La Belle Supreme Cigar sign... now it's really done!

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

La Belle Supreme Cigar sign... now it's really done!

Post by Larry White » Thu Apr 08, 2004 10:35 am

This sign is being created from a downloadable vector file available on the Letterheads main site.
I decided to create a large sign. It is 61" x 42" and is of 1/4" standard plate glass with a 2" bevel all around. It was custom ordered from Western States Glass at the tune of $147.32.
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The glass was coated with asphaltum varnish and allowed to dry. The stencil was weeded, transfer taped, and applied over the varnish. The glass was then sandblasted and the vinyl mask was removed, molten glue was then flowed over the sandblast and just up to the varnish. A couple of personal notes on glue chipping:
1) I just clean the glass with glass cleaner prior to the asphaltum varnish. I think that over cleaning the glass keeps the asphaltum from sticking as good.
2) Of all the different masking materials I've used, I like Venture Tape's 4 mil white Sandblast mask. It seems to stick good to the asphaltum and hasn't "blown" in the sand blasting process.It also peels easy after sandblasting. I prefer to weed the stencil prior to application rather than after it's stuck to the glass.
3) After flowing the glue on, I go back and cut the glue any where it has bridged, or radiused around a sharp corner. Actually, I go back and put a small cut at every corner thats 90 degrees or less. That includes on all the lettering. It's my belief that doing this little extra step ensures sharp points and corners.
4) While flowing on the glue, I found that I missed one dot in the design that didn't get weeded, or sandblasted. I took my electric micro engraver and etched in the dot and put the glue on. This technique could also be used if there were a few stubborn spots of asphaltum that didn't get blasted off.

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We were experiencing some very dry weather (25% humidity) and the glass was half chipped by 7:00AM, just 17 hours after applying the glue. I rolled it out into the sun and it finished by 2:00PM.

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I cleaned off the remaining glue and the asphaltum varnish. This is how it appeared from the front. Some additional notes:
1) After it appears to be done chipping, I go around and lightly tap off the remaining glue with my exacto knife and brush the whole thing down.
2) Next, while it's laying flat, I flood it with water. Then I cover it with a layer of flat paper towels over the entire surface. After it has soaked for about 30 minutes, I lightly scrape off the swollen glue with a razor blade. Then I dry it all off.
3) I then flood the surface with paint thinner and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I scrub it around with an old bristle brush. I then wipe it all off with paper towels. It's my belief that if you've chipped in a hot booth for an extended period of time, the asphaltum gets baked on and is much more difficult to remove.
4) After cleaning with the paint thinner I spray it with some Quick Release Agent. This seems to pull up any asphaltum that got down into the crevases of the chip. I then clean it with glass cleaner, both sides.

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I reapplied some portions of the mask and silvered the whole thing. Using Calon II computer cut vinyl, I masked off several of the areas I didn't need to be silvered (see the red mask from the front in the next photo). The text at the bottom of the sign was masked right up to the edge of the glue chipping. The panel and center ornament's mask was inset slightly (already in the art) which gave me a silver bright line. Although the "La Belle" text got silvered, it will be cleaned off and gilded. These areas of mask didn't want to stick to the glue chip and lifted off during rinsing. (The correct way to do it would have been to edit the file, deleting the text and center ornamentation and just keep the block shapes.) I cleaned the glass real well prior to applying the vinyl, then cleaned it carefully again afterwards. The red areas seen in the picture above are just areas where the silver didn't deposit on the vinyl. The rest of the red vinyl is covered with silver. A few notes:
1) I cleaned the glass real good with glass cleaner and inspected for any small glass chips that needed to be popped out. I then cleaned it real well with an ammonia and whiting mixture.
2) I placed the vinyl stencil pieces, and carefully cleaned it again with the ammonia and whiting as I had touched the surface when applying the stencil. After cleaning, I gave it a full rinse with tap water.
3) I tinned the entire surface (32oz. of tin solution) and swabbed the tin around with a ball of cotton. Then I fully rinsed it with tap water followed by a rinse of distilled water.
4) I mixed up about 60 oz. of silver solution and quickly poured it over the entire surface. It went down quite evenly. I mixed another 30 oz. of solution and poured it on the areas that appeared a little light and all around the edge. After deposition, it was rinsed with tap water.

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Here's how it appeared from the front after silvering. The red areas are the vinyl I reapplied which automatically defined many of my bright lines.

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I backed it up with asphaltum varnish then proceeded to weed out the stencil. The white areas are where the vinyl stencil was. Previously, I would have silvered the whole thing and hand painted all the outline work shown above. There's quite a time savings in this alteranate method. Next will be some gold gilding.


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I found this oil painting on ebay which will work well for the center pictorial. It's on it's way from England, not bad for $53. ...how do they do that? (ebay seller ID: dandwart)

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Okay...sorry to keep you waiting. Today I water gilded the main copy and the ornamental center ring in 23K gold. As usual, gilding over glue chip, it took two water gilds and a surface gild. The first water gild, I gilded with full leaves. The second gild, I gilded with half leaves and really only concenterated on voids in the bright line area. The third surface gild was over the entire chipped portion of the letters and the full ring. I then gilded it with composition leaf and backed it up with Fine Gold Ochre backup. I then cleaned the excess gold using a small soft shoe brush I snagged off ebay. The brush thing works great for removing the excess leaf and I won't be going back to the former method. Prior to gilding I painted a black outline seperating the gold and silver gilds at the center ring. It probably would have been better, and more cost effective, to angel gild the gold first, then silver the whole thing. ...but...

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The next step was to add a black outline and a black drop shadow to the main copy letters. When painting in the colors on the lower text, I'll paint them with one big block of color. This block of color will show through the clear glass giving the individual letters their color. Seeing how asphaltum varnish redisolves with any type of solvent based paint, I will give the entire sign a good coat of spray shellac, all except the center pictorial circle which I want to remain true clear glass. I will mask off the center circle with a disk of static cling vinyl.

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After a good coat of shellac, I blocked in the colors for the secondary text. I did a blend of red to dark blue on Havana Cigars, and dark Prussian Blue and Black on the smaller copy at the bottom. After the blended colors had dried, I painted over them with the middle value color.

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Here it is from the front with the colors blocked in. All that remains now is the background for the main panel, framing and pictorial installation. :)

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Rick Glawson spoke of a production technique employed by Rawson & Evans in which they airbrushed a black glaze onto the ends of various panels followed by backing the whole area with a single block of color. The black fades changed the tone of the color to appear as a blend. I had never tried that technique until now. So I airbrushed a black glaze, consisting of clear and black fibroseal, in both end areas of the panel. This will give me the look of a blended color with the application of just a single color!

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After the airbrushed sections were dry, just to be on the safe side, I gave them a shot of shellac. I then blocked in the green color I had mixed up.
A little advice, when creating period type replicas such as this, use japan colors. The colors are nicer and truer to that time frame. Leave the One- Shot for your other projects. Rarely do I use a color right out of the can (tube), I'm always mixing them to a shade or tint other than the "right out of the can" color.

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Okay...here it is from the front! I turned it around and was pleasantly surprised how nice the blended panel came out. I think I mixed just the right color, and the airbrush technique really worked good. It very much looks like a period piece! These little pictures don't really do this piece justice, it really is looking georgous! ... table saw time tomorrow. :D

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I decided to build my own frame for this one. I purchased some molding, corner details, and some plywood over at Lowe's Home Center. I cut a big rectangle out of the plywood and affixed the molding and corners to it. I gave it it's first coat of finish...now it's drying out in the sun.

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Well I finished up the frame, postioned the pictorial, and slapped the rest of it together. All in all this project came out pretty sweet, minimal learning curve, and no rework! Another glass sign to enjoy. I hope you enjoyed this post on this sign's creation. :D :D

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Well I decided a few more screws in the back of the frame wouldn't hurt. It would hurt if it fell apart while hanging on the wall. I went over to Home Depot and figured out some bracketry and hung it up. Now it's done.

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This sign was too large to hang in my old home, so I had it up in the shop. But now, it fits nicely on my living room wall!
Last edited by Larry White on Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:11 pm, edited 15 times in total.
Larry White
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Mike Jackson
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glass

Post by Mike Jackson » Thu Apr 08, 2004 10:44 am

Hi Larry,
You have to get the "stay with us" merit badge! This is the third time Larry took the time to post his project for us, but maybe it will be the last one. Looks like he got it figured out! With this new Forum, he can come back to the post and add photos of the finished piece, and edit any previous comments.

It is a beautiful piece already. Thanks to Gary Godby for sharing the file with this site! Click the link to the right to download the 244k file:

http://www.theletterheads.com/pub/labelle.ai

Note: Some browsers will attempt to replace the .ai extension with .ps. Just make certain to keep the name "labelle.ai". You should be able to open or import the image into most sign making and DTP programs.

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Also, if you visit the Rawson and Evans section of The Original Letterheads web site at http://www.theletterheads.com, you will notice many of the original Rawson pieces were quite large.

On a side note, Danny Baronian mentioned watching a Charlie Chaplin documentary on one of the PBS or History channels. He told me there were numerous Rawson pieces in the city streets New York in many scenes. He can expand on it sometime, but it would be worth keep an eye open for that show.
Last edited by Mike Jackson on Sun Apr 11, 2004 9:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
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stencil

Post by Mike Jackson » Thu Apr 08, 2004 10:05 pm

Hi Larry,

Thanks for adding the extra text for us. I was confused by the red showing up in the silvering, but now I understand that is just the color of the Calon II red vinyl you used as a mask. When we are viewing the last photo you posted so far, we still see red, but again that is not paint, but a temporary mask which will be removed for later painting. I had always used white or clear mask and it had be baffled!

Did you have that piece of glass custom cut and beveled to fit the design?

I might throw this out for anyone interested. We did a job using computer cut Hartco sandblast stencil to do the frosting, then used GerberMask to do a few outlines on a glass piece a long time ago. When it was time, we tried to apply the stencil over the chipped areas, only to find the stencil was not matching left and right...even when cut from the same file. What we found out was the Hartco's stencil was slightly off in the hole punching, causing it to cut slightly smaller. When doing a project like the Labelle sign, I suggest using the same brand and same kind of stencil throughout the job.

Thanks again,
Mike Jackson
Last edited by Mike Jackson on Thu Apr 08, 2004 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
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John Grenier
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Thanks

Post by John Grenier » Thu Apr 08, 2004 11:48 pm

Larry,
Thank you for your efforts to post your project here. Like so many others I have been watching and learning.
John
John Grenier
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Les Cheneaux Islands Art Gallery
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La Belle

Post by Danny Baronian » Fri Apr 09, 2004 1:28 am

Larry,

what I'd like to know is why this sign isn't done already. You started on it April 1st, and by Sunday you had it silvered and backed up.

Where are the pictures for the completed sign, or do you have to work for a living?

Danny

Larry White
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Post by Larry White » Fri Apr 09, 2004 2:43 am

DaBaron-
I know it's unusual that this piece isn't done yet. I've been under the weather the last few days :( , but will continue soon. Oh, and I'm working on another one at my home studio that I'm going to use as a new business card...it's lookin' pretty slick. ...did I mention that I've needed to keep uploading this step-by-step to multiple BB's? ...that's where my times gone :wink: . I'll try to get it done by next Friday...
Larry White
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Larry White
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Better Photo...

Post by Larry White » Fri Apr 09, 2004 12:09 pm

I posted a better photo of the back up after the vinyl was weeded.
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Jeff Umsted
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Post by Jeff Umsted » Sat Apr 10, 2004 9:13 am

Larry your are the man!! :shock:


Jeff

Larry White
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Color Suggestions?...

Post by Larry White » Sat Apr 10, 2004 1:02 pm

Hey do any of you Rawson and Evans enthusiasts have any suggestions as to what the original color scheme may have been on this sign?

I would imagine that the techiques used wouldn't have been too elaborate as they were in a production type mode. I would like to make it look authentic, but my mind usually goes off on elaborate.

I'm doing the "La Belle Supreme" copy in 23K water gild and was thinking of doing an outline and a narrow drop shadow. The ornamental ring in the center is also 23K water gild and I have a pictorial for the center. Any suggestions on the other copy as to color and/or blended color would be welcomed, also any thoughts on how the background panel (for "La Belle") may have been rendered would be welcomed too.

Thanks!
Larry White
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Post by Danny Baronian » Sat Apr 10, 2004 3:29 pm

Larry,

if you have the Rawson & Evans screen saver from Letterhead fonts, there are quite a few photos of original R&E signs at Esoteric. Some were in original condition, others repaired by Rick.

I've never seen a colored of the La Belle other than one done by Gary Godby, but that may have been his own color scheme. On the screen saver, check out the Breneiser sign. It was the 3 x 12' sign in Rick's shop above the door next to the women's bathroom. There was another one very similar on the right as you entered the store.

The Breneiser is the most colorful one I've seen with a 2 colored ribbon and color border around the pictorial. The balance of the sign was silvered. My impression is that the majority of the signs were silvered with black lettering or angle gilded with a combination of colored letters or backgrounds.

I don't know if any color illustrations even exist of R&E's pieces, let alone the La Belle.

You found a good source for your pictorials. Have you received the one for La Belle yet, and have you seen the original pictorial? I can post a picture of the original you'd like.

Danny

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Post by Danny Baronian » Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:57 am

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Larry, heres the photo that Gary used to digitize the La Belle piece your working on.

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This is part of the colorized version Gary made.

Saw your latests addition, the signs looking nice. Regarding your remark of angle gilding, backing up then silvering, I think it's doable.

I've considered what Rick said frequently said about shellac. I believe a shellac barrier could be used over the angle gilded areas, then silvering. Looking at the brilliant carving site Dave Smith visited after the Memorial Conclave, there were several pieces that were both angle gilded and silvered by a man in Santa Cruz. It would be a good idea to read the section on shellac on the original letterhead site for anyone that hasn't read it, it has some good information.

Your lady is pettier.

Danny

(note: this post slightly edited by Admin to include Gary Godby's image)

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color

Post by Mike Jackson » Sun Apr 11, 2004 10:01 am

Larry,
Rick Glawson and Pat Mackle had a nice photo portfolio of Rawson and Evans pieces. Unfortunately, all the photos were sepia toned (basically black and white) images. All of us that visited the Conclaves saw a few Rawson panels hanging around, but I never knew which ones Rick had restored and which ones were untouched originals. It seems like a lot of them used red and black as two major color schemes, but I can't imagine that being the actual case if they had so many signs all over the same few blocks of a street in NY or Chicago. A cigar store located next to a dress shop would certainly want a different color...I would think anyway.

The biggest pattern we can see is most of the ornamentation was bright/clear silver and most of the background was chipped and silvered—same as you did on this LaBelle panel. Personally, I would make it the color I would want to look at on my wall for the next 50 years, instead of bright red and black. While Rawson and Evans did some quite complicated work, I think most of it was done on a budget and I haven't seen a lot of gold and silver on their surviving pieces. At the turn of the century, it is evident that labor costs were dirt cheap and skills were high. This is an art piece for your experimentation and enjoyment, and it appears time and materials are not the issue. Have fun!
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
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Larry White
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Silvering over prior work...

Post by Larry White » Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:01 pm

Danny-
As far as I understood it from Rick, almost any inscription could be silvered over. He noticed on many of the European pieces a black line seperating the elements of the design from the silvered backgrounds. He also determined the silver background had been done last. He figured out the black outline was asphaltum varnish. The enscription was outlined, then filled in with asphaltum completely covering the enscription, then it was completely silvered. The silvering process would silver right over the asphaltum and the asphaltum would not interupt the silvering process and it would also seal the inscription from lifting during silvering. I haven't tried this yet but evidently Rick had success with this technique. So in esscence, you could angel gild the gold with it's silver backing, back paint with asphaltum, clean off the excess gold, then silver over the top of it. Shellac was never mentioned in this process.

Perhaps David Trujillo or Dave Smith could comment more on this technique...where are those guys?
Larry White
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Post by Danny Baronian » Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:16 pm

Larry,

my thought is that the shellac would be a better barrier for the next stages of ornamentation and eliminate the black line. I've only tested a few small pieces but it seems to work well.

The images on the brilliant carving site of the piece with gold and silver appeared to be crisp without the usual black line. The shellac, unlike asphaltum will stand a lot more abuse without breaking down the edges. I also like the fact that the shellac can be removed selectively without affecting anything else.
Danny Baronian
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gold

Post by Mike Jackson » Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:23 pm

My concern would be getting the gold out of all the deeper crevices if Angel Gilded first. Unlike silvering, you actually have to scrub the gold off I have found that to be a real hassle at times.

On some Angel Gild pieces, I find the excess gold comes off easily with only cotton and on others it almost seems bonded to the glass. On those occasions, you better have a tough film of shellac!
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
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Larry White
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Thanks!

Post by Larry White » Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:01 pm

Thanks for your imput Mike and Danny...especially that recommendation on making it how I'd like to view it for the next 50 years....

-Larry

Larry White
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The clock is ticking...

Post by Larry White » Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:16 am

Hey Danny-
Looks like I might have this thing up on the wall by Wednesday the 14th. That would be start to finish in 2 weeks... not bad. That's a lot quicker than the 6 months I spent on the Rick Glawson sign. ...but his is better.

...thanks for all the tips and tricks Rick...I will always miss you... -LW

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Post by Danny Baronian » Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:41 am

Larry, very nice job. While Rick certainly inspired many of us, your larger project has made me enlarge two pieces I'm working on. The sizes I'm doing are considerably larger than what I've done in the past mainly because of the pictures you've posted with your project.

Rick's influence continues. Thanks for sharing.

Danny
Danny Baronian
Baronian Mfg.
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Larry White
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Glad you could follow along...

Post by Larry White » Thu Apr 15, 2004 7:08 pm

Down loadable vector file - FREE
Piece of beveled glass - $142
Some silvering solution - CHEAP
Couple books of gold leaf - $60
Some various colors of paint - $15
A pictorial for the center - $53
Some wood for a frame - $78

Sharing it's production with my friends over the internet - PRICELESS

...Thanks Mike :D

Robin Sharrard
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THANK YOU!

Post by Robin Sharrard » Thu Apr 15, 2004 7:38 pm

Very, very nice Larry! Thank you for taking the time to share not only the photos, but all the details on materials and cost to go along with it. As Danny said, Rick lives on in the people he influenced, and would be proud! Robin Sharrard :)
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Post by Dennis Davis » Fri Apr 16, 2004 11:45 am

Larry, you are an inspiration to anyone who has followed this series from start to finish. What a beautiful piece of work. Congratulations.

Larry White
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Now it's done...

Post by Larry White » Thu Apr 29, 2004 10:08 am

I got it up on the wall, now it's really done. -LW

Larry White
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Post by Larry White » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:33 am

Hey Mike-
Thanks for bumping up the Hamilton Bank Note step-by-step. I enjoyed reviewing it myself. It would come in handy if I decided to make another one. I look around at all the glass art I've made and kind of wished I kept better records of the techniques. I look at some things and can't remember exactly how I did them. I doubt my record keeping will get any better either. I kind of wish I had one of those step-by-steps for each sign I've made. But for any new people to the craft, you might want to keep a record of what's been done on your projects for future reference.

Since Mike bumped up the HBN step-by-step, I thought I resurface this one too. It's got some good information. There's also a step-by-step on the Rick Glawson commemorative sign I made here:
Rick Glawson sign
Larry White
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Vitaly Naumov
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Re: La Belle Supreme Cigar sign... now it's really done!

Post by Vitaly Naumov » Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:21 pm

The file with the layout, no one was left? The link he is no longer a long time.

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