Jimmy’s Marina & Lounge Gets A Sign!

Here is the photo taken years ago in Clayton

Around 6 years ago while at the Clayton show I came across a vintage Chris Craft sign from the late twentys, at least thats my best guess. I recall the price being around $5,000 and sadly I did not have that in my pocket… checking account, or bank, or in anything, but I did have a cheap camera. So I grabbed a photo and thought, mmmm. I can make that sign. Now it isnt the original, but still would be fun to do.

If you look on the right there. Thats the sign as well. A little larger than the Clayton one, but the same idea.Was this one of the first signs for Chris Craft?

Well that was 5 years ago. So the other day, Jimmy said, hey got any ideas for some art work for the barn. BAM! I sure did and just needed someone to give me a reason. So I loaded the picture into the computer and made it so we could have a better reference.


8 Degrees outside. Barn 40! Time to move in doors


A trip to the paint store did the trick. I use simple house paint since it will be varnished.

Yesterday Jimmy had prepped a good sheet of plywood and the day started around 7 AM and ended at 8PM.. Today it gets some varnish!


Step one is to lay in the base colors. Thats one of Jimmys vintage rifle collection!


Starting to lay in the type and boat


The orange required 4 coats! Ugh. We also had to attach some support so it would not bow.


Laying in Jimmys Lounge. What was interesting is this must have been how it was done. The font had a stencle feel. So the art would have been done and then name added later.


I had to lay down on the ground to support my arm.


Close to finished. With added details. It will be cut down and framed in black and varnished to give it protection and an aged look

Sign 100

Dang! It worked!

Sign 101

Yes its a little shaky! Now I know why all those old sign painters drank so much!

sign 103

I wish i had taken photo details of the faces. So I had to make up a “feel” that might have been.

Sign 106

One really digging in on the original sign, the art was very simple and crude. I am perfect for that style!

If anyone has the original sign, I would love to get more details. It was a fun project for sure.

31 replies
  1. Texx
    Texx says:

    Looks great Matt! Nice work. That would look good on the back of a Woody Boater tee shirt, with a slight distressed look.

  2. JFunk
    JFunk says:

    Nice. Now, where are you going to hang it? How about over the head board in the master bedroom. Wives always love that kind of thing.

  3. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    You were born 100 years too late..Back in the 1920’s & ’30s you could have made a killing making signs for Chris Craft
    (bet Ford, Chevrolet & Plymouth too) dealers all over the country.

  4. William Hammond
    William Hammond says:

    Just Great! Perfect for Boat Cave! Okay, It’d be the first thing in there. I mean, it inspires me to want a Boat Cave! Nice, nice job!!

  5. Allen
    Allen says:

    An overhead projecter makes it easier to transfer the picture to the work to trace. Just a hint. Great job Matt.

    • matt
      matt says:

      I used a computer projecter to get the size relationship and sizing, but you end up blocking the projection. So it was a scetch on the bord thing. Also you have to measure everything to acomidate for the sign boards movement and warp. So a lot of mesureing and tape to line stuff up. The trick is to channel an old sign guy. paint fast and block stuff out. Do it layers as well. It worked best when going fast on the paint with no fear of not being perfect. The original is far from perfect. So i acheived that! HA,

  6. Mike W
    Mike W says:

    Like your mural just wonderful. I’ll going to assume that like my wife and son you never had formal training and just decide to do these things when you are “in the mood”. When they do their work I’m usually stunned and just say, “are you kidding me?” Wonderful work Matt!

  7. John A. Gambill JAG
    John A. Gambill JAG says:

    I think it’s great! I think I’ll try to make one subbing in my XK22 for the boat and tweaking the colors to go along with my boat.

  8. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Nice, no amazing talent. I used to try and paint transom names on all our boats back in the 70’s and 80’s and while they were “ok” you and I could tell they were hand painted by a guy in the driveway, not some “gold Leaf” professional!!!

  9. Don vogt
    Don vogt says:

    Matt, does that sign suggest there was a different burgee in the 20’s from what we see in the 30’s, or is that just artistic license by the original sign painter? Looks like the C C’s were relatively much larger than the rest of the script than in the later 30’s burgee??

    • matt
      matt says:

      I thought the same thing, and could not find a reference to a Double CC. These signs were reproduced in a way for sure though since I have seen two now. My guess is that there was some sort of screen process? Not sure. I would need to look at an original one to make sure. It apears that the one from Clayton was on some metal sheets. Maybe they printed some parts and hand did the location and small details? There certainly were not a bunch of dealers back then.

      • matt
        matt says:

        To add to this, regardless of the printing, it was hand drawn and the screens would have been hand cut. So any tiny detail not really used. Here is a close up of the CC. I am frustrated that that darn shadow was over the faces.. Ugh

        • don vogt
          don vogt says:

          Matt, i was inspired to look at photos in conrad. to me it looks like the burgee in the 1931 20 ft runabout is different from the 34′ custom commuter, 1930. Who knows?

          • matt
            matt says:

            Here is just a guess as a designer. Ya got the Chris craft logo on the boat, the top and huge in the center. I would have taken some artistic license with client permission. Also technically it might have created ink clots. As in too small to print well. I cant find it anyplace, and in the Cnrad book, both the $700 version and the $50 ink clot one, its Chris Craft all the way.

  10. Steve L
    Steve L says:

    Hey Matt, Great Job! I hope the person that bought the $5000 one in Clayton isn’t seeing this….Hee Hee.
    I like the attitude that you have. You see something cool, but out of reach, but still, you don’t give up. You find a way to get one, build one, and make it unique.
    Your buddy Jimmy is a lucky guy!

  11. Martin
    Martin says:

    I do not think that they still has that sign, but they do have a lot of cool stuff from the old marina. They had a big sale back in the early/mid nighties and a lot of things got sold off. Some of the relics surface from time to time. Still a super cool shop and marina on the lake and always worth a visit if you are in the area.

  12. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Famous contractor quote: “Whenever you find 4 painters, there’s always a 5th”. I was bidding on a sign on “evil bay” years back and it got up to over $650 and realized I was bidding against a friend Paul Mikkelson (or as I referred to as Mr Big when it comes to buying things for his museum before he liquidated at auction). I think the final evilbay bid was 876 or so. At his auction, it brought over $5000 years later as I recall. So here’s another image to paint – you can add your 0wn “patina”. And, as always – you do nice work. Would def look good on back of tee shirt.

  13. nehmer kid
    nehmer kid says:

    This sign hung at Macy’s which was the third Chris Craft dealer in northern Indiana. The sign sold to a gentleman from upstate New York when he purchased a late 20’s step hydroplane with a Hiso in it. Jeff Guya is one of the nicest guys in the hobby and is a pure gentleman. This sign hung indoors in the first warehouse for many many years. One side was very bad and one side was better, you took a picture of the side that was better. I looked all over at Mertaughs for the same sign, someone in Hessel has it. I missed it by a couple years. Jeff Rogers and I in the heat of the summer15 years ago visisted Macy’s and they were reroofing their shop, we went up on the roof with suit, tie’s and dress shoes and peeled off two 1930 Elto signs with nail wholes and tar on them … Paid $50.00 each and we were happy to boot. This marina was so cool in its day… Matt I will look for the picture I took back in the early 80s to see if the detail was any better.

  14. Matt
    Matt says:

    thanks so much, that would be awsome, I want to get as much info as possible on it. The faces are part of it and texture of the wood.

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