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发布于:2019-10-18 00:44:03  访问:76 次 回复:0 篇
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Meet California`s Nerds Of Neon
Chris Raley will never make a \"Welcome to Las Vegas\" sign, so stop asking. \"There are entire gift shops in Vegas full of ’em,\" he says. And Raley isn’t interested in doing what everyone else is doing. His workshop—a spare room in his tan, two-story Fresno home that’s painted yellow and filled with thrift-store finds—attests to this fact. Standing atop a table are several unique acrylic models of commercial signs, most less than 18 inches tall, that you won’t find in Vegas gift shops—signs advertising the Safari Inn, Western Appliance, the Sun N’ Sand Motel, and more. Raley, an affable, soft-spoken 48-year-old who favors a T-shirt and jeans, has been building these miniature signs for the past two years. He belongs to a loose fraternity of Californians who are obsessed with vintage signage. Instagram (and in the earlier days of the Internet, Flickr) and bond over their love of the big, bold, over-the-top signs of the mid-20th century—the glory days of roadside advertising.
Some of the signs they document are more famous than others—Roy’s Motel, for instance, and the Milk Farm Restaurant, and Circus Liquor (yes, that Circus Liquor). But they’re all quintessentially Californian. Thanks to the state’s world-famous car culture, placards like these once dotted main drags from San Diego to Sacramento. But that was then. These days there aren’t many neon beacons beckoning to drivers on California thoroughfares. Growing up in a town about 40 miles north of Fresno, Raley drove past the Astro Motel sign countless times. He didn’t think much of it back then. But in 2015, https://nationalnews.icu/ a realignment of State Highway 99—to accommodate California’s long-time-coming high-speed rail project—put the sign in harm’s way. For Raley, a stay-at-home dad, that was the turning point. Something changed. The Astro Motel sign became his muse. But how best to memorialize it? First he tried painting a picture. But \"it came out horribly,\" he says, pointing to the finished painting—which isn’t as bad as he says—in his sawdust-sprinkled garage (the leftover sawdust is from a previous woodworking hobby). So Raley moved on to making models. Which made sense: A former Air Force mechanic, he’s more comfortable following blueprints than blind intuition.
His first work was a three-inch wooden model of the Astro Motel sign, based on photographs and his own memory. He wasn’t happy with how that one came out. But a little while later he made a miniature drive-in marquee, as a gift for a movie-loving friend. Before long Raley was regularly creating models of his favorite signs—a way to memorialize past ones he’s loved and honor those still standing. Raley starts a new project by consulting photographs—usually drawn from the vast image libraries that other signhunters have posted on photo-sharing sites—and using them to estimate the sign’s dimensions. Then he plugs the dimensions for some basic shapes into his 3D printer. Until this year, most of Raley’s signs were made of wood. Next he uses a font-finder program to replicate outdated fonts, which he traces onto vinyl or directly onto the sign-to-be. Then he paints or applies vinyl to the shapes, to match the original colors. Last comes the assembly process.
Some signs, like Circus Liquor, can be replicated mostly in one piece. But for signs like Deano’s Motel, Raley needs to attach multiple parts together—sometimes motors or lights too. For those he uses wood glue, epoxy, or magnets to keep everything in place. The result is a veritable Santa’s Village of vintage signs, no more than two feet tall, that live in his workshop at home (or are occasionally available for purchase at the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys). Whether still standing or long gone in real life, these signs are now preserved for posterity as miniature models. Raley and the other signhunters tend to focus on signs from the middle of the 20th century. But the history of commercial signage in the U.S. 18th century. Some of the earliest signs in America were those on taverns, like the ones that still hang outside pubs in Ireland and the U.K.
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