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Gazela Nameplate Restoration

Updated: Jan 30


As the Artist In Residence, I've been asked to repaint the ship's nameplates. These are hand-carved, painted wooden boards that introduce the ship to the world, and it is an honor to be given this task. I've discovered quite a bit of unexpected detail during the process of removing seemingly endless layers of paint.


I wasn't expecting to see all of this beautiful stippled carving around the star, or the painted scrollwork. After 24+ hours of cumulative sanding and scraping, I finally reached some bare wood in places and discovered this faint incision of a second star. My hypothesis is that the artisan began the first one and decided that making two was too much of a pain.


Originally, this Portuguese fishing boat was painted oxblood and white, colors reflected in those chosen by more than one previous sign painter.

At some point, the ship was repainted with a green stripe around the bulwarks, and the current captain claims that having red with a green and white ship looks too Christmas-y. Personally, I think that the sign is gorgeous in red and white, and I've been asked to gild portions of it as well... which means I need to learn how to apply gold leaf.


This is just one of 4 painted signs on the ship: three declaring GAZELA, and one that says PHILADELPHIA. I want to repaint the nameplates in a manner that brings out the beauty of their carving, reads well from a distance, and is stylistically cohesive with the overall appearance of the ship. I also need to make sure we don't have mis-matched signage for event season. You can rent our ship for weddings and parties, and we also host concerts and burlesque shows. For more information or to volunteer, visit philashipguild.org.

To see more paintings inspired by the Gazela, click here.

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