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History Donn Varner: Striping King of the Northwest

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, May 21, 2020.

  1. The '40 Ford Coupe pictured in the December 1956 ROD & Custom "NORTHWEST Striping King" article:

    Donn Varner's first '40 Coupe.JPG

    ... is Donn's very first Hot Rod build.

    Here's some vintage color photos of Donn's bitchin' Coupe:

    Donn Varner's first '40 Coupe (1).JPG
    Donn Varner's first '40 Coupe (2).JPG
    Donn Varner's first '40 Coupe (3).JPG
    Donn Varner's first '40 Coupe (4).jpg
    Donn Varner's first '40 Coupe (5).jpg
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  2. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,030

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    Hemi32, thanks for sharing! Good to see Donn getting some well deserved recognition. I had no idea Donn's talent went into some of those cars. The Sargenti 56 Chevy is one of my favorite mild customs. Hats off to Donn!
    chryslerfan55 and HEMI32 like this.
  3. No need to thank me ... thank @Jive-Bomber Jay for starting this TJJ Blog / H.A.M.B. thread ... it gave me the opportunity to share some of my “Donn Varner” photo archive.
  4. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,552


    Cool, A name that I have known most of my hotrod life. ________ by Donn Varner was often a comment you saw under a photo of a west coast feature car in a magazine years back.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  5. rudestude
    Joined: Mar 23, 2016
    Posts: 2,422


    In the late 70's into the 80's when I first hit the streets I lived in Oregon and worked and cruzed the blvds across the river in Washington, Longview.
    I often hung out at the shop, and got to know, of a pin striper that went by "Shelly" ...Shelly Dugan..he was best known for the naked stick people in various sexual positions throughout his pinstripes.
    He went further north and I lost track of him, just the other day a freind told me that he past sometime back.
    He was pretty crazy.

    Sent from my SM-T387V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  6. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,276


    Nice article on the Striping King of The Northwest. His early flames were an inspiration for us as little kids reading those old magazines. As a teen I was told by some custom car guys that it takes a ton of skill to do any kind of pinstriping on any surface. I was always amazed at the smooth curves and sharp points without any blurbs or zags in the long designs.

    So, I went home to my own desk and broke out the specialty brush I had purchased an a local art supply store. I remember the sales lady wanting to know what that funny looking paint brush was for in art. Chuckling all the way home, obviously she was not a hot rod/custom car enthusiast.

    Once I had the brush in hand, I practiced with water and normal art paper. Then ventured into some ink. The smaller designs were not bad for a novice, but as the designs grew longer and thinner to cover a bicycle frame or on the side of our wagon, it was hard to keep a smooth curving line without a jag or two. wiping it off and starting over never worked for me. It was not a smooth line without any overlap or joining links.

    upload_2020-5-23_3-56-38.png 1958 model and 1970 model, smaller and more precise in brush hair texture.

    Trying to put on some line designs on a real car fender was a project in frustration. From a far distance, it looked OK, but close up (where most people look at the designs) it looked very amateurish and awful. Luckily, it came off before it dried to hardness. On the bikes and lawnmower, they looked fine. Maybe because something is better that nothing on those plain looking household items. On bikes, they were small enough that the design was fairly smooth and different.
    I took this photo at one of the numerous Northern California’s Andy’s Picnics in Castro Valley. It drew me like a moth to fire. The Chevy sedan was unusual as it was sectioned, had one of the best paint on the body and the flames with striping was pretty outstanding. Come to find out, the Chevy sedan belonged to bay area painter/pinstriper, Rod Powell. We were extremely impressed at that point.


    To this day, I have nothing but envy for those guys that had “it.” Every custom car or hot rod that had pinstriping was like honey for a circulating ant. I was drawn to them every time, checking out the curves, and swoosh designs. When fine tip marking pens came out, I realized that if I drew flames on a piece of paper, I could definitely make pinstriping edges to highlight the colorful flames. But using a smaller pinstriping brush still had the jittery effects here and there in my art.
    One thing I did like and learned to use it in other fine motor things, is the wayward little finger stuck out for stability and balance. It was useful in just about anything that makes one hold with your thumb and first two fingers. The “wayward pinky” rides again, after all these years!!!

    Dennis Ricklefs has been in So Cal for many years. His reputation has followed him from the early days to his fame over the years. The hand is still steady and is part of the So Cal paint and pinstriping scene since those teenage/20 something years.
    upload_2020-5-23_4-1-10.png high school and 43 years later in 2005, granddaughter days
    upload_2020-5-23_4-1-40.png 20 Something Days upload_2020-5-23_4-2-18.png CUCKOO DAYS…

    upload_2020-5-23_4-9-50.png Inside out reverse flame painting on clear Lexan bodies... Not on the outside surface, but inside, in thin layers to minimize roll over cracking.

    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  7. chryslerfan55 likes this.

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