Despite doing both in my time, I'm neither signwriter nor calligrapher. People who can call themselves either of those things have the enviable quality of being trained in very specific skills, both of which were on plentiful show at the weekend at our friends George and Michelle's 3rd Annual Vintage Rally.
George and Michelle live on a farm in Cadeby (actually, their farm seems to BE half of Cadeby, a tiny Leicstershire village) from where they grow apples, keep chickens, geese, horses and a pack of well-trained guard dogs, let the cats roam free to catch the mice and run an architectural reclaim and demolition business. It's a busy site, and this weekend it was completely taken over by a collection of old and steam-powered vehicles from tractors to steamrollers to live-in vehicles (and our old Austin Allegro which we sold to George years ago).
Most of them were adorned with the most beautiful typography, humbly rendered in paint like this Foden lorry from the 30s, or as metal insignia. Take a look and marvel at the steady hand that did these.
'Isobel' the Lorry wears this pretty name badge, which reminds me a bit of some of my own handwriting. Again perfectly spaced, which is difficult to do on a curve like this. I'm not keen on drop-shadows but this piece would be so much less without one!
This is clearly done in a one-take hit, using a brush, I think. The handiwork here is by Brian Evans, who I'm told is the authority on signwriting including the kinds of technicolour work you see at fairgrounds!
The kerning on this is perfect. I can't help wondering if he uses a guide line, or masks bits out. And there's more than one layer of paint on there too.
My hand-rendering would be more like this...
Here are the pretty vehicles wearing the type, after years of restoration.
E. Taylor, whose notoriously council-hassling skip firm supplied our drive with massive metal yellow bins for months on end last year, had this old beast on show. His new lorries aren't nearly as attractive.
Look at the angles on this one - HAS to be some masking tape involved, right?
There's nothing like seeing elegant typographic curves hewn in three dimensions. The first instinct here for both of us was to grab this Foden logo and grip it. It just looks like it needs 'testing' doesn't it, with a firm hold?
...though I prefer this unpainted version with its unashamed screw heads.
Even a simple debossed A in a car's hubcap is quite exciting.
Then there are the juicy little details you get on second inspection:
Typographically perfect and no bigger than a couple of inches!
Name the font on this plated slab of a thing? Whatever it is, I want a UNIMOG 1000. Or a fleet of them. Preferably ones who are mates with Optimus Prime.
Here's an entire vehicle splendid in its coachwork and lettering. So many shiny bits, and pretty wheels too.
This little beauty together with all of the other vehicles travelled together into the village centre on Saturday afternoon to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Teddy Boston, rector of Cadeby Church (he christened my youngest sister) and spare-time railway-builder. The Reverend Edwin Boston was described as "a short, round, jolly man, much given to Anglo-Saxon language in times of stress, such as a close run race with his traction engine Fiery Elias", and was the inspiration for fellow Reverend W V Awdry's Fat Controller. The vehicles made a slow trundle to the church where they placed this home-made tribute, bearing worryingly fat-penned but well-meant type by me.
(I went with the wrong pens, thinking I'd have a space ten times the size of this! But no-one seemed to mind).
Here's the invitation I designed for the event, printed by Gartree Press of Leicester on a Heidelberg GTO Press on Arjo Wiggins Conqueror Wove:
A pint at Sutton Cheney and a fitting end to the weekend. For the record, here are the organisers of the whole thing, George and Michelle. Cheers Denny family!