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Steve & Barb Shortreed
144 Hill St., E.
Fergus, ON, Canada
N1M 1G9

Phone: 519-787-2892
Fax: 519-787-2673
Email: barb@letterville.com

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» The Letterville BullBoard » Letterhead/Pinstriper Talk » Adventures in sign painting . . .

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Author Topic: Adventures in sign painting . . .
Sheila Ferrell

Member # 3741

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Here's what I did on a Sunday afternoon . . .

if not interesting work-wise, I hope you find my work at least amusing . . .

I chose the warmest part of the day for no apparent reason.

It was only a simple 4x8x.75 oval outline & script lettering but it still took 5 hours.

The blue canvas awning soaked up the paint, but the latex paint dried fast, so I worked areas I could reach from each ladder position, coating and recoating as spots dried.
Average 4 coats (or more).

I started left, and moved my ladder 4 times to work a section.

This job was fairly easy. I ended up around $35 an hour - using only about a pint of paint.

Don't tell anybody.

But every job has it's one little problem.

This one just had a few more . . .

The big problems (in order of size):

#1 problem: I'm too old & fat.
The resulting problem has occured even in my 30's, but usually during the last 5 minutes before coming down off the ladder - not within the first 5 minutes of starting . . .
standing on the ladder for roughly 65 minutes per section - my feet & ankles kept going numb a lot. Constantly had to pull a foot off to bend & stretch it, prop a foot up on next rung, etc, all, of course, while holding paint can & brush . . .

Trapeze artists really got nothin' on us sign painters . . . furthermore, they could do not do their work at all if they were fat.

#2. It was windy so the awning cloth moved a lot. Made painting crisp edges difficult which added to time involved.

Wind also slightly increases the painters natural 'caution' level to the next level or what some call 'anxiety', when on the ladder . . . (see 1)

Studies have shown, & scientists have determined anxiety makes you fatter.

3. It was kinda hot yesterday. That is, if your carefully balancing in one spot for about 60 minutes in direct sunlight . . .
SHOULD'A arrived early enough to be in morning shade . . . but, the wind did help cool me off a lot . . .
(see 2)

4. The pitch of the awning is very steep which is actually good.
It's just over 14 feet to the top of the awning, plus it has a really strong frame. Most awnings are way too flimsy to lean a ladder against.

My step ladder was more stable, but still wouldn't allow me to reach the very top of the oval.
My fiberglass extension ladder is much taller, but I feared the added weight on the awning frame.

My aluminum ladder was about right fully extended, but I still had to work on it from the truck bed to reach the high spots.
The awning material was kinda slick - possible left-right ladder-sliding hazard coulda been reduced by using some grip-cloth . . . which naturally, I didn't bring . . .

Problem #5:
This job took 5 hours.
(see 1 thru 4, plus 6)

With a taller ladder I would've saved time not using the truck. Positioning the truck, and repeatedly positioning plywood under one ladder-foot in the truck-bed adds time. Climbing in and out of the truck bed just to awaken limbs adds minutes.

Moving slow and carefully climbing up/down the ladder due to trick-knee, and so as not to slide left-right adds time, as do frequent ladder-perch stretching excercises . . .

Pausing during wind gusts, and/or going slower trying to press the awning-cloth taut with left elbow, and/or right pinky while lettering -
yeh - the minutes pile up . . .

For those of you unfamiliar with these specialized balancing acts, keep in mind, the left hand is holding a paint cup. The right hand is holding the brush. The painter is perpetually balancing, focusing on the work progress, all while caution & stability is being pondered in the subconscious - here, we are discussing physical stability only. Mental stability is another subject . . .

Meanwhile, during painting, one notices and considers many peripheral things - like . . . I worried that my dog might be too hot in the truck. Better go roll the windows down another notch or two . . .
as we all know, every extra, absolutely necessary trip up-down the ladder creates another opprtunity to make the 'one wrong move' . . . but at least it is an opportunity to move deadened limbs . . .

Also, I couldn't help but notice . . . every single person that walked by was a black male, headed up the street northward.
No person that passed by ever came back. No new person walked by coming from the north direction.
Each person paused immediately at the same time my dog barked, then continued their walk, but in a much wider path around my work area.

I'm sure I slowed my pace considerably as I repeatedly pondered why no one ever walks southward on Broad Street. And, why do only black men walk only Northward on Broad Street on Sunday afternoon?
And why do they never come back . . . ? (see #6)
Where is this migration headed . . .?
What kind of mathmatical story-problem could I create with these few facts . . . ?

Also, pausing to maintain balance on ladder in bouncing truck-bed while dog alarm sounds-off had to add at least 20 minutes additional time to the work day . . .

I think I could'a done this job in 2 hours or less if there were any such thing as 100% perfect conditions . . .

Oh yeh, #6.
For just a little added excitement . . . there was this dog . . .

My dog, Forest was in the truck cab while I worked.
Because this job was mid-town Selma, and a nice day, a lot of people walk by.
At least 10 guys walked by, in average 15 minute intervals, and each time Forest would jump up and bounce around barking very energetically . . . which bounced the whole truck a little . . .
(see 1, 2, & 4)

Thankfully it's done - this job was about 8 months waiting to get done. There was waiting on winter to end, and we've had a lot of rain. It's been really windy - I've had other stuff goin on . . . but to reiterate, there's no such thing as 'perfect conditions' . . .

Keep on brushin' . . .

Sweet Home Alabama

oneshot on chat

"Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a dog"

Posts: 5758 | From: "Sweet Home" Alabama | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
John Arnott

Member # 215

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Hey girl.....nice familiar story.....glad I'm retiring.
Always good to hear from ya!

John Arnott
El Cajon CA
619 596-9989

Posts: 1443 | From: El Cajon CA usa | Registered: Dec 1998  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Deb Fowler

Member # 1039

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great hearing from you Sheila, now you need a masseuse before and after climbing. I'll look for Fabio!
That should be a great lift after the lift!

Deb Fowler

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible - Walt Disney (1901-1966)

Posts: 5373 | From: Loves Park, Illinois | Registered: Aug 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
old paint
Member # 549

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were you wearing a bikini????

joe pribish-A SIGN MINT
2811 longleaf Dr.
pensacola, fl 32526

Posts: 11582 | From: pensacola, fl. usa | Registered: Nov 1998  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bill riedel

Member # 607

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That was a great story, brings back many memories. There are so many things that run through your mind while working, especially while on unstable ladders. Working off a narrow plank between ladder jacks was a lot of fun. You had to lean in towards the building all the while so as not to fall off backwards.

Bill Riedel
Riedel Sign Co., Inc.
15 Warren Street
Little Ferry, N.J. 07643

Posts: 2953 | From: Little Ferry, New Jersey, USA | Registered: Feb 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Raymond Chapman

Member # 361

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Great story. I pictured the whole thing in my mind because I've been there...many times, except the dog part.

Chapman Sign Studio
Temple, Texas

Posts: 6306 | From: Temple, Texas, USA | Registered: Nov 1998  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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