The Lucky Seven
Pinhead Summit ...
Well, here I am doing a write up for, of all things, a Pinhead Meet! I, who have only just been to my first Letterhead Meet this past year in Bloomington, have now wandered (or perhaps stumbled would be more like it) onto the frontier of some major pinstripe and airbrush action!
To say that I felt like a fish out of water would be an understatement, yet I also felt as though I was being taken under the wings of a wild and unbridled flock! I had an absolutely fabulous time! How could anyone help but to have fun, with the adrenaline pumping though the room, it simply engulfed everyone and there was no escaping it! My only complaint was not knowing which newly learned technique to try first, and not wanting to take the time away from watching others in progress to do so. Such a dilemma! (I say with a wink.)
Mike Lavallee out did himself putting together this meet. If anyone knows Mike, they'll know this is a tall order in itself! All the months of preparation, the stressing of details and worrying about the outcomes were well worth his effort. Mike even managed to survive the last minute glitch of what was thought to be lost name tags that were feverishly remade in the wee hours before the meet. Thank goodness for his quick thinking gal Rhonda, some verbal encouragement from my direction, and Kinkos for being open at ridiculous hours for just such earth-shaking emergencies as this. (I always wondered what fools needed Kinkos at those crazy hours!) As suspected, the original nametags were found the next day! Now with such calamities in the background, it didn't take long for the show to get going in full gear!
And whatta show it was! As is natural, the photos will shout over my words here, but I will try to describe for you some of the highlights of this meet as best I can.
The theme for this meet was Vintage Nose Art. This included a mixture of things from bullet holes, fire and rivets, to Pin-Up Gals which were a favourite for those war time boys of that era.
A very special feature at this meet was the presence of a man named Owen Hughes who was an actual Nose Art painter from World War II. Owen spoke abit about the history of Nose Art, and had some fabulous stories to share from his memories of that time in his life. He had us riveted to our seats with his tales, but the portfolio he brought to share with us was really something to behold. It was said that Owen, himself, left this meet inspired to pick up a brush and paint again. Could we be surprised?
Many veteran artists and newbies alike had traveled for miles to be there. From all corners of the US, and Canada, to as far as Australia!. We were proud to have among us an outstanding talent from down under. That would be, non other than Darren Wenzel, who at one time worked for our long time Aussie chat pal Rod "Ticks" Tickle.
Darren came the furthest miles to this meet and for that stretch he was awarded a special tribute of a small metal airplane appropriately flamed and adorned with the personal signatures of all who attended the meet. Additionally, Darren was also the one whose ticket was randomly picked to win the Main Door Prize of the meet. This was the large original panel Mike Lavallee had painted of the meet's logo, accompanied with a kiss from the meet's very own "Pin-Up Gal" herself, Lesa Jensen!
What a lucky guy, and it couldn't of happened to a nicer one either! Darrin is still within his first few weeks of being in the US, with about 3 more months to go, and it's already starting to look like he'll be exceeding the airline weight limits for his flight home!
One guy who always brings an especially wide smile to my face is Bill Riedel.Craig and I first bumped into Bill at the airport in Calgary during the Banff Meet. Upon, seeing the sign-type gear we were hauling, he came up and introduced himself to us with the accurate intuition of where we were headed. We offered him a ride into Banff and in doing so had the sheer pleasure of some very interesting conversation making that long scenic drive all the better.
Bill is, shall we say, a very well seasoned "Letterhead" with more years racked up in this trade than he may care for me to share, yet the spirit of this kind gentleman is still one of a newcomer. That twinkle in his eye is priceless, and I find this to be true wealth in happiness. At this meet Bill brought along an incredible surprise. It was with the pride resembling that of a father, that Bill introduced Javier Soto to the world of "Letterheads/Pinheads". How fortunate for us.
Javier (pronounced Ah-vee-eh) is called "Jay" for short. One look at his portfolio tells you that this guy ranks up with the best of artists, and yet he is modest beyond belief. There was only one thing better than viewing the work in his portfolio, and that was watching his magic unfold before your very eyes. I believe this was one time that the thought of wanting a camcorder really occurred to me. I certainly hope to see him at many more meets! Thanks Bill, for this treasure.
Mark Matyjakowski (say that 3 times fast!) is a newcomer who came to this meet by way of the Letterhead Website Bullboard. Jumping right in feet first, he volunteered to do the directional signs that helped us all to find the meet. While there, Mark was often seen picking his jaw up off the floor with a dazed look in his eyes, and you could almost hear the gears grinding in his head! Mark invited his wife and son to get a peek at the meet in an effort to explain his time spent involved on the BB. I warned her then, that after this meet, Mark could most likely be found out in the shop busily creating new masterpieces.
Along with all the panel jammin were some serious "jammin" tunes to keep us all in high gear! Many folks brought their favourite CD's which were cranking thoughout the weekend, but the coup de grace came when the band kicked off, and they were smokin'!
Mary & The Boy's with "The Blue Groove" kept us light on our feet and feeling the groove! I'd say they were partially responsible for one funny little episode that took place.
Down the hall in the building where this meet was held was a wedding reception. The groom, during a trip to the rest room,was lured by both music and curiosity into our event.
Upon stepping into our space he soon became severely sidetracked. First it was the band, then Jeff Courtney's Harley showcasing Mike Lavallee's wicked pictorial, and before you knew it, one thing led to another, and this groom was browsing the works on the panel floor.
Meanwhile, out in the hall, after what probably seemed like an eternity to her, the bride in wedding garb, wandered aimlessly searching for her new hubby. Our friend Taffina (from Alaska) seized the opportunity to help her out, but in doing so, decided to get a little "playful". Motioning the bride, into the meet, she casually mentioned some of the "girlie" nature of the artwork. (Taffina, you naughty gal!) Well folks, that bad boy was soon being pulled out by his ear, and we can only hope that the honeymoon isn't over!
There was a true sense of sharing at this meet. Many long time favourites showed us some of their tips by their examples. Jeff Devey showed us cool lettering techniques with his clean style, Joe Cieslowski carved tiny sword stripers out of wood, Mike Lavallee turned us on to his "Swiss Cheeze" technique, Tim Cox entertained us with his airbrush, and John Hannukaine spinned out mini pictorials along with a t-shirt bearing Jay Allan's smiling face. Steve "Wizard" Chasyeka created realistic bullet holes and rivets, but also kept us captivated with his imagination which, I'm sure, must be directly hooked up to his airbrush. Perhaps even intravenously as he used no other references.
Bill Beckner was in the sidelines with a childlike gleam in his eyes, and a smile as he took each of us aside to hot-stamp our T-Shirts with a sword striper "bomb" on the sleeve. The number we each received designated the number of the total 7 Pinhead Summits that we each attended. Naturally, I was happy to receive my first lone "bomb" and will wear it proud. Tim Cox, Gary Jensen and John Hannukaine collaborated on the pinhead graphic for the back of an official leather bomber's jacket, which was then signed by all and given to the meet host, Mike Lavallee.
Drawings were held for several big door prizes, aside from the one I mentioned that Darren won. I myself was the grateful recipient of a new Iwata Eclipse Airbrush! Business cards were pulled for a turn in order to collect other such great door prizes as various videos, sign tools, paint, books, t-shirts, caps, prints and even homemade "bomber" salsa! Hot dam!!! Virtually no one left empty handed.
A draw was held for the Supporters of the Letterhead Website, and Kelly Cajigas of Key West won a Dave Dorsey Graphic CD. Also from the Website, a lucky business card draw for Al Zabriskie won him a combination Inflite and Elite Signkit fully stocked with goodies. Thanks Steve and Barb for all you do for the betterment of our trade, and giving us all such a wonderful sounding board!
Among the booths that sold their wares at the meet were Mack Brush Company, Buegler Stripers, and SignGold. Tom Smith, from Hyatt Art Stores (a local, but also national chain) was at hand to demonstrate the Gerber Edge, show us examples, and provide us with scans and masks when needed. Thanks Tom, you were great to us and we appreciate your time at this event. I also met a very friendly gal named Jennifer from Signs Of The Times Magazine, who looked like she was having oodles of fun too! The excitement was contagious wasn't it?
One Shot had four of their new colours there for us to play with and, although I forget their official names, I do remember them to be new shades of a Teal, an Orange, an Ivory and a Purple. A contest was also announced for the mixture of their next new colours, and the opportunity to provide our custom recipes along with our names for those colours.
I would like to share some of my own personal tidbits from this meet. Upon landing in Rochester, I was relieved to be greeted by a somewhat flustered Mike Lavallee with a calm and cool Rhonda Price by his side! You two were a welcomed sight!
Watching the panels line up side by side on the showcase table was one awesome surprise after another. I particularily enjoyed being an audience to the unveiling of such things as Mike's "Phoenix", Don King's dimensional piece, and Jeff Lang's Neon & Gold Leaf piece.
Mike offered me his "BombBay Salsa" panel that just vibrates on my kitchen wall where it now hangs! Thank you Spykaroo,, Craig and I love it!
Tom Smith made some decals from my business card on the Edge and they looked fabulous! I spent a good deal of time the first day watching and listening to John Hannukaine as he worked, and can only hope he is aware of how much I appreciated the attention in teaching that he gave me during that time.
I remember asking him what airbrush he was using, and upon his answer being Iwata Eclipse, I made a mental note to put it on my wish list. Later that weekend, I was walking up with a winning ticket to receive one. If only the skill could be so easily attainable!
I also invested in a set of Hannukaine's new line of quills. Don King had a great, and ever-so-light mahlstik he developed which he was selling at the meet. I managed to snag the last one just in time! This tool was a must have. I traveled home with it in my backpack looking like an alien with an antenna. People were asking me if I was getting good reception!
I had brought along a bright red "virgin" signkit to this meet and placed it out for people to decorate with their signatures. I was delighted with the results! Dewayne Connot reproduced my logo on it in micrometers! He just never seizes to amaze me. The panel he brought to this meet was what he claims to be his first attempt at painting a person. Check it out folks, not too shabby!
I enjoyed meal times where not only was the food tasty, but the laughs and talk shared at the table were flavourful and robust too. I met Diane and Ernie Balch and Bruce Bowers who until this meet were only familiar names to me on the BB and chat. Cam charmed us all with his mischievious grin and humour, Steve "Slosh" Schlosberg, engraver extraordinaire, added to the mix. Steve and Barb, along with Mike and Rhonda kept me feeling at home away from home. I absolutely loved sharing pet stories with Valerie and Dewayne Connot, over coffee one morning, and I'd like little Samantha Connot to know what a great hair braider she is! She did me up right!
By the last day of the meet I found myself mustering up the courage to ask people for a little undivided attention. One such person was a guy who blended in at this meet like one of the regulars! His name was "Zeke", and it was only when I had spent a little time talking with him that I discovered that this was his very first one. He sure fooled me as well as others too! What a natural! Zeke devoted some time, and plenty of patience showing me how to pinstripe, taking me through several steps with various brushes. We did "esses", figure eights, straight lines and loop-de-loops. We topped off the lesson with a collaborated effort by Zeke, the only "real" pinhead, and three "wannabees" including myself, Ingrid, and a real nice tall guy whose name I never knew. Can you guess whose striping looked best?
I asked Jack Lindenberg if he would mind painting my name in script, which he gladly did for me. I don't think I have ever seen my name look so good before! He has inspired me to develop a better signature for myself.
Perhaps the subtlest and most understated influence actually snuck up on me during the last few hours of the meet and it came from Rhonda Price's portfolio.
This is a gal I had spent quite abit of time with at the Banff meet, and now at this one. I had seen glimmers of her talent and admired how clean her work was, but it was not until I went flipping through the pages of that teeny little portfolio of this modest gal that I really understood what a dynamo she is. We are talking SignCraft material for sure, in my estimation, and if she doesn't send some photos in, I may just have to sneak some in for her!
One last special moment that I will mention here came when Joe Buck from New Bern, North Carolina offered me his panel. I was really touched by this and want him to know that it has a good home here on the wall of my studio. I hope to reciprocate with a worthy panel sometime in a future meet. Thank you Joe.
On that note I would like to try to somehow express the warm and fuzzy feeling I got from seeing people exchanging panels with the ones they admired at this meet. The sentiments that are shared in these exchanges could make even the burliest of fellas reveal a glint of a tear. These were very genuine exchanges of not only pieces of art, but respect. Many little hearts were smiling. For what it's worth, I am truly honoured to be in the company of such a passionate breed.
Speaking of breeds, I have found that those Pinheads types are a breed unto themselves. They are loose, impulsive and unencumbered by rules. All traits I would enjoy emulating. I always walk away from these things with a heart filled with warmth, a head filled with ideas, my spirit nurtured with kindness, and my batteries charged with enthusiasm. I also walk away with a few lessons learned too. What more could anyone want outta life, and where else could you find it all in one place?
If you are thinking you might want to give this kinda ride a try, how 'bout making it to the next event? Run, don't walk! There's bound to be one coming to a neighbourhood near you sometime soon. Mike has informed me that next year's Annual Pinhead Summit will be taking place at Yabo's in Vainesville, Ohio, so watch for it! I know I will! In the meantime, keep close tabs on the Event Page on the Letterhead Website. You really don't want to miss anything like this do you?
Want One Of These Cool T-Shirts?
Mike Lavallee has come up with a very cool T-shirt design to commemorate this very exciting Pinhead Meet.
We believe that many of you who could not attend this event in person might still want one of these shirts as a souvenir. Here's what you need to do!
Gather up $15US for each shirt you want, and then send your check or money order to Mike. Be sure to include your name, mailing address, phone number, number of shirts, and the sizes you want to...
One dollar from the sale of each shirt ordered is being given to this website. Thanks Mike! Every dollar helps.
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E-mail Mike at....