DIY: Hand-Painted Photo Props

You all have already learned our officiant, Don Hughes, is a multi-talented gentleman.  If you did not catch our blog post on Don, read all about it, then keep reading below:

What was not mentioned is that Don got his degree in Art and Design from what is now Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.  So that made him JUST the person to execute the next DIY project: hand-painted photo props!

I met Don at his art studio – a beautifully converted shed in his backyard which he named “The Chateaux”.  The well-organized space was filled with art supplies, drafting tables, and his own art pieces he swears he needs to carve out time to “fix”.

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (1)

Don explains to me the tools he’ll be using: really high-end lettering sign paint called 1-Shot, squirrel hair brush (with metal ferrule or quill), and good ole cardboard for his palette.

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (10)

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (11)

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (12)

As Don worked the paint to a consistency he felt was smooth enough, he told me a few stories.  I would have been disappointed if I didn’t get a few new stories out of my visit.  Don remembered his first lettering job in 1959: He was commissioned by the local rescue squad to letter their emergency vehicle.  With a cheap brush and green paint, he worked slowly and meticulously and painted “RESCUE SQUARD” onto the vehicle.  He had trouble living that one down!  He mentions his pen and ink calligraphy class with teacher Katie Blackwell.  And punctuates his stories with tips as he paints.  Freehand.

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (4)

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (5)

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (6)

With just a little tape as his guide and some light pencil guiding, he steadies his hand on his other, and starts to paint.  One tip he reveals is to actually paint the letters onto the tape (see the above photo for an example).  If you do not paint past (and onto) the tape, you’ll come out with squat letters.  He describes hand-painted signs as a lost art, though he was able to put all kids through university on that skill alone.  He loves how hand-painted lettering loosens the stiffness of mechanized work, often relieving the issues of spacing a computer cannot solve itself.  Here Don removes the tape and fills in the small piece of lettering that is missing:

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (7)

Don presents both his finished products – the Mr./Mrs. signs and the Just Married Sign.  He took all of 10 minutes to hand paint that sign.  And he was going slowly so I could snap photos and jot down notes.  That’s experience, my friends!

DIY Don Hughes Sign Painting (9)

Now all our engaged couples get to use Don’s hand-painted signs and our previously created DIY framed chalkboard as photo props for their wedding photos!  Thanks Don!

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