the shading. I really like the results. The back of the cab wasn’t wrapped, because it faced away from a busy intersection.JH_art2JH_artJH_ready


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