Tales of a Traveling Airbrush

When I write up one of my more memorable masterpieces, or some of my various memories, I will post them here for you to enjoy. Comments are welcome; I'll try to reply.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007


Aside from the old chrome and stainless steel components securely attached to welded and painted structural tubular steel, was just an old shovel head engine that had been carefully polished to a mirror sheen that understandably shared space with slight wear pocks and a cast iron texture that spoke of fifties technology. The only color on the entire machine other than chrome and black was the color of the spark plug wires.
“Make the design yellow to match the wires,” My bearded customer commanded, “with a little bit of gray.”
A small “bobber” was before me. The Ape Hanger handlebars and coffin gas tank echoed old school fun that I was about to make complete with a retro pinstripe design. I shared looking at this home spun building project with many others who came through the din of engine noise, dust of the festival grounds and the glare of polished metal to stand, stare and appreciate yet another nice bike.
Laconia Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, is wooded mountainous country next to postcard pretty Lake Winnepesaukee. The roller coaster roads that curve through this beautiful countryside are perfect for the eager bikers that accumulate here each year to ride through and roar around. Letterfly has a home here, during the annual event, at the top of the hill at the Lobster Pound.
While I created old school pinline designs and hand painted images of all kinds, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of creativity that exists on many of the visiting bikes. Others would notice and appreciate the glory of building your own bike too. While they feasted on the smorgasbord of two wheeled apparatus that went past, the activity of naming the plethora of essentials that made up the bikes was very popular amongst these admiring bikers. Due to her finely tuned ear, my sidekick Susan was able to accurately identify many of the components of the endless parade of bikes thundering past the booth all day and night to the amazement of the guys that waited at the pinstriping station.
Her teens as a flat track racer sensitized her ear to the sounds of high performance engines along with types and sizes of the many tuned exhaust systems. Her years at the parts counter at several Harley shops makes her accurate appraisal of these components often top the guys that take great pride in their accumulated knowledge of the subject of carburetion vs. injection, and advantages of certain suspension systems and other topics ad infinitum. Innumerable combinations of parts, both custom made and off the shelf makes the variety of possibilities immense. The congregation attracted other like-minded aficionados and our corner of the venue became a pivotal place for the allocation of motorcycle revelations.
Letterfly Pinstriping at Laconia Lobster Pound had become “Creativity Central” for the backyard build-off’ers. These underdogs, unable to compete with the high profile chopper builders that attend functions like this to sign autographs and the lucrative corporate limelight with huge sponsors like Budweiser and Dodge, none-the-less accumulate a following, albeit much smaller, in the midst of the throes that are everywhere.
With bikes being wheeled in and out of the pinstriping area, personal painted touches often qualified as the task that brought about the magnum opus of the builder and the completion of a truly unique combination of mechanical components that states American ingenuity all the way.
We at Letterfly salute the dedication, precision, passion and creativity that the basement bike builders possess in admirable quantities and thank those that found our friendly “think tank” as a haven to congregate, dream and connect. I feel privileged to be included as a contributing brush-holding member of this elite group, those that build and ride the endless creativity of “home built USA”.

Photo by Memories in Motion

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Wow, I love ‘em.
I caught the first glimpse as I was crossing the Berkshires. The sight of young, stark, white growth interrupted the hypnotic drone of the highway. The birch seemed glad to provide diversity amongst the dense, dark, old growth hardwoods. My heart leapt. I had been driving all day - across the breadth of Pennsylvania and halfway up New York State - where I turned right and headed into Massachusetts. The mountainous terrain was flanked with lush forest of a green that affirms that this part of our country receives adequate rainfall. Wildflowers and hayfields added to the mix along either side of the road with occasional long excavations through solid rock providing evidence of a monumental task now complete. Numerous crags and boulders seem to challenge the relentless task of the trees. The mighty rock may very well be proud for having lived for eons and remain unmoved but the tiny sprout that finds a foothold can promote a crack and thrive.
I had plenty of time to reminisce as the drive progressed up and down the mountainous terrain. Observing and admiring the trees growing from all available locations gently provoked a review of my life, perhaps because I performed throughout all of New England thirty years ago with the circus. I am blessed. Anything I have ever wanted to do came easily. As a result, I have enjoyed a career filled with variety, excitement and wonder. Starting as a touring musician, developing a fascination with classical horse training, I excelled at all aspects of creating art with paint. Now writing and entertaining is mixed with an interesting career as an artist and the whole time has been filled with travel. I live an interesting life.
Soon I will be at my destination; Bike Week at Laconia, New Hampshire where I will be creating one-of-a-kind painted pinstriped masterpieces for customers that have motorcycles.
I am blessed and like the birch trees, I have found a way to thrive in whatever environment God has found fit for me in spite of the challenges and obstacles that occur around each bend. I had no idea an epiphany would occur as the result of embracing and enjoying the humble birch tree today. With elation I call to mind the advice the plant kingdom seems to be showing me by its example: “Grow where you are planted”
Seize and enjoy this day, thrive and bless the world with the joy and beauty that is in your heart and until next time, happy motoring.