Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

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Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:31 pm

Hey All,

I'm a 60 year old brush man here from California. I've been lettering and screening since the early 1970s. I've lived in a few different states picking "flowers from baskets" where ever I went. Soon after finishing my college days I found myself in the midwest and then to Denver, Colorado. While in Denver in the mid to late 70s I worked for two different sign companies.....Advance Neon and Arapahoe Signs ...both on Broadway. I also tried out my very first sole ownership sign shop for a year there in 79. While at Arapahoe Signs, I worked with two guys, Wil Morton and Archie Anderson and Joe Tedusco (okay that's three guys).... who knew and introduced me to Earl Vehill, Mark Oatis and Noel Weber....who in turn got me over to Bob Mitchell's for some direction in glue-chipping in Golden, CO. So, at the time, I had no idea that these guys' shops I used to just drop in on a couple times and shoot the bull with about "saving the true craftsmanship of sign design" and really, basically trying to emulate those nice old post victorian, art nouveau, and art deco letter forms.....would soon spawn the "Letterheads". I recall Earl's "Casualigraphy" he developed and we all copied. It was a cross between single stroke casual and classic calligraphy. And another turing point for me was combing cool techniques like sand-blasted redwood signs with inlaid stained and glue-chipped glass. Oh, and then those very daring color combos on way-finding signs at all those dozens of massive suburban neighborhoods sprawling out everywhere back in the shale-oil and other "alternative energy" developments back in the booming age of such commerce. I remember watching Noel and Oatis who would do these cool little sandblasted post'n panels that had dark green backgrounds with magenta lettering and light blue pin-striped outlines. Pretty radical stuff back in the day right after the Bi-Centennial era.

So, up to speed where I'm at is back in my hometown of Hanford, CA on recent disability due to a heart condition. I had a massive heart attack in '04 while working at a big sign shop in Seattle. They saved my life with emergency stent procedure ..and they found during a follow up, the condition of BAV (bicuspid aortic valve) something I was born with and is a permanent case even with a valve replacement (that will come one of these fine days.) However, now that I have three new coronary arteries, as of last year) which is helping my plumbing... I can work and am doing pretty okay. ;) So, I've started my own shop again and have gotten more and more requests to do hand painted graphics, signs, and pin-striping. And I gotta tell y'all, it feels good to get back in the saddle again...albeit not NEARLY as aggressive or energetic as I used to be putting in those 12 hour days 6 days a week. haha! But, it is carrying with the new interest in some markets....an interesting amount of cash. I think we've actually lived to see the day where our art is indeed a rarity that is desirable ....again. Thank goodness!

I'm going to be attending as many Letterhead meets I can close to my area this next year. I've already been invited to one up in Petaluma. Gonna grab my 37 year old son, who's a good sign man out of Hayward, CA to go with me. Life is good! Chat atcha laters!
~Gear

Mike Jackson
Site Admin
Posts: 1685
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:02 pm
Location: Jackson Hole, WY
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Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Mike Jackson » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:29 am

Hi Geary,
Welcome BACK! Thanks for the history refresher from the infancy of the Letterheads in Denver.

Be sure to post a few photos as you get the new hand lettered signs out the door.

Cheers,
Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:05 am

Thanks Mike,
Great to be with you guys again after all these years. ;)
Here's a couple of iPhone shots of some new signs that were just hung today. There are two of these, one on each side of the corner of this building. 2x8 MDO panels with redwood frame and quarter round. All paint. I got the job from a renewal project for the Historical Society of my home town here in Hanford. Not a super fancy job and not a lot of money for this work at all but it was sort of on a fast track to get 'em done type thing...however, I insisted along with the owner of the business, that these NOT have any vinyl on them. The city agreed and is very grateful for the way they've turned out. ;)

~Gear
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Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:21 am

So those pics show my painted panels and the owner, Steve Banister, finishing installing his door light. Steve has been a critical ally in a movement of restoration in the city's historical society called "This Place Matters". His partner, Arianne Wing, comes from one of the first families of Chinese settlers in the town and has a long wonderful history of doing business and helping our community thrive. I'm trying to do my part in helping to preserve this significant part of my heritage as well. You see, my family lines go back three generations in Hanford. The Wing's and the Wootten's kids all grew up together here. ;)

oatis
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2004 12:33 am

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by oatis » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:40 am

Geary: How wonderful to read your post, and to view your current work. You are obviously holding up your end of the craft, and are aligned with clients who know the real thing when they see it. It is also terrific that you are sharing the legacy with your son; that's the stuff that truly counts.

I'm trying to remember WHICH dark-green sign (with light-blue outlined magenta copy) you are referring to--there were so many--but it must've been one of Noel's. The guy has always been a trendsetter.

You mention Archie Anderson. He passed away a number of years ago. Archie was one of the greats. He was a spiritual guy, and a fantastic easel painter, in addition to his considerable bench skills. And I believe Joe Tedesco is still in Florida; perhaps he'll log on and give an update.

I look forward to your posts, and to seeing more of your work.

Yours,

Mark Oatis

Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:26 pm

And truly wonderful to hear from you Mark. I don't think you and I spoke more than a few times during my time in Denver. I did hear of Archie's passing. Wil, Archie and I had a great friendship...going to each other's homes for supper and sharing the craft. Will landed a neat commission of restoring an antique Merry'Go'Round in eastern Colorado back in 1979 I believe. When I contacted him a couple of years after that is when I heard of Archie. I contacted his wife to express my condolences. And you're right....he was a very spiritual guy with about the kindest heart of most I've met.

And now that you mention the color combos of the green and magenta lettering possibly being Noel's work ....that confirms it for me....I now see him in my mind's eye out there. It was a development near the Inverness Center as I recall. hmmmm...oh wow....a lot of years my friends. lol

I hope to chat with Joe if I can. I'm also going to see if Will Morton is still around. Also, what has happened to Earl?

~Gear

noelbweber
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Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 1:48 pm
Location: Boise, ID
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Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by noelbweber » Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:02 pm

Hi Geary,
Glad to see your still enjoying your craft. Denver was such a stimulating period in our lives. To be around such an inspiring group of friends, (Letterheads) learning and sharing new techniques, exploring old ones. It was definitively the foundation for my career. That color combination was definitely Earls. He could add spunk to any layout with color and lettering.
The Letterhead photo was a airbrush panel done in the 70s at a Letterhead evening. The other studio photo is me approaching my 70s.
Still loving it still engaged in the process.
Hope to see you at a meet sometime.
Noel B. Weber
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Noel B. Weber

Mike Jackson
Site Admin
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Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:02 pm
Location: Jackson Hole, WY
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Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Mike Jackson » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:42 pm

Hey Noel,
Congratulations on your first photo post! Now you know how easy it is, maybe you can post a BUNCH more of your old and new work. You, and all of the rest of the original Letterheads, continue to inspire us all.

Cheers,
Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

vance galliher
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:38 pm
Location: springfield, or.
Contact:

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by vance galliher » Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:12 am

. It’s good to see your smiling presence again Noel. I still use the maulstick I left behind at one of your early gold workshops, or maybe a conclave….. you and David Smith somehow mailed it back to me from china (authentic postage and all).... I remember tracking you down, I even called England, and after intense questioning, you gave up the ruse.........thanks for the intrigue
...And mike is right noel! You are a gift to this sign making craft of ours. I’m 71 in a few days, and I’ll never stop wanting to make what I’ve not made before... And it’s great to see how things are done. My hope is that Artist such as you, who have skills and experiences to share, and that would have a large audience, should consider making "how to" videos… just a thought
…it would be revenue to you…..and a blessing to us………
welcome Noel
vance
dimensional and glass art signs
http://www.vancegallihersigns.com

Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:44 pm

The one and only!.... NOEL B. WEBER!!!! Man alive.... in the flesh (although cybernetically ha!) You, dude....were/are still one of my biggest inspirations. So, it was Earl's dark green and magenta scheme, eh? LOL

Ya know?....I knew when I met you at Earl's place that one time on a Saturday way back in 78 or so with Archie and Archie's brother....listening to you guys about "bringing back the craft" and then keeping the flame alive....was very significant. We all had no idea that within ten years that little Gerber 4B was going to have that big of an impact on the landscape. But, as you probably thought as all true Letterheads, all it was....was another tool in the sign kit in spite of the millions that just used it to crank out Helvetica as big as possible all the way to the edge of a layout with no borders! Ha! :P

Thank you for responding my friend. My only regret of the past Denver days (besides a divorce and splitting the area in 1980) is not being at more gatherings....and just "beating my brains out for the other guy". But, after my move back west, I was able to meet Carl Rohrs in Santa Cruz. Also walked in to the late-great Mike Jackson's shop in San Jose just before he moved back east to work at Thoroughbred Graphics. Then eventually living and working up in the Seattle area and becoming friends with Greg Reid...who is still doing his part in the Letterheads / Pinheads' community scene up there.... I have to say that I have been one helluva fortunate dude!!

Happy New Year Noel to you and yours and thanks for still being there man. Although it's always been great and a part of who I am.....this whole thing of still living out the dream of this wondrous craft has meant more to me this last year than ever before. I'm looking forward to sharing where ever I can in 2012.

Later days to all my brothers-o'-the Brush!

~Gear
http://www.gearywootten.com

vance galliher
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Location: springfield, or.
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Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by vance galliher » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:00 pm

Geary, interesting that you mention Carl Rohrs. He shared part of my Santa Cruz barn studio with me in 80-81. I don't think I've ever seen him post on this forum.
vance
dimensional and glass art signs
http://www.vancegallihersigns.com

Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Pics

Post by Geary Wootten » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:41 am

Hi Vance. Nice to meet you 'cybernetically' (my new favorite made up word) ;) I'll see if I can track down Carl and hit him up to come on board as well.

So Everyone, my wife found what's left of a handful of old photos in my early days. Back in about 1985, I had two huge photo albums of my work. I hired a "traveling salesman/sign guy" once and loaned it to him to use for getting jobs for us. Two weeks later.....he was history and my albums 'travelled' with him. :( But, I've got a few orphan pics.

Speaking of pictures to catch some of you up to date. Here's one of me wall-doggin' it on a repaint for the old Gallo Salame plant in San Franciso. Love those big ol' 80s glasses don't you? ;P
And then here's a shot of me a few weeks ago in San Francisco with my oldest granddaughter at the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum.
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Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:04 am

Some more pics from my earlier days - the 80s & 90s.

~G.
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Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:07 am

My old shop sign. And YES.....I did try to get the brake guy to buy a sign REALLLLLLY cheap from me.....he eventually did. Can't find it right now though. ;(


~G.
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Jerry Berg
Posts: 343
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 3:17 pm
Location: pacific northwest

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Jerry Berg » Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:28 am

Thanks for posting some of your pictures Geary. They take me back to good times.

Jerry

Larry White
Posts: 1140
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2004 4:18 am

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Larry White » Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:45 pm

HAYWARD!?! ....That's the End of the Line!...

If you'd ever like to stop by and visit my wood
and glass museum...it would be alright.

I'm at 1273 Industrial Parkway #550, in Hayward.

You know anything about a sign guy down in Bakersfield?
He's someone you'd remember....

I do some etched signs, and some gilded glass...mostly glass.

Happy New Year all!


.

Geary Wootten
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:41 pm

Re: Old Letterhead Back In the Saddle

Post by Geary Wootten » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:34 pm

@ Jerry Berg - You betcha man. Glad I brought you back ....lol.

@ Larry White - I live in Hanford...but, my son lives in Hayward. I will definitely look you up next time I run up there for a visit. My kid works for Sam's Signs down on the Boulevard. ;)

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