Sign & Boat Lettering

Painted lettering has been a constant
as my career has changed.

All through my career I have painted signs. I love lettering and was lucky to learn from some skilled mentors. My interests are in historic and calligraphic letter styles. I have always liked making my town look good with a few signs on Main Street. After ten years of painting signs, from billboards to office doors, I moved to the coast of Maine. Here I specialized in hand painted and gilded names on boats. In the slow days of winter I started working for Firefly Restorations decorating antique fire engines. Now I'm done with boats and slowing down on the fire engines. Here are some examples of hand painted lettering that may help some younger painters out there. Our landscape is choked with computer fonts. Brush lettering is a tradition that needs to be kept alive.

Peter Achorn painting a sign on location over a shop door. A house sign for the Schreiber family.Painted and oil gilded window sign.Detail of composition leaf that has slightly tarnished over 20 years.wall mural in a library

This is a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ. I re-gilded the Ormaloo on the console with 23 karat rose gold leaf. The organ was built in 1930 for the Metropolitan Theater in Boston. The organist would accompany silent movies or performers on the stage.

The organ has been restored and installed in a theater designed specifically for its use in Groton MA. The console can control the percussion instruments mounted on the wall, along with the two pianos on either side. A few of the pipes are visible to the far left and right. The rest of the 2380 pipes are in two separate rooms, with the sound coming through the six openings high on the back wall.

Scroll detail from pipe organ console. Wurlitzer console covered with composition material applied ornaments.Makers mark on Wurlitzer console. This is the correct color of the Rose Gold used on this project. Trophy oar for Yale University lettered by Peter Achorn. Rowing team with oars up. Antiqued new trophy oar .
Flying Fish on a day sailer.Tallulah quick casual with drop shade.Herrishoffs lined up on 700 Acre Island.Flying Fish on a day sailer.Flying Fish on a day sailer.Trade Wind restored at Rockport ME Marine with hand painted letters and decoration by Peter Achorn.Painted wood poles, rope and tassells on Trade Wind.Dragonfly brush calligraphy on a small boat.Lettering with a highlight in stead of a shadow on TerraDetail of Holly nameThe delux Flying Fish nameSugi didn't seem to need a shade or outline.Sea Breeze casual Roman letters.Dark Harbor Boat Yard on 700 Acre Island.

Boat yards in Maine are located in harbors of all sizes along the coast. They have been here since the towns were young and occupy some of the prime locations in each community. It has been a pleasure to work in such beautiful surroundings.

Brush calligraphy name My DriftThe boat Holly was lettered in the water from a skiff... in the rain.
Flying Fish on a day sailer.Fairweather name readable though quite smallKestrel with a totem story on the bow.Starbuck in a casual Roman with a prismatic star in white and gray. Detail of Halcyone transom showing kingfisher bird brush painted by Peter Achorn. boat Halcyone at the dock of Lyman-Morse Boat Building in Thomaston ME.Diamond showing a common way I treat transoms with a ladder.Boat cradle for Matthew.Boat cradle for Taylor. Dark Harbor 20's in the wood shop at Dark Harbor Boat Yard.

This panel is in the American Sign Museum. It is designed as if it were a monogram on the side of a vehicle ca. 1850. The colors and stripes are from that era. Five types of metal leaf are used. The panel is varnished and asphaltum glaze is used to add shading on the gold.

Sample panel with monogram ASM showing 19th century paint techniques.