Back to the Drawing Board

Drawing has been part of my life as long as I can remember.  There were more than a few times in elementary school when my concentration was more on the doodling than on the class assignment.  Sometimes, even church bulletins came home with design ideas.

The drawings might have been the original funny faces that Stuart Smucker and I drew in 5th grade, or as below, images of President Johnson redone from the newspaper cartoons.  My favorite political artist was obviously Holland, as I temporarily modified my signature to imitate his.


Sometimes, I would work on special styles of lettering, in the days before a hundred font options came up automatically on the computer.  This eventually led to advertising on the Goshen College community bulletin board for graphic design work.

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This led to a few jobs for friends like the wedding announcements for Royce and Marcia Yoder, and Paul and Julie Keim.  The pinnacle of my graphic art days was the commencement invitation for the Goshen College Class of 1977.


Creating a business card and trying to make some money woodworking was the practical education which firmly qualified me to understand the term “starving artist.”


Some of the lettering got transferred to wood carved panels.  One piece of wood came from the old bowling alley on the island down by the college cabin.  It was a happening place when my parents were there in the 1940’s.  I also found an old door panel from an abandoned cabin in Colorado, but the piece shown below was just a random piece of walnut I found.


In September 1973, Dad asked me to work with the monument company on East Lincoln in Goshen, to develop the type style for my mother’s grave stone.  I provided a full sized alphabet, seen below, and the letters were cut from a vinyl material to make a pattern for sand blasting the script into the granite.


Here is Dad at Violet Cemetery by the Elkhart River at Waterford.


It was a heart-rending job and yet satisfying all at the same time, a way of saying goodbye to my mother when I was 18 years old.  The man who owned the business took me along to Fort Wayne to pick up the piece of granite and we stopped along Highway 33 at a cemetery by a church to see some examples of his work.  We had kindred spirits, and he asked me to consider coming there to work with him, as he wanted to retire and sell the business.  This idea did tug at me.

Designing an original boat is hard also, and satisfying, as it explores what could be from options never before done just this way.  This time though, the process is different from any thing I have done in the past, as it is a thorough collaboration with my friend, Jeff Margush.  He is a true and trained 3D guy, with lots of knowledge and experience on how it gets translated into a production item.  He builds and races a Porsche 914!

Almost two years ago, I told him about my dream and sketches of this boat, and he offered to “put it on the computer.”  This began the process of many hours, together and separately, laying out the shape in 2D, and then into 3D.  It would be hard to find a line on the whole boat that we did not both put our eye to, and come to agreement on.


Every new part of the boat requires this process.  The side panels below started with some sketching, then on to full size cardboard parts and finally the marine plywood.  Below we are evaluating the cardboard shape, and the next picture is the final marine plywood piece which will be covered with fabric.

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The dash board was one step more complicated.  Again, it started with drawing and then cutting cardboard shapes.  Below is the photo of the cardboard pattern I emailed to Jeff and his return email with modification suggestions in blue.


This led to another drawing and a cardboard pattern below:


Next, I made a scrap plywood part with white circles for gauges and the steering wheel, trying to get it perfectly arranged before making the final version in mahogany.


Every fall, the Creator also goes back to the drawing board to spruce up the midwestern woods.  This year was spectacular with long enduring red, yellow and orange colors, giving us again the great beauty of nature.  Who could resist going down this less-traveled road?


Lot 12 is one of my favorite places in the failed land development experiment near Onekama, Michigan.  It has a beautiful view, overlooking Portage Lake and Lake Michigan, and is a great spot to pause a moment and be thankful.


3 thoughts on “Back to the Drawing Board

  1. Loved all the drawings from the time your were young, your mom’s gravestone, and all the carvings and lettering in between! Proud of you!

  2. The more you share about yourself…your past…the things you used to do as a kid, teen, college student, I am seeing just how complex you really are, Mr. Lehman!!!

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